12.21.2006

HH Com 247 (243)

Tess Shearer, a counterculture journalist, accidentally jogs into the arms of President Harrison Cantrell Henry. After their steamy unpublicized love affair ends, Tess returns home to Arizona and gives birth to Mikka, a precocious child with the strange ability to transcend time and space.

Nearly three years later, President Henry challenges the status quo with his unusual agenda of putting people before profit and demanding full disclosure of the UFO enigma. He disappears in a staged assassination as Tess and Mikka are pursued by agents of The Company, a depraved shadow government controlled by extraterrestrial interests determined to usurp Earth's most powerful governments and dwindling resources using any available tool.

Tess stays one step ahead of trouble in a mad dash through Arizona with the help of New Age
ministers, a Native seer, and her gay brother, the unwitting dupe of a Company agent. Finally
captured by Company agents on a remote ranch, Tess and Mikka ironically survive a helicopter
crash near their home in the Yavapai County, near where Henry has escaped an underground military installation. When the lovers connect again, they must reconsider their personal desires and focus instead on Mikka's survival.

Recently I received a positive unsolicited critique from a 2006 XYZ unpublished novel competition judge. (this isn't a publishing credit; leave it out)


This doesn't work as a hook because the villain is preposterously unbelievable. Villains work best when they are specific, with specific threats. Frankly I think aliens could do a better job governing Italy just for starters. You never mention why Tess and Mikka are targets. Should we assume it's cause they think Mikka is dangerous? She's a toddler for dog's sake.

If Mikka is the focus, start with her. The rest is all set up or backstory anyway. And you can only use one cliche per page. You have one in nearly every sentence.

9 comments:

Daniel Barlow said...

Tess and Mikka ironically survive a helicopter crash

Like a free ride when you've already paid

doncha think?

Kathleen said...

Please -- enough with using sexuality as a shortcut for description. Is it important that her brother is gay? If not, leave it out. I can see why you would have the "New Age ministers," since the new age part separates them from other ministers, but the mention of the gay brother comes off as too "token minority character" for me. [/rant]

I also have a little trouble believing that her love affiar with the president goes *entirely* unpublicized. Aren't there people on the guy 24/7?

Anonymous said...

I would think that the overriding plot would be that aliens are trying to take over the Earth and a child is trying to thwart that. Making something that outrgeous a sub plot doesn't work for me. The relationship and all the other stuff would be overshadowed. If that is in fact the plot, then you didn't reveal that with this hook.

Anonymous said...

Ok, Snarklings, gimme some help here. I blew the hook, and it's hard to tell without some cliches - after all, Whitley Strieber just published my story in August in another form - The Grays.

I know this is still dull, but is it more precise and hookish? -

When strange black cars begin lurking near her central Arizona highlands home, counterculture journalist Tess Shearer knows someone more sinister than curious paparazzi are inside. She only wants an ordinary life for her toddler, but Mikka is not only the lovechild of President Harrison Cantrell Henry. Genetically manipulated by aliens in a hazy abduction incident, Mikka's paternity and her precocious talents—advanced artistic skills and the strange ability to transcend time and space—are secrets Tess knows she must keep.

But her brother's lover Jay, a photographer with anger management problems, is undercover, an agent of The Company. The depraved U.S.shadow government is controlled by extraterrestrial interests determined to harvest and manipulate human genes and usurp earth's dwindling resources using any available tool, even innocent children. Will it take the wisdom of a child to save Earth from its spiral toward environmental disaster and the alien agenda?

When President Henry challenges the Company's status quo with his unusual agenda,putting people before profit by stopping the manufacture of gasoline engines and plans to orchestrate full disclosure of the UFO enigma, he disappears in a staged assassination near the anniversary of Kennedy's death.

Meanwhile, Tess is battered by Company attempts to end Mikka's life. Assisted by friends and relatives, she flees her home in a mad Christmas time dash across Arizona. She meets another charismatic hunk, Carson Hodges, a Native seer who vows to keep Mikka safe. When they encounter Henry after his escape from a secret underground military installation in the wilds of Yavapai County, the trio knows they must forget their personal desires and focus on Mikka's survival before the Company's dragnet snares them all.


Holiday cheer,
Clueless writer

Anonymous said...

Thanks Daniel, Kathleen and Anon, very helpful. Truly, it doesn't matter in the hook that Tess's brother is gay. And the plot is exactly what anon says.

And Miss Snark is right - I tried to hook her with backstory.

Hitting myself with the clue gun and trying, trying again.

Clueless writer

Rei said...

Let me offer Daniel and Kathleen a solid "ditto."

As for the "irony", it would be situational irony if, say, they had been prophecied to die in a helicopter crash, and then were in a helicopter crash but were the only survivors. It would be cosmic irony if they had been trying to kill themselves to save someone, and instead they crashed on top of the person they were trying to save and survived. It could be tragic irony (the tragedy being for the pilot) if the pilot was intentionally trying to crash the helicopter to in order to take their lives, but the reader had already learned that Mikka had the ability to save her and her mother's lives if there were a crash. If would be socratic irony if Tess got on the radio and goaded someone to shoot her down, pretending to think that she could simply swerve out of the way, knowing that in reality, Mikka could save their lives and the helicopter would crash on the attacker's position.

As it stands, it's simply fortunate.

As for the plot: this is unrealistic in so many ways. An unnoticed affair with the president, a company of aliens after them, etc. Not that this must be a bad thing. Men in Black, for example, plays on the unrealistic situation of a global alien conspiracy for humorous effect. The key is that this has to be a lack of realism on purpose, used properly. You make it seem like you were trying for realism but failed.

Anonymous said...

no matter how steamy their love affair, this President can't afford condoms?

Anonymous said...

Your second attempt is better, but still too wordy. Chop off the first two paragraphs and start with the President's disappearance. From the look of things, you're trying to either do too much or tell too much, possibly both. Is this Harrison's story or Tess's or Mikka's? Stick to one point of view and that should help you iron out the plot holes.

Anonymous said...

Author, I think you're still leaning toward more of a synopsys than hook in your second attempt. IMO, the hook would read something like:


Aliens from an advanced culture had genetically altered the daughter of The President and recent fling, Tess Shearer in an attempt to curtail Earthlings use of natural resources so that they can harvest them for themselves.


Tess sees the clues, and now the aliens and their Earthling cronies are after her and her child. The child has been given powers that allow her to transcend time and space which makes her a commodity that the sinister agency that has ensnared her brother wants to get their hands on.

If Tess doesn't (not clear what to put here) in time, warn the Earth's authorities, and (andother task), the Earth will be plunged into (dissaster)

IMO every other bit of info is incidental.