12.18.2006

HH Com 144

Three men scurried from the warden`s office, like cockroaches fleeing from light. Only Warden Jackson remained, eying the piles of consent forms they'd left behind. He smacked his hands together and licked his thin white lips. He mulled over what color jet he would buy, now that he was rich.

He called his guards up. "Twenty bucks a pop boys, that's my deal. However you get 'em is on you. All I care about is a legible name on the dotted line." Shit, he thought, rich as I am right now, I could afford to give 'em a hundred a pop, But I got better things to do with this petty cash.

Five minutes later, a red-headed guard from Mobile, Alabama huffed his way into the holding cell of Jason Mahar. "Get up!" he growled. "Read this shit and sign it!" He pushed the consent form toward the bed where Jason sat.

Jason rose from the bed. He accepted the form, scanned it, and dropped it to the bedside: "No sir."

The guard swung back his cattle prod and slammed it against Jason's face, knocking some teeth out and tearing a gash across his jaw: "God dammit boy, sign that mothafucka so I can get on to the rest of ya'll."

Jason resisted the urge to charge at this farm-boy-turned-city-overseer. "Not today I won't. Not me." The words slurred together as blood streamed down his chin. He sopped it up with his shirt sleeve, staining a black-printed ID number he had never bothered to look at.


ok, well, as you now know this isn't a hook. It's a first page. Do I want to read more? No. Corrupt law enforcement, brutal guards, senseless violence...well, normally of course that's a real plus, but it's almost Christmas. Peace on earth yanno.

The thing here is that it's senseless. You need to show the guards are afraid of the warden; afraid enough to beat the crap out of someone OR that they just like doing it. Better word choices can convey character without a lot of description.

And you've got some vocabulary problems. Holding cells are in jails and police stations. Prisons generally don't hold people temporarily and a warden is only at a prison, not a jail or a police statation. It's amazing what a life of crime (fiction) can teach you!

7 comments:

HawkOwl said...

Besides what Miss Snark already said, I don't think that's how someone would respond to being whacked across the face with a cattle prod. His urge would be to sit down, not charge. Also, why in the world would you beat someone with a cattle prod? You use them for prodding. That's why they're cool. If you're just giving out beatings you might as well use a stick and save yourself the cost of a cattle prod.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Miss Snark and Hawkowl thus far. Now, the worst thing that I as a reader would dread to discover is that the writer has not done their homework or research.

Some of your readers may have an education in History and Human Behavior. So, the impression of the lack of knowledge on the part of the writer would turn me off. I would not purchase another book from author who doesn't know what their writing about.

But than again I only read a bit of your story and I could be wrong.

shannon said...

Where's the plot? What is this story about? I'm not at all grabbed by this, in fact, it put me off.

And I agree about the cattle prodding thing. You do know they're electric don't you? The least it would do is knock your teeth out! (unless it's not turned on??)

dancinghorse said...

A cattle prod to the face would probably kill you. Those things pack a punch, and that much voltage that close to the brain is not good news.

The lack of research is showing here. The characterization is overstated, as well. Tone it down, ease off on the loaded words, and try to see each character as an individual. Hannibal Lecter is a great character because he's fully realized--he's not just there to gross you out. He's complex; there are a lot of sides to him. Sometimes you almost find yourself agreeing with his view of the world.

Try to find ways to describe these people and their motivations that don't resort to stereotypes and loaded words. The more depth you give them, the stronger your story will be.

Crys said...

this may have been a first page and not a hook, and perhaps it is a bit rough in places, but i think there is definitely potential here. i actually liked it quite a lot---thought the dialogue in particular showed promise. it was believable.

HawkOwl said...

Dancinghorse: you only get the voltage if you use the cattle prod according to its intended use. When whacking, it's just an expensive stick. That's why they call it a prod, I think, to remind farm hands that a prodding motion is expected. Otherwise they'd call it a cattle-whack. And give a dog a bone.

tomdg said...

I misread the last line at first and thought the ID number was tatooed on his arm. Put that together with the question of who wants these consent forms and why, and the character of Jason who simply says no, and you've potentially got an interesting near-future post-USA-Patriot-Act totalitarian-state story. V for Vendetta, 1984, maybe, but since these are the times we live in it's still an interesting and important premise.

But looking at what the hook actually says, I don't think this is that story. Shame.