12.21.2006

HH Com 256 (253)

The only monster in Will Collin's life is another fifth-grader named Otis, who bullies him into being his flunky. Then Will has a brush with a mysterious rift that gives him a glimpse into a different world--and imbues him with the ability to do magic! Everything changes--or does it? As Will soon discovers, even magic is no help if you don't have the nerve to stand up for yourself. And when a monster from the other world slips through the rift and begins killing dogs and demolishing police cars, it gives Otis an idea that could cost Will his life.

[I realize SFF isn't normally your area, but I would greatly appreciate your comments anyway--and if JK Rowling's agent ever puts up a Crapometer, please let me know!] well, I'll do my second best for you, and of course, it's my great joy to keep you posted on opportunities from the person you'd prefer. No problem.


Too bad Otis isn't the main character. He's much more interesting to me. You need some specifics here and "cost will his life" is as overdone a "stake" as we've got.


18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ideas don't cost people their lives unless we're talking about burning heretics at the stake. Actions do, but I think I'd be hard-pressed to suspend my belief for very long on this one. I do have to agree with Miss Snark, though--too bad Otis isn't the main character.

Arthur said...

Uh...what an *ss. Please don't ask someone for advice, then go on to say you'd prefer someone else's. That's like going to a Beatles concert and yelling, "Hey, can you be sure to let me know when U2 is coming to town?"

More comments for you:
Since when do mysterious rifts "imbue" magical abilities?
I hope Will does die, he's a worthless wimp- try making me care about him before threatening to kill him.
What kind of monster ever comes to this earth killing dogs and demolishing police cars? My next door neighbor does that on a weekly basis.

Anonymous said...

:Editor stares:

Yes, this could cash in on the H.P. market, but you LOST me with the dead dogs. Forget it.

Love you, K.Y.

Bonnie Shimko said...

I loved the little end bit. It reminded me of something that happened yesterday in a jewelry store. A clerk (I was her daughter's second grade teacher) came over to me all excited and told me that she'd bought my new book for her (now grown up) daughter. Then she gushed, "It said in the newspaper that one of the characters was based on Miss Doe, and she was my daughter's favorite teacher!"

Ryan Field said...

You can't have a crapometer without deadpan sardonic humor.

charles said...

Has Miss Snark or anyone else stopped to think about what the real problem with these hooks is? It's not the hook that's flawed; it's the aspiring writer's grasp of the essential elements of fiction and how it works (to say nothing of how the business of publishing works).

I think insead of sending these people back to rewrite hooks, I'd tell them to go back and start revising (and I mean revise in the true sense of the term--not cosmetic surgery on sentence fragments) these severely problematic (and, as goes without saying, far from pitch-worthy) drafts.

Wabi Sabi said...

This sounds like the 'Dr Who' spin-off 'Torchwood' (a BBC3 TV programme - you probably don't get it in the US). 'Torchwood' features aliens coming to earth through a space-time 'rift', and the byeline for the prog is 'It's the 21st Century - when everything changes.' Maybe I'm stamping on your sandcastles, and there's no such thing as an original idea (is there?). Thought you should know, though.

Anonymous said...

Just to be fair to the poster -- I think he/she was trying to show deference to Miss S's taste, by acknowledging that SFF isn't really her thing, and then by making a (not-very-funny) joke about JKR. I don't think he/she was really implying that Miss Snark was second best.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I know this author is going to get flamed for the Rowlings comment, but I think it was just a ham handed attempt to compare the work to Harry Potter and intice MS to slap her forehead and yell, "Gad-zooks! Here's a Harry Potter of my very own."

Anonymous said...

The Christopher Little Literary Agency are probably too busy spending their squillions to help newbies.

She-who-must-not-be-praised must be in a mellow mood. The snarklings may not be so generous, so be prepared to be snarked.

Inkwolf said...

Anonymous said...
"The Christopher Little Literary Agency are probably too busy spending their squillions to help newbies"

Actually, the Christopher Little agency is probably hiding in a foxhole, sobbing and trying to blast their way to freedom from under a mountain of manuscripts by hopeful JKRowling-wannabees.

Stephen Parrish said...

I live overseas and tried knocking on Christopher Little's door. He's surrounded by minions who protect him ferociously. It's easier to get an audience with the queen.

M. Takhallus. said...

I have to second what Charles wrote.

I don't mean to sound cynical but the ratio of clever book ideas to manuscripts actually completed is probably 1000 to 1. And the ratio of completed manuscripts to published books probably 1000 to 1 as well. And the ratio of people who can't write a decent hook to people who can publish a book must be 100,000 to 1.

Sometimes I wonder if even a fraction of the approximately one billion wanna-be writers have spent any time at all thinking about why the want to write. Not why they want to "be" writers, but about the actual job.

It is a job, you know. Do you really want to live your life never knowing where your next paycheck is coming from, or how big it's going to be? You want life without unemployment insurance or company-paid healthcare? Are you really the kind of person who can make himself work unsupervised? Most people can't.

It's fun to be a wealthy and successful writer, but hell, it''s fun to be a wealthy and successful anything. Actually writing as your main occupation isn't much about bubble baths and inspiration. It's mostly just tedious. It's a little imagination and a whole hell of a lot of typing. A lot of staring at a monitor. I happen to like it because I'm anti-social and have authority issues, but most of you people aren't misanthropes. For most people I think it would be a miserable job.

Don't ask yourself "Wouldn't it be fun to have a castle like JK Rowling?" Ask yourself, "Would it be fun to stare at a monitor and type for six months only so you can be blown off by some 20-something assistant editor who's just six months from quitting publishing to marry a stockbroker?"

That's the job.

Anonymous said...

Is the Queen running a Crapometer by any chance?

Anonymous said...

"What kind of monster ever comes to this earth killing dogs and demolishing police cars? My next door neighbor does that on a weekly basis."

That's good to know, 'cause I was wondering what my cousin Tommy was up to since that prison thing was over. Tell him Skitz says hi, wouldja?

Sherryl said...

This kind of kid's book usually works better if there is a reason why the main character gets magical powers, and the reason figures largely in the plot and the outcome.
But it's been done a million times, so original twists are all that will save it (and a decent antagonist that's not a nameless, faceless evil).

desert snarkling said...

The hook is reasonably constructed; it's just that this story has been told a bunch of times before, and this one doesn't come across as any different from all those others. Bullied, misunderstood kid discovers magic and has to save people is the basis of a fair number of kids books.

Probably there are things that make yours unique. Somehow, they need to come through in the hook, I think.

Virginia Miss said...

Charles said: Has Miss Snark or anyone else stopped to think about what the real problem with these hooks is? It's not the hook that's flawed; it's the aspiring writer's grasp of the essential elements of fiction

Charles, Miss Snark has done a few crapometers in the past that focused on other aspects, such as reviewing first pages and query letters. In those instances she ruthlessly snarked poor writing and tired ideas. This go-round has a narrower focus, although a few lucky worthies will be asked to send in pages for further snarky comments, this time on the writing instead of on composing a hook.

Author: Lose the exclamation point, it looks amateurish. This looks like it might be cute.