HH Com 251 (248)

When disgraced clinical psychologist Dr Steven Brady takes the only job he can get, tending the chronic patients in a rundown Manchester mental hospital, he finds the path to redemption more dangerous than he ever imagined. Among the residents is Mary Ward, a young woman with a violent past and a talent for knowing things she shouldn't - including the name that stains Brady's conscience. As Mary tells him of the boy who visits her in the night, the boy whose suicide he failed to prevent two years before, Brady slowly accepts what she is: a conduit, a living link between this world and those beyond.

But someone already knows her true nature.

Billy Crawford is a preacher, a self-styled messenger of the Lord, a madman with blood on his hands. Why has he befriended Mary's estranged mother? Why has he persuaded her to fight for her daughter's release after all these years? He keeps the secret close to his heart, lest anyone discover the awful thing that cold voice demands of him

Growing suspicious, Brady moves to protect Mary, his one hope of atonement - but atonement will cost him dear.

A 94,000 word paranormal thriller, CONDUIT explores the boundaries between mind and spirit, madness and faith, the gifted and the cursed. As it reaches its climax, the struggle between Brady and Crawford unleashes the dreadful power within Mary, and no-one is safe - least of all the girl each man sees as his salvation.

Pare this down and give us a sense of what's at stake. Why does Billy want Mary? She's a link to the world beyond? So what? You need to tell us why that's important.

And "path to redemption" means what? He wants to get out of Manchester? Who doesn't?

And "madmen" are boring. Intransigent, sure of their righteousness and willing to enforce their dogma preachers are scary as hell.

Start over.


Jocasta said...

I've lived in Manchester and agree with Miss Snark, this "path to redemption" can only mean Brady wants to get the hell out of there as fast as he can, especially if he works in a rundown mental hospital, talk about a cherry on the cake...

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to know how he was disgraced. If that's the redemption he's looking for, then the hook could be better by adding that point, then including how he'd be redeemed. I like the psych angle, I just think you're concentrating on the wrong thing in the hook.

Anonymous said...

I liked the idea of this--and I'd read it. I think the first paragraph is great. The one line after that needs work for a true punch--and the rest seems to go into too much detail.

Rei said...

Miss Snark seems to have complained about the same thing that those over on Elektra's COM complained about: vagueries about the characters' motivations.

At least the query improved from what was posted over there -- at least we now know what Dr. Brady is "disgraced" about (although not until the end of the 1st para). Thus, his reason for caring about Mary's powers can be deduced in this version (although it's not explicit).

Conduit said...

Thanks Miss Snark for your comments. Funny, the things you picked out were exactly the things I was nervous about with this hook.

The "path to redemption" in retrospect was fluff - I kept reading the you should have a "When..." moment at the start of the hook, so this was kind of forced in. Really, it serves no purpose, so out it goes.

When I started reading the other hooks and your responses to them I realised "madman" was a mistake. I'll have to get his character across in another way.

I thought what was at stake was clear, but obviously not. Back to the drawing board! :)

Anonymous said...

I get what's at stake for Brady; it's Crawford who's the problem, because you're building suspense by keeping it vague. The way it's described, I'm guessing he's in thrall to a demon or something who wants to use Mary's power. (But what is that power, beyond the ability to contact the dead?)

This hook actually sounds like decent cover blurb copy to me. But if the big reveal is "Brady was dead the whole time," I as a reader would be exceedingly annoyed!