HH Com 188

Someone is killing the guildmasters of Erynal.

Its monarchy long dead, Erynal has been ruled for generations by a Guide selected from among the leaders of its many powerful guilds. Erynal is blessed with wealth, peace and tranquility… perhaps a bit too much tranquility for some. With the previous Guide dead, someone
seems determined to make sure that no one replaces him for long.

In SURVIVAL TACTICS, a novel for those who prefer their fantasy with intrigue rather than elves and unicorns, Sathren watches the repeated tragedies with horror. But shopkeepers do not get tangled up in murder plots, and what can one unimportant person do? That is what
she thinks until her own guildmaster, a man who has been a mentor and friend to her, seems to be the assassin's next target. Sathren steps in as acting guildmaster to take her mentor's place at the Choosing ceremony, and no one is more astonished than she when she is selected

Now Sathren must rule an unstable country, try to unmask a ring of killers, and stay alive long enough to do it. She has to quickly learn who she can trust, who she should throw a shoe at, and when it is safe to come out from under the bed. And if she can manage all that, Sathren has one more challenge to face.

Guides are chosen for life.

Ok, everyone knows I don't do science fiction but I'd read this. It's a blathery (but not total blather) hook but if you had good pages I'd overlook that. I like the sense of humor, I like the energy.

And for all of you grammarians and knicker-twisters, let's just have a brief reminder: this isn't a spelling and grammar contest. This is about hooks. I'm reading these the way I read my slush pile. I'm not spell checking and grammar checking you and if there are three mistakes you're out. I'm look for fresh ideas, good writing and ENERGY.

The best way to convey those things is with a focused and well written hook.
There are exceptions.
This is one.


Anonymous said...

This did sound like a good idea. I'd probably pick it up at a bookstore :)

However, I'd be wary of saying "In SURVIVAL TACTICS, a novel for those who prefer their fantasy with intrigue rather than elves and unicorns" to SF/F agents/publishers.

There isn't that much in the way of 'elves and unicorns' published any more, and it may make you sound as if you think your work is more worthy than everything else.

It might not, of course. I'm just not sure it's worth the risk :)

Anonymous said...

*Author waves*

I want to thank Miss Snark so much for doing this. I have learned a great deal from reading her comments. I know that when I send Hook Ver 1.01 to agents, it will be tighter and better than the one I entered.

And as to the first comment, that part was meant to be humorous rather than insulting. But I am glad you pointed it out, because if you read it as potentially "better than the rabble", then an agent might as well.

*grabs red pencil*

Michele said...

I love the idea of "fantasy with intrigue".... I'd read this.

Anonymous said...

This is the first anonymous again, author.

I think that line does work well at telling readers - quickly - what type of book you've got, and so I wouldn't worry about it unless some others point out negative connotations as well :)

Virginia Miss said...

Wow, congrats on hooking Miss Snark with FANTASY – and a weakly constructed hook. Great writing.

I liked “a novel for those who prefer their fantasy with intrigue rather than elves and unicorns.”

But my favorite part is “She has to quickly learn who she can trust, who she should throw a shoe at, and when it is safe to come out from under the bed.”

And the way you’ve indicated that she is in mortal danger is unusual and effective.

Good luck with publication.

Inkwolf said...

This sounds like a fun book. :D Sounds a bit like a reversal of Terry Pratchett's situation with Lord Vetinari--if you haven't read the Discworld series you should, just to be sure of avoiding overlap.

katiesandwich said...

Hmm. All this debate over the line "for those who prefer their fantasy with intrigue rather than elves and unicorns." Well, I'm going to add to it! I'm in the crowd that thinks the hook works better without it. The whole show don't tell thing... We can see from what your hook says that the story is one of intrigue, and I would never assume that there were elves or unicorns in your book unless you mentioned it, but that's just me.

As far as the hook went, well, I confess that my eyes glazed over the first time I read it, but since it hooked Miss Snark, I started copying it into my notebook like I have been with the other winning hooks. And as I wrote it out, it forced me to read more slowly and pay attention to what was there. I think this could be a neat story, but I agree that the hook needs work. (Damn hooks! They're so hard to write!)

Anonymous said...

Nice job! I like fantasy, with or without elves, and I like intrique. I would pick up the book. I'm looking forward to reading the first pages.

Good luck!

Jodi Meadows said...

I'll add my voice to the not for me crowd with this line: "a novel for those who prefer their fantasy with intrigue rather than elves and unicorns."

I like intrigue, but I like elves and unicorns too, and I wouldn't pick one over the other just because of elves...or ingrigue. It's the *story* that matters. Either one can be great, and either one can be deathly boring. (And hey, you can have both if you want!)

(The line did sound a little condicending to me at first, too, but I think I know who the author is and I know they wouldn't mean it that way. :)

mozartgirl said...

Wow! I never had a clue that so many people write fantasy (I've never read any myself). Is this a huge market, or are there just tons more writers than readers?

Rei said...

Plot sounds a bit worn to me. Rags to riches/powerless to powerful is the oldest fantasy cliche in the book, and "MC is an inept leader until he/she learns to grow" is heading that way.

But, hey, if Miss Snark likes it :) I do agree that "She has to quickly learn who she can trust, who she should throw a shoe at, and when it is safe to come out from under the bed" is a good line, which is promising for your writing quality.

Anonymous said...

Grammar might matter when you send this out finally--should be "whom" (not "who") in the shoe-throwing bit.

skybluepinkrose said...

This hooked me, too. It's the energy and the specifics, like who to throw a shoe at, when to come out from under the bed.

But all I could think of when I read the beginning was "urinal." This kingdom needs a new name.

Linda said...

Great. It makes me what to read it, and I can't buy the book! Sounds like a great story.

McKoala said...

Liked it, but the title reminded me of a war memoir.

Anonymous said...

I agree -- the kingdom needs a new name. I thought 'urinal' also. :-)

chimeralife said...

Cute, interesting story. But even my husband who is not much of a reader but was glancing over my shoulder, said, "Urinal?"

So you may want to change the spelling a bit-UNLESS it's a purposeful hint that the country is in the toilet.

Congrats, looking forward to reading it.

Xiqay said...

I didn't like the title. I hate unpronounceable names, or ones that read better backwards, like Erynal, and I got mixed up between Guide and Guild on my first quick read and didn't realize the relationship of guildmaster to Guide until the end. All problematic for me.

The story sounds okay though, to me. She's going to save her boss (not a sainted sibling), and suddenly finds herself in deeper than she expected.

I liked the "fantasy with intrigue rather than elves and unicorns" and the other light humorous touches (but I can see someone else not taking that first for humor).

Congrats on getting a pages request from Miss Snark.

Rei said...


Fantasy is a particularly high-competition genre. If you check NaNoWriMo, it gets the most parcipitants each year. In 2006, they had 10860 fantasy entries. The next were "Other" at 7780, lit fic at 7332, then SF at 4556. Romance had only 2262.

Compare to fiction sales numbers: Romance, ~40%. Mysteries/thrillers, ~25%. SF/F, ~8%. Of that, a bit more is fantasy than SF.

Both fantasy and SF are very competitive, but fantasy moreso. Romance with its 40% market share is probably one of the least competitive markets. If you can get published at all writing fantasy or SF, you've done something pretty impressive.

Of course, I have to wonder how much of the SF/F is chaff so bad that the authors don't even bother to submit it.

DancingFool said...

I'd be interested in reading more if I saw this as a blurb. I'd be a bit wary though, there is a couple of spots that seem a bit rough.

If you ever do get this published, email Miss Snark and ask her to let us know, OK? Actually, it would be interesting to know of any entries that eventually make it though the gauntlet.

Anonymous said...

*Author laughs hysterically*

The way I have always pronounced Erynal in my head does not rhyme with urinal. But obviously a change of spelling is in order. At least I learned this before sending it to an agent!

And Jodi, where would you know me from? Your name doesn't ring a bell, but obviously people use different names on different boards.

Anonymous said...

No elves?? What about this one??

Jodi Meadows said...

Author, I don't know you! (I don't think.) I found out like five minutes ago that I was *wrong*!


Alice said...

As a SFF reader, I'm not at all keen on the "no elves & unicorns" line - it sounds like the sort of cliche that mainstream writer/readers think that SFF is all about. I like the idea of intrigue, though.

Impy said...

You know, I've agreed with most of Miss Snark's comments so far (I'm reading backwards from number four hundred something), but I'm afraid I just didn't buy it on this one.

I'm a huge science fiction and fantasy fan, and I love fantasy with intrigue, but I just don't see anything that unusual here. Sathren sounds like a bit of a Mary Sue to me, and I don't understand why she or her world or her random guild are supposed to be interesting. I liked the bit of humor, though.

Though I admit, it could just be that the word Erynal just doesn't sound right in my head, either.