12.21.2006

HH Com 278 (276)

Have a Magical Problem?
Magic Solutions, Inc. has the Resolution!

Have a fanatical technology freak unhinging the multiverse? Need to restore the fairytale universe from Brothers Grimm back to Disney? Have Magically raised zombies? Have a
problem with Giant God Squirrels eating religious followers? No problem! The CEOs at Magic Solutions, Inc., Launye Strider, fairy extraordinaire, and Henry Winston, frugal businessman, with their special band of outlaws will solve any magical problem for the right price. Step right
up! Don't mind the reality TV cameras or the government agents and enter into a contract today!

Disclaimer: Performance of contract may not delivered if Launye Strider, the sole magic user, dies during the contract period due to lack of magic water. Magic Solutions, Inc., while responsible for the enormous cost of magic water, is not responsible for any compensation in
this event. Consequential damages are not covered for any losses, legal repercussions, or future expenses from delivery of contract. Contract at own risk.


this is hilarious. It breaks every rule. There's no hint of plot or antagonist.
Of course I'm going to read it!

Why? Cause it's FUN. It's vivid, it's zippy, it's unexpected (ie fresh! new!).

I'm not saying this is the way to go for everyone but when it works it's ok to do this. The trick is knowing when it's ok.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very cool. Men in Black with magic. And I love the disclaimers.

anonymous said...

Hey, no problem if it works. No problem that it needs major punctuation overhaul. No problem that it reads like a script for a Popeil TV commercial. No problem that we were concerned with trivialities like prose and effective use of commas. Miss Snark, I stop puzzling over your taste. The most important thing I take away from this COM exercise is the happy thought that there are multitudes of other agents.

Anonymous said...

Um, this sounds an awful lot like Ghostbusters...

Anonymous said...

This is delightful :-)

Wallydrag said...

It's supposed to sound like a Popeil TV commercial. That's on of the things that makes it funny.

Set it and forget it!

Sometimes, things just hit us right that normally shouldn't. Why do people listen to Tom Waits when he voice is so different than a classical trained, honed one? Because, for some reason, it has a certain quality that piques our interest.

cm allison said...

This reads like a blurb from the back of a old Heinlein story, and i do beleive the name of that book was "Magic, Inc." Might want to pull it out of the library and check your story against his or another flame haired, pen-wielding, stiletto wearing lady will come to rip your soul from your body. I understand Mrs. Heinlein can flay a body alive one layer at a time.....

Number 377 said...

I'd read it! (So long as the punctuation and grammar are corrected.) It sounds like a lot of fun, and I like humorous fantasy quite a bit. :)

Laura K said...

Ummm...anonymous? Have you ever read advertising copy? The grammar is always like this. And since that's exactly what this "hook" is, the grammatical "errors" are perfectly acceptable. The only thing I would change--and it's personal preference--would be to put a dash between "Inc." and "Launye" and another one between "businessman" and "with".

And, actually, you're correct in every one of your statements. It reads like a commercial script because it is one. And if something works, well, that's what it is supposed to do, so yes, it's okay. It works for me, too, and I don't even read that kind of book. I guess you're glad I am not an agent. But I am glad Miss Snark is.

Anonymous said...

:Editor wakes out of slush coma:

What the hey...?

Whoa, when Snarkalicious is done I want a turn with it!

Kiki said...

Oooh, I like this one.
It reminds me a bit of Shanna Swenson's Enchanted, inc. in both tone and handling of magic.

I love 'hooks' that are less about form and more about voice. But then again, I usually read for voice rather than issues or strong plots.

Anon2: That's why querying widely is a good idea, isn't it? You just can't know when you hit the agent whose taste meshes perfectly with your own...

McKoala said...

Anonymous 2, most of that is OK in advertising - of which this is clearly supposed to be a parody.

Anonymous said...

It sure sounds a whole lot like Shanna Swendson's Enchanted Inc. books.

Ballpoint Wren said...

Magic water = gin?

Anonymous said...

Why do you feel the need to comment if you only have something negative to say? It's not even feedback that can do anyone any good. If this is such a waste of time for you, why are you here? Why waste your time reading any of it?

It's obvious that you have other things to do.

Like play with commas.

Dave said...

I can just imagine that this was the pitch for Ghostbusters.

It promises action, bizarre magic and most of all - fun. It entertains the reader and promises more. That's why it works.

Brady Westwater said...

Are the TV pilot rights available?

Seriously!

I wrote a lot of pilots back in the day and this could be on FOX next season - but you better hurry before someone rips you off.

Good luck!

KT said...

Well, ok. I have a feeling that you see it as "fresh" and "new" because you're not a fan of (especially YA) SFF. But hey, I couldn't even pull a hook together, so what do I know?

Anonymous said...

Well thank heavens for this. Even perfectly executed formulas are, well, formulas. And they tend to run together after awhile, good and bad.

This works because it pops. it pops because it's different. If this had been Hook 30 instead of Hook 278, "different" may have been annoying instead of fresh. The role of luck and timing in the submission process is an underrated factor. Whatever''s going on the agent's life when s/he picks up your envelope is going to affect the reception. It's just human nature.

But is HH COM 278 really that lucky? Or did the writer dip into Henry Winston's Magic Solutions, Inc. elixir just before hitting "send"?

Writer: Well done. I like it. Hold out for big bucks on the film rights.

Author said...

I can understand that people are bitter, that people will pick on my writing. I can also understand that things are a matter of taste. So go ahead pick on me, say that it could be better. I've written a better version of this hook already.

However, don't pick on Miss Snark. I'm eternally grateful to her. No, it's not because she chose mine. And yes, I was expecting to fail and relishing in the idea of being so bad that a full pail of gin would not be enough to redeem the lack of plot. Shouldn't we be thanking her for doing all of this? Instead of enjoying her break for the holidays, she's trudged through several hundred hooks for the sake of herself and for us. So she can teach more of us at a convention to a dumbfounded audience what makes a good hook.

Note: I know it's not perfect--what artist really thinks such things, so if you are going to say it sucks, break it down the the line and tell me *exactly* why and suggestions to fix it if it's not apparent. Leave the insults towards me. Please. I can take them and then you can serve my sub-interest in psychology. Perhaps then you can give me enough material for this or another book in the future, go ahead. I'll wait.

Anonymous said...

The concept sounds interesting, but I have no idea of what the plot of this story is. You've mentioned the two major protagonists and their business, but what is the conflict that they have to solve?

Anonymous said...

Gimmicky carnival barking. Step right up!

I'm sure the pages are stellar though. Can't wait to see what the author does without exclamation points.

jamiehall said...

A hook is anything, ANYTHING, that is extremely interesting to read. If you could make a list of phone numbers as interesting as HH Com 278 (276), then you would have a hook.

Inkwolf said...

Awe-inspiring! I'd buy this in a shot, and expect it would fill in the hole that Robert Asprin left when he finished the M.Y.T.H. Inc books and Phule's Company.

Termagant 2 said...

I liked this. If I were an agent (which I ain't) I'd have read MS pages.

The trouble is, this could work for one agent and have a different agent running for the Mylanta. I'm wondering how to tell when the unconventional approach might be best. Is it possible to know when to break the rules, or is it all a roll of the dice? If the latter, we should all do whatever the bejabbers we want and to confusion with the rules.

T2

Laurie Mann said...

This is clever. There have been a number of hooks (and would-be hooks) that tried to include magic. This one works for me.

A Paperback Writer said...

Well, I like it.
Author, you had me hooked after the first 2 lines.
As for the nitpicky stuff, well, some people just don't like winners. This looks like a winner to me (of course, I'm not an agent....). I know a lot of kids who'd pick this up in a second. Is it YA? I forgot to look.

katiesandwich said...

Way cool. Someone said that Miss Snark might like it because she's not familiar with the genre and doesn't know what's been overdone, but I would argue that "the writing trumps all"; even if a fantasy agent got this query and thought the premise overdone, s/he would probably overlook that because the hook is so creative, which indicates that the book is, too. Oh, and inkwolf is so right about this being in the vein of Asprin's MYTH books. Awesome!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I'm sitting in a living room full of family, the television blaring blues music, drinking a beer (#3), answering questions with monosyllables and sneaking peeks at the Crapometer (laptop beside me on couch) in between all this distraction. THIS entry perked me up. Made me read carefully. A hook is something that makes you want to read further. I want to read further. That's the point to this exercise, methinks. Congrats, writer. :)

Author said...

cm allison
Nope, sounds nothing like mine. Thank God. It's not a magic organization, but a band of outlaws with one magic user who solve magical problems.

BTW, it's called Waldo and Magic, Inc. No one can sue over a title unless it's trademarked and intended for commercial profit outside of a book. Never read it.

To those who thinks it sounds like Enchanted Inc, never read that either. Since this is set in outer space... I don't think it will read like that either.

However, I did read The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede which probably spurred half of this idea (Yes it has no dragons, but that's not the inspiration, it's the first paragraph of the first book--the concept of awry fairytale). Robert Munsch's Paper Bag Princess also. I did pick up some humor from years of my parents trying to "culture" me with Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Mel Brooks and Monty Python.

This idea predated most of the fantasy surge-- Shrek (which I also didn't see), before Ella Enchanted (Didn't see), Wicked (didn't read or see--no desire either), Firefly (saw some until it was canceled, skipped Serenity) or any of those other books/shows. I got the idea from a dream so ring up my subconscious sometime why I got this idea. I'd like to know too.

kt-- It's not a children's book by a long shot... unless I've missed something about the censors having drinks with the artists unions.

Major (apparent) conflict: Doing illegal activities while being broadcast on a reality tv show and outrunning government agents. I hoped that would show up in the hook. If it didn't tell me how to do it better. I welcome all reasonable, specific comments. I don't care how harsh.

Virginia Miss said...

Clever! You should have no trouble snagging an agent. Kudos.

aardvark.novelista@gmail.com said...

If you need a beta read, go ahead and email me, # 278 (276). This sounds like a riot on ostrich wings!

Anonymous said...

I screamed when I read this. The word was 'Damn!'
I too, have magical trouble-shooters. I'd done my best to keep them away from Myth, Inc and crew.
Looks like I have another competitor.

Kudos, author. Well done.

Now I just have to wait for my turn. This is the first time I've felt grateful that I sent first pages. No mention of my two protagonists, just a hopefully intriguing set-up.

And I'm very grateful for my Ideal Reader also reading this wonderful hook, commiserating and then literally slapping me (she was very gentle) out of the doldrums with 'No way is this the same as your guys. Your guys are just weird.'

(Just had to say that part in public.)

'This is not a hook - this is a first page' here I come...

Author said...

To anonymous who wrote this:
"I screamed when I read this. The word was 'Damn!'"

There is no way that it's *exactly* the same. No way. Mine is set in outer space, it probably has a different brand of humor, and it has some weird plots. Unless you've had the same *exact* life experiences that I have had, read the same exact books, watched the same exact shows, and have parents who want to culture you the same exact way, there is no way both can be the same.

I injected a special form of humor--it's called what makes me laugh. So I wouldn't sweat it. *makes confession* I'm still stuck on the first draft.

aardvark.novelista@gmail.com

I'm a long way from a beta read... Even I know it. I was going to finish the novel and then cut it in half over the vacation, but it looks like I'm going into edits. I have people helping with the first 750 words.

However in the distant future I might take you up on it! I'm always looking for objective harsh critiquers.

Anonymous said...

author, calling those who are giving you what you perceive as negative criticism "bitter," answering defensively every remark directed at you that isn't congratulatory, and calling people out for snipping at Miss Snark--which they haven't done--is beneath you. Try for some dignity.

You pulled off a good hook. You don't have to explain, defend your decisions, or answer all the remarks that get up your nose. Let it go. You look more professional and classy that way. Anything else, at this stage, just comes across as pettiness.

Aconite

Anonymous said...

LOL looking forward to the pages... well done author imo