12.18.2006

HH Com 153

I'm Hideko Naiyama and you're enjoying a Red News holo cast. I welcome you to another installation of Arthur Wallman's Otherworld Disclosed. Yes, you heard it. Arthur Wallman's Otherworld Disclosed.

When things got silent and boring in Federation and Republican space alike we sent one of our teams out to where destinies are made and empires changed. We were determined to follow in his footsteps, but there is a reason Arthur Wallman is the greatest newscaster in living memory. When our team arrived, but a year after his own arrival, he had already managed to leave Federation officials behind.

True to his motto -- news in the making -- a trail of mayhem and destruction followed him until he came full circle and returned to Verd. That is the local capital for the few of you who haven't been glued to your holo cubes the last weeks.

Disappointed they would only learn of his adventures in retrospect our news team managed to squeeze a promise of a full interview with the man himself, just about when Federation brigadier Goodard launched his unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation. As always Wallman was where news were made.

Our team joined Wallman on his southbound escape only to be caught up in a papal crusade. We have holo feeds of TADAT battling paladins, one sequence with Otherworld magic warriors and a full length interview with a seven hundred years old refuge from Earth itself.
All this a Red News exclusive!

Nope, this is a mess. Even for a first page.

I'm sure some of the commenters who can read it for more than 60 seconds will help you sort out why this doesn't work. Get over the pain of being eviscerated and listen to them.

14 comments:

Writerious said...

Well, if it is a first page (and I'm not sure of that!), it's a complete "As you know, Bob..."

There are also several grammatical errors. "News" should be singular, not plural.

Anonymous said...

The way you present the story is different and clever, but it doesn't work to tell us what the book is about. Start with the main character, cut out all the details, and tell us who he is, what he does, what he's up against, and why any of the above is unique or interesting.

RT

Heidi the Hick said...

what is it about? Exactly?

Inkwolf said...

Well, I think the newscast motif as a hook for a novel about a science fiction journalist is actually a cool idea.

The problem is, this sounds nothing like a newscast. Newscasters don't waste time delving into backstory and basic history. (They'll tag that at the end of the story, possibly, if it's important.) They don't generally tell you in he past tense what their news teams have been trying (and failing) to do, they tell you what's happening NOW, immediately. They start the story with the most vital information, to try to grip your attention before you change channels. And they break things down to the simplest, fastest, most easily-understandable version they can.

More importantly, if this guy is a famous reporter, he's reporting TO somebody already. Who ever heard of a news crew going into danger to interview the reporter reporting the danger? War correspondants going into battle to interview each other? It makes no sense.

And if you write a simple newscast hook unconvincingly, it doesn't bode well for your being able to sustain the believability of an entire future world.

But I really do like the general idea of a legendary futuristic reporter probing chaos of some sort. Maybe you could present it in a way that gives a better idea of the character and actual plot.

You just need to keep it REAL.

anon13 said...

Enter a commentator! (And train of thought remarks.)

Para 1: Huh? Why do I care what your name is? Oh, okay, you're a reporter. Ouch...long, nonsensical name...*eyes blur*...Ugh, it's repeated.

Para 2: "Federation" - What is this, Star Trek? Who's 'we'? "where destinies are made and empires changed" *eyes glaze over* Too unspecific! Whose footsteps? Oh, that guy. Try mentioning his name first and 'he/his' later - it's less confusing. "leave Federation officials behind." How? Physically or informationally?

Para 3: Verd's a local capital. What of? Where are you? It could be a planet's capital, a country's, the capital planet in a region of space... Why is this place even in the news, and why would I have heard about it? Not to mention, second-person writing really bothers me - I don't like being told what I do/think.

Para 4: Specifics! "a sovereign nation" = blah. "the peace-loving nation of Querzbekistan" = sympathy-invoking.

Para 5: South? So we are on a planet? Or 'down' on a star map? Woah - where'd the Pope come from? What's TADAT? It's completely incomprehensible, because we don't know your backstory. Paladins? Otherworld? Refugees from Earth? This paragraph needs a whole lot of backstory to make sense. The only thing I get is that it's a battle, and you make me blather through confusion to get that.

"All this a Red News exclusive!"

It looks like this is the hookish part of the page. (I'm assuming this is a page.) Exclusive reporting on a battle. So, have your MC somewhere, spot a TV screen in the first paragraph, and get us interested by showing his/her interest. If the reporter's talking to a character, not me, the second-person is okay. And don't start with talking about a famous newsman who isn't famous in your reader's mind, start with the "Hundreds Slain in Four-Sided Battle" headline. Then explain where we are, why we care, and what impact this has on your MC's life. Add plot as needed.

*rereads* Sheesh, that was long. *grin* Hope it helps!

Anonymous said...

"True to his motto -- news in the making -- a trail of mayhem and destruction followed him until he came full circle and returned to Verd. That is the local capital for the few of you who haven't been glued to your holo cubes the last weeks." Not nowhere near a hook.

Steven said...

I read for 60 seconds and had no idea what was going on.

HawkOwl said...

It's a first page? If it's a first page, I hate it. But I thought it was a clever device of writing the hook from the point of view of the news agency, and that the actual novel was the whole story of Arthur Wallman and the Federation. I was loving it. I'd want pages and hope Miss Snark is totally wrong.

BuffySquirrel said...

Yeah, "Federation space" is way too Star-Trekky, however unfair that may feel. They got there first, populated it, made it famous, and you can't use it, except recursively, without kicking off all those connotations.

I love when a story is told in a different form--diary, news story, email exchange, whatever--but for me it has to remain true to the form. Too often the writer finds the chosen form restrictive and stretches it. That feels like what's happening here. Better to treat the limitations of the form as a challenge. There's loads of potential in this idea, so trust the reader to play catch-up and see how it goes.

dancinghorse said...

Check the dictionary for the meaning of "installation." The word you're looking for is "installment."

Miss Snark's constant exhortation of "FOCUS!" is germane here. The paragraphs wander all over the place. It's not a bad idea to go back to English 101 and go with the format of topic sentence - sentence or two expanding on topic sentence - wrap-up sentence, not to lock yourself into a stylistic straitjacket but to focus your mind and organize your material.

Also, spend some time studying grammar, and check and double-check the meanings of words. You've got ideas and ambition--what's lacking are the basic skills of grammar and organization. Those are not hard to acquire, they just take time and patience. And lots of practice.

Anonymous said...

This is very confusing.

First thing's first - the idea of using a newscast is an interesting one but you are need to tighten it up a lot. Your speaker is meant to be a professional but it comes across as very amateur hour. More Blair Witch than News at Ten. Watch live reports from Iraq to get a feel for the pace and language used.

Who is your main character? Is the newscaster speaking? Is the legendary guy that you tell us almost nothing about?

You're trying to fit too much information into this hook - a lot of it backstory - and you're trying to be too clever. I would strip this back to essentials: decide who the main character is, decide what the story is and present it SIMPLY.

In fact, it would be an idea to remember the golden rule of reporting: who, what, where, when and why.

Sten Düring said...

I was trying to get smart. I'm pretty certain I outsmarted myself.

Too much energy into trying to make a 'hookish' setup and far too little 'hook'.
Was a good exercise though.

Oh well, back to the drawing board ;)

Thank you for the comments. I'll swallow the chagrin and agree.

angie said...

The first paragraph started off fine, but my mind (and interest) wandered at the second para. After leaning on the Arther Wallman thing, you didn't tell us who that was or why it's important until halfway through the second paragraph.

Starting off as a news cast is a good idea (got my attention), but what followed didn't stay in format. Result? Confused and not hooked enough to want to finish reading.

Maybe sticking with "Just the facts, ma'am" would be the way to go. Too much description of setting circumstances is a yawn. Nothing that can't be rescued, though. Focus, simplify, clarify & you have a better chance of snagging attention.

Jo Bourne said...

In about the middle of this hook, you have a set of sentences that run 27, 22, 20, 27, 21,and then 40 words long.

Maybe vary sentence length a bit more ...? Put the most exciting points in the shorter sentences.