12.18.2006

HH Com 156

When lightning strikes twenty-three year-old Barry Jenson as he hikes Albuquerque's west mesa, it's more than an accident of nature. It's a calling. Earth's ability to sustain life depends on a complex balance of opposing forces, but the equilibrium has been disturbed. Now it's up to Barry, an easy-going gay man, to restore it, but first he has much to accept and sacrifice. He has even more to learn, including his role in Earth's survival.

STRUCK is set in Albuquerque, a nearby pueblo, and among ancient Indian ruins in northwestern New Mexico. The ruins are the studied remains of the Anasazi, the ancient ones, who worked for centuries to build an advanced civilization then mysteriously abandoned it 700 years ago. My manuscript embraces an intriguing theory that the Anasazi accessed power man wasn't meant to possess. Their meddling almost destroyed life on Earth, so they dismantled their sacred kivas and abandoned their great society to prevent man from repeating their mistake.

Of course, in STRUCK, man repeats the mistake.

Queer Eye Meets Apocolypto.

Focus on the character. Describe his conflict specifically. "The equilibrium has been disturbed" is junk science AND bad writing. There is no equilibrium but there are dynamic forces (not opposing forces) in balance over the long haul.

And what the HELL does the fact that he's gay have to do with anything? Are you trying to tell me the Anasazi were the original Village People?

Start again.

19 comments:

Writerious said...

Junk science, indeed -- whenever my biology students write about the "balance" of nature, I always respond, "What does that mean?" No one has yet had a satisfactory answer.


Furthermore, the Anasazi didn't just "vanish" as the made-for-TV specials would have us believe. The reasons for their abandonment of their pueblos is complex, but has several good, evidence-based explanations.

Virginia Miss said...

I like the first two sentences of your hook. We need more specifics about what barry is supposed to do. Sounds interesting. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

You see this just pissed me off. Why does the man have to be gay? Is their sex in this story?

Just crazy man, just crazy.

HawkOwl said...

"Village People." Tee-hee.

I love alternate theories of historical events, but this is too vague for me. Good luck with it.

Rei said...

Anasazi. You mean the Ancestral Puebloans. Anasazi is the Navajo word for "enemy ancestors". Needless to say, the Puebloans aren't fond of their ancestors being referred to by that Navajo term.

Also, there's no great mystery why they left. Through their actions (deforestation, overfarming) and through climate shifts, their environment turned to hell in a handbasket. Their crops failed, and as usual, they migrated. Not before warfare broke out, though. The only reason that they were able to build so much in this one place was that the climate was so nice for so long.

Jodi Meadows said...

I agree about the first two sentences.

The rest, I think, needs sharp details and focus.

I'm looking for more stakes, too. When *isn't* the Earth in peril? :D

Good luck with this!

Anonymous said...

Queer Eye Meets Apocolypto.

PRICELESS!

type, monkey, type said...

Why does the man have to be straight?

If he was another minority, would there be a reaction?

If more gay characters were in books but were just characters, maybe eventually it wouldn't be such a big deal. We can have female main characters in traditionally male roles now without the book being about gender politics, after all.

I don't know, I think having a gay main character for no reason is refreshing.

Anonymous said...

If more gay characters were in books but were just characters, maybe eventually it wouldn't be such a big deal.

Mentioning it in the hook makes it a big deal.

Jodi Meadows said...

Type, monkey, type,

I don't think it's the fact that he's gay, I think it's the random "oh, and he's gay" in the hook. It doesn't really flow, or have a plotty reason to be in there. The MC being gay isn't going to make a difference for a lot of people--whether they pick up the book or not. If the rest looks good, chances are it will get read.

That said, you've got me thinking about minorities and when mentioning if your MC is one in your hook is appropriate or not. Because, I mean, some come with a culture, and that will tell you a lot about a character.

Frex, saying the character is Jewish might show a) his values, b) what holidays he likes to take off work, c) maybe a very basic description of his looks, and d) ...if you say he used to be a practicing Jew, but isn't anymore, that will tell you a bit, too.

But I think...any description you give your character in a hook ought to do more than one or two things.

Ryan Field said...

type, monkey, type said...
"I don't know, I think having a gay main character for no reason is refreshing."

Great point. But having the gay main character shouldn't be discussed in the hook. If the character just happens to be gay, for no reason, then there's really no need to mention it in a hook. Just make him gay...don't make a big thing about it. Wouldn't that be a novelty?

This way the writer won't get idiot comments like "village people." Tee-hee.

I think it sounds interesting, and I'm not even a fan of fantasy type things like this, but I'd read it. Good luck, writer.

CoyoteMom said...

I thought the same thing when I first read about Barry being gay, however I like the story idea. Alternate history can be fun, but challenging. Also, to the anonymous who is "pissed" off....was it a typo or freudian slip that made you ask "Is their sex in this story?" ???

annie said...

Re the gay MC: I think the point wasn't, don't have one; the point was, don't mention it in the query if it doesn't serve a purpose there.

Crys said...

just wondering why you needed to mention that Barry is gay? don't see how it pertains to the story.

Anonymous said...

I agree with type monkey. A character doesn't need to be gay for reasons of the plot -- it can be refreshing. However, I think Miss Snark raises a good point -- if the character's oritentation (or race, or fill-in-the-blank) isn't of direct support of the plot, need it be mentioned in the query letter? Is it something agents want to know up front, in the synopsis, or in pages?

Just Me said...

It's not whether the main character is gay as such; it's the old dictum about "When you introduce a gun in the first act, you must fire it by act three..." What does his sexual orientation have to do with anything in this hook? Beyond that, it's just backstory.

Anonymous said...

The author says: Thanks everyone for commenting. Great learning experience. I realized I need to focus this hook on Barry and his specific struggles many, many entries before Miss Snark made it to mine. I was surprised at the attention describing Barry as a gay man attracted. Interesting discussion, and I'm now inclined to remove mention of his orientation. My rationale was that having an easy-going gay man saving the earth instead of an action hero type might make it stand out a little. Secondary to that, I'm targeting some agents that like glbt and thrillers, so I thought a gay main character might appeal.

But regarding having a gay main character, no, his orientation isn't the point of the novel. He just walks around being gay, like I do. I think part of me worried if I didn't mention Barry was gay, it might end up being an unwelcome surprise to an interested agent, but I really shouldn't worry about that. And I know Barry's got bigger worries. Now I just need to make them stand out in my hook.

Thanks again for the valuable input.

Keith

Annie said...

Author: I think you got so many comments re the gay MC due to the timing of the comments moderation. When I posted mine, the last comment was "type, monkey, type" asking why he has to be straight. I was answering that, and I think several other people were too, but were all in the moderation queue at once. I probably wouldn't have commented had I seen the ones before mine.

Ryan Field said...

"But regarding having a gay main character, no, his orientation isn't the point of the novel. He just walks around being gay, like I do. I think part of me worried if I didn't mention Barry was gay, it might end up being an unwelcome surprise to an interested agent, but I really shouldn't worry about that. And I know Barry's got bigger worries. Now I just need to make them stand out in my hook."

I really like your comment as much as your hook. And truly wish you the best with this. It won't be easy, going up against comments that include "Queer Eye", and "Village People"(she wouldn't have said "Uncle Tom" or "Rasmus Washington" if you're character had been afro-American), but just ignore them. There are still so many things about gay Americans the mainstream (agents included) just doesn't get. You can't blame them; it's really our job to change the mind set so we aren't all represented by things like "Queer Eye" and "Village People". Though many of us can now buy and sell them, we have to work on changing the way they think.