HH Com 20

AYARIS: A steampunk nation in its renaissance, under the thumb of the oppressive god Tan-Milar. (that's what...the mission statement of Ayaris?)

After the turmoil of her university days, all Yuri Rynn wants is a simple life for herself and her son Vandt in Ayaris's capital city. But when an earthquake exposes a spatial anomaly that consumes everything that enters it, Vandt's father Ien, the university chancellor, draws her into the investigation of the anomaly.

Yuri uses her mathematical talents to decipher the anomaly's mysteries and unleash its hidden potential. Unfortunately, that potential is the power of a god, which is a curse when you don't know what you're doing. Soon, Yuri finds her life in tatters -- Vandt imprisoned, Ien dead, those who trusted her slain, and the city of her birth in ruins. Fearful of divine retribution and questioning the nature of her own reality, she uses the anomaly to set out to destroy the only god she's ever known -- in his own world.

"Soulscape" takes readers on an journey through nested realities. From the slums of Milare to the orbital colony of Megiddo and the fragmented mind of a universe-spanning consciousness, Soulscape challenges concepts of reality, the meaning of faith, and the nature of thought. Struggling against secret police, fundamentalist separatists, and embodied pieces of her own mind, Yuri must find a way to cope with living inside a twisted world created by her actions.
Only through the love of her homeland and her son will she stand a chance.

You can lose the entire third paragraph of course.
You don't give us a compelling reason for any of this to happen (draws her into the investigation of the anomaly).

A hook is compelling. This is just a recitation with no motivation.


Rei said...

Ouch. Thanks, Miss Snark. :) I'll keep at it.

goblin said...


It's a slaughter. We're all gonna die.

(I quite like this updated version, mind you.)

Anonymous said...

lol- its utter madness!!!

she does everything you say you hate snark- begining with the unpronouncable name. (or is that lit agent X who complains about that??)

spatial anomaly ?? isn't that a portal of some sort?? -

please tell me your kidding about it being compelling miss snark- i dont want to lose respect for you!!


Anonymous said...

I was scared to send my hook in but now I wish I would have because I actually wrote it like she described. Boy, I missed out again. Well, maybe next time:)

randomsome1 said...


That's it, I've been in fandom for too long.

Dear author: I highly recommend you check for potential definitions of your character's name. Otherwise I might end up picking up your book looking for the hawt girlpr0n.

Rei said...

Hmm? What is "hawt girlpr0n" ("hot girl porn?"), and what does the name "Yuri" have to do with it? I checked into the name before I chose it; it's a male Russian name, but a female Japanese name (where it means "lily" -- there are a few "lily" allusions in the story). Are you telling me that I can't use a common Japanese girl's name because some porn star has that name?

Anonymous: What name do you consider unpronouncable? I tried to keep my names as pronouncable as possible, and think I did much better than most SF/F. But if not, I need to know what names were challenging.

SF/F readers will know the word "anomaly", so I'm not concerned with that.

I'm not following your last paragraph. Miss Snark said she didn't find a compelling reason for things to happen (which means that I condensed too much). Could you elaborate on what your problems with the hook were? I need to know if I am to make improvements. :)

HawkOwl said...

Too much. Also, it's one thing to describe your work as steampunk, but describing the place as steampunk feels like that disconnected feeling you get the first time you get high on venlafaxin.

Rei said...

Thanks, Hawkowl.

I'm not sure what to do at this point. Paras 1-3 were pretty much written by EvilEditor. They were refined over on Elektra's crapometer. But apparently they're "recitation with no motivation", and the commenters here seem to agree.

Help! Can anyone suggest a way to go forward?

MWT said...

"But when an earthquake exposes a spatial anomaly that consumes everything that enters it, Vandt's father Ien, the university chancellor, draws her into the investigation of the anomaly."

This is the part where I got lost. Why would she be drawn into the investigation of the anomaly?

I'm guessing, based on the beginning of the second paragraph, that she's being coerced into helping because she has mathematical abilities that no one else has. It also suggests that Yuri's university days were spent as a professor rather than a student as I'd originally thought. It might be good to mention what specifically Yuri's role was in the first paragraph instead of the second one, if that's the case, so that the compelling reason can flow logically from it.

Meanwhile, who the heck is Hawkowl and why is she going around dissing everyone? :p

Anonymous said...

i mean, the first sentence alone?? wtf does it mean??

first sentences are the most important of the book- they should be EASY to understand - easy to digest.

with yours i hit wall after wall of confusion.

AYARIS ?- bad name - i have to stop and think about it.
Steampunk nation - WTF ??? what IS that?
oppressive GOD ??? a GOD ??? a REAL GOD?? maybe someone who THINKs he god-
TAN Milar?? -

remember smoooothhhhh first lines-

these are HOOKS- and we are the fish-


Elektra said...

Anonymous, even I've heard of steampunk, and I avoid SFF as if my very life depended on it. I'm guessing agents who rep the genre know very well what it is.

The most confusing thing to me here is the abundance of names.

Rei said...

Thanks, anonymous. That's a relief, then, because your issues were ones that SF/F readers wouldn't make.

* I assume you'd agree that Ayaris is more pronouncable than (lets pick Tolkien as a baseline) "Belegaer", "Almaren", "Beleriand", "Númenor", "Lake Cuiviénen", "Arnor", etc. Or we could use Harry Potter as a base, and get places like "Azkaban", "Gringotts", etc. Lets jump to sci-fi -- say, Dune: "Arrakis", "Caladan", "Geidi Prime", "Kaitain", etc.

If you do find "Ayaris" harder than these baselines, please let me know which phonemes were problematic for you.

* Steampunk is a widely known (and popular) SF/F subgenre -- sort of a hybrid between science fiction and fantasy. Here's the wikipedia page in case you're curious:


* Gods are a mainstay of fantasy, and beings that are effectively gods or pretend to be gods are not too rare in SF.


Thanks a lot :) I'll have to figure out how to sum up that transition without dragging out the hook. Or I could start after she begins working for him. It's problematic, because it involves a process of pulling strings behind the scenes (including the loss of Yuri's job), pulling emotional strings (which I don't have space to go into here -- relating to Yuri and Ien's relationship, and Yuri's time in the university), and other factors.

I'm guessing that starting after the anomaly has been found and Yuri is already on the team might be best. But wouldn't that take out the setting and character building before that?

Choices, choices...

Again, thanks!

Laurel Amberdine said...

FWIW, I read lots of SF, and this sounds like something I'd enjoy.

The opening definition is a little weird, and the third paragraph doesn't add anything intriguing, though.

randomsome1 said...

Rei: Yuri is the term for femslash, girl-on-girl relationships. I'm telling you that where it may be a Russian guy's name or another word in Japanese, it also carries a possible definition that you apparently didn't run into. It's not as obvious as naming your main character Bukkake, but it's getting there.

Virginia Miss said...

rei, This looks interesting, but the hook needs work. Perhaps start the second paragaph with "When an earthquake..., Yuri Rynn.." then give her motivation for wanting to decipher the mysteries. For example, is she worried that the anomaly will "consume" a loved one?

Why would she want to "unleash the hidden potential" of an anomaly that is consuming everything?

I don't like the sentence "that potential is the power of a god, which is a curse when you don't know what you're doing." It confused me.

Unless it's critical, I suggest omitting mentions of "nature of reality" and "concepts of reality." I don't know whether they hook anyone. Mentioning "nested realities" once is enough.

Rei said...

Thanks, Virginia and Laurel. More good advice that I'll definitely make use of.

Benja Fallenstein said...

rei, I can understand that you're frustrated :-)

On this one I don't really understand Miss Snark's comment (the one about motivation). I think it would work better if you mentioned in passing that she was a researcher in [field], or whatever she was, but I assumed it would be something like that and didn't have a problem there.

The steampunk setting and the god sound interesting, but I do have a problem with this, though, and it's that I'm not caring about the main character and what's happening to her. :-( I don't feel that I know her at all, and the details you give here and in the versions over at Evil Editor's (I googled) don't really help. This may well just be me, though, since nobody else here seems to have had this problem.

I don't quite agree that paras 1-3 were written by EE: He tweaked your version of it, but I think in the places where he didn't just cut whole paragraphs his version isn't much different from yours.

A way to go forward? Frankly, reading Miss Snark's winners, learning from them, and rewriting your hook from scratch, I think. :-) Because as one commenter said in the comments thread of your other entry, EE can only work with what you give him -- so if he can't bring your query into a shape that Miss Snark likes (or that makes a lot of commenters here protest because she dislikes it), it seems not unlikely to be a structural problem with your query, something that can't be fixed by tweaking your current version.

All the best, and good luck!
- Benja

Rei said...

Thanks, Benja. :)

I've already got a new attempt over at Elektra's CoM. Lets see how that goes. If at first you don't succeed...

Again, thanks!