HH Com 272 (269)

Some people have the Bible -- Jay Williams has the words of the Poet. Jay has memorized every word the Poet has ever published, follows him from reading to reading, and waits outside his house for hours every night in hopes of glimpsing him. At the Poet’s readings, Jay collects the air and sound from individual poems in glass jars, believing that he can capture the essence of the words and of the man. But a moment of weakness reveals to Jay what he has sacrificed for his obsession: companionship. Loneliness turns to panic when he learns that the Poet is about to move to the other side of the country. Will a desperate trip to Bangkok give a new meaning to Jay’s life, or has he sunk too far into the depths of hero worship to regain his true self?

You don't read crime fiction or you'd never name a character "The Poet" even if he is one.

As far as I can tell you have a crazed stalker carrying around jars of air.
Where does Bangkok come in? Do they sell clues? Maybe Jay can pick me up a few while he's there?

You need to be specific. This doesn't work.


Anonymous said...

He believes he can capture the "essence"? You mean he believes that? I am dying to know how you could possibly make that belief convincing for the reader.

I suspect you haven't written the novel yet. I can't think of any way you could make that feel true without the pallor of mental illness. Yours, his, The Poet's, whomever.

Is Bangkok the name of a holistic psychiatrist or his sister's meth dealer?

Seriously, you could make this interesting if you drop the crazy stuff and consider what's at stake. What does it matter to anybody whether he regains his true self or not? Unless by Jay Williams you meant David Letterman.

Anonymous said...

Michael Connelly is the ref to The Poet.

Kit Whitfield said...

Possibly you're an excellent poet, but if your strength is prose (which it is with most novelists), be very careful if you write any stuff for the Poet. Bad verse written by good prose stylists is a traditional and lethal way to make yourself look foolish. Personally I wouldn't dare use a poet at all, but if you do, and the poet is quoted, get yourself a ruthless friend and ask them for their honest opinion, with particular reference to the verse.

Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting David Letterman frequents his sister's meth dealer, Bangkok?

Anonymous said...

This could be good. I love stories about obsessive nut jobs, bordering on sanity. I'm guessing insanity is the antagonist here? You'll probably need to throw a few more things out there to make a good hook, but I like the Hinkley type stories.

Anonymous said...

By dropping the 'crazy stuff'does this commentor mean to imply, it is better to write without using one's imagination?

Anonymous said...

"in hopes of glimpsing him" does anyone see anything wrong this?

Use simple words. You don't have to write anything with fancy words. This is wrong and it turns me off. Why? Because you tried to hard.

I understand the pressures of writing. I think it is save to say most of us do. But, we don't need to make this harder by gettin' all fancy. Unless the story calls for it such as narration or 1st person.

Ya dig? I believe in you and I know you can do a better job.

xiqay said...

I liked it.

You've got a character with a personality (warped as it is), a problem that is coming up quickly.

The stakes are unclear.

The last two senences throw me off the trail. Up until the idea of a desperate trip to Bangkok, I want to read this.

And I'm not bothered by "in hopes of glimpsing him." Sounds okay to me.

I do agree with the comment about poetry and the difficulty of writing it when you're mainly a prose writer.

Good luck.

jamiehall said...

So far, all you've given us is a stalker who could be about to lose prime access to his stalkee (but he could solve this problem merely by moving).

The character sketch doesn't make the MC sound interesting enough to read the book unless there is more to it than this.

Therefore, you need to rewrite the hook. If nothing else is really going on, you need to make the MC more interesting. Otherwise, you need to tell us about the other things that are going on in the book.

Fuchsia Groan said...

The stuff about capturing the poet's essence could work in a beautifully written magical realist novel about the power of art to change lives, blah blah blah. Not my personal bag, but it might go over well with the writing workshop crowd.

What I'm confused about is this: If the poet is moving across the country, why doesn't he just go there, following in Deadhead fashion? Why go to Bangkok? Is it just the Poet's moving that triggers a crisis for this guy, or is there something else? And if so, can the author hint at it in the hook?

Virginia Miss said...

This might be literary fiction. He certainly sounds like an interesting character.

I think writing hooks for character-based fiction would be much harder than for mainstream and genre fiction.

Crystal Charee said...

I like the idea of being obsessive over something/someone and then trying to pull yourself out of it.

I also like the collecting of air and sound of the poems in jars. I wonder if murmering or laughter or crying from the audience taint the poem or enhance it. When he opens the jars, does he actually hear the poem again?

By the way, how does Jay avoid a restraining order? Does he ever speak to The Poet? Is The Poet moving to Bangkok to get away from Jay?

I don't think that Jay gave up companionship by stalking The Poet. That was how he ensured it.

This would be a nice metaphor for giving up drugs or alcohol. Or, um, stalking people...