12.22.2006

Hh Com 317

The first policeman on the scene noticed many strange things about the body.

For one, it was oozing green. Bodies rarely do that, not bodies this fresh. For another, there didn't seem to be a head involved. And while there were legs and arms – or at least arm-ish and leg-like appendages - he counted ten. Not the more usual two of each.

As more police swarmed the scene, taping off and photographing and putting things in little bags, they noticed stranger things. The dead Hydra – for Hydra it was (or had been) - wore a tailored suit. They found a Registered Mage card in a pocket. They assumed the card was his but he was hard to identify from the photo of his face with his entire cranium missing. The neck was a dead ringer, though. The unchewed bits. And this was the first Hydra anyone had ever seen wearing anything. Or carrying anything beyond bits of waylaid victims. Or who had not survived decapitation by growing two more, very annoyed heads.

The moment Inspector Willis arrived on the scene, she swore. The information she'd received from her superiors as to the body's probable identity was confirmed with just a glance at the victim.

She knew what she was going to have to do.

And she didn't wanna.

This is a first page. Of course I want to read more. It's vivid and funny and there's that nice "she didn't wanna" at the end.

You GOTTA have a hook that's not your first page though. Particularly if you're submitting to people on only want a cover letter, or only read email queries. Don't miss a chance to get theme to read your work by not having a good hook.

22 comments:

Inkwolf said...

I think it sounds promising, though! :)

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who's wondering why almost everyone who's attracted to this contest is either doing YA or supernatural? Is this what most people are writing these days, or is it a coincidence?

Anonymous said...

Anon--you are not the only one. Where is just good 'ol "regular" fiction? It's all winged hampsters and vampires.

dana p said...

And this was the first Hydra anyone had ever seen ... who had not survived decapitation by growing two more, very annoyed heads.

Hehe -- loved it. I was just reading along thinking, "dead alien, big deal," until I reached this bit, and then I sat up and started paying attention.

Congrats on making the SFF-averse Miss Snark want to read more, author!

cm allison said...

anon,
I didn't "submit" YA or supernatural, but you have a LONNNNNNG wait before I get snarkified. (No vampires, no world take-over, no murder. sorry december quinn)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous...
I've wondered the same thing. I had no idea the supernatural was such a popular theme. Because SF and YA weighs in so heavily, I find myself more interested in the other genres that show up. Not to say some of the SF and YA isn't intriguing and well done, it's just getting....what? Repetitious?

Jenn Moffatt said...

I really like it too.

Anonymous #4 said...

Anonymous #1, #2, #3 - I'm with you. I don't get supernatural, and, while I like YA, I don't buy it. There seems to be a lot of both in this COM. And I don't think Miss Snark likes "good 'ol regular" fiction as you call it, #2. She has been pretty harsh on some good ones, asking where is the burning hair.

Anonymous said...

"it's just getting....what? Repetitious?"

This is *the* most important lesson to be learned from the HH COM. to rise above the ordinary, our queries have to be either spot on or unique.

Both is gravy.

A Paperback Writer said...

Author, yes, it does sound good, but it struck two hugely familiar chords with me that I think I should point out to you:
1) Inspector Willis as a name sounds an awful lot like the hugely popular Inspector Rebus. I immediately wondered if you were doing a spin-off of Ian Rankin. If you're not, you might consider a different name that doesn't make readers think of Rebus.
2) The body oozing green sounds just like Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald," a sci-fi take off of Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, using aliens. Gaiman's work is in his recent Fragile Things. You might want to look at it to make sure yours isn't too similar.
Other than those two things, I was very interested in the the idea. Good luck.

Kristi said...

I am soooo not getting what makes a hook and what doesn't. Formula aside, this looked great to me.

Anonymous said...

This is really odd.

I was expecting 'This is not a hook.'

I was expecting to argue with people over the penultimate sentence's passiveness.

I was expecting to finally sleep tonight.

Damn you, Miss Snark. Now I have to polish the next 500-odd words. And not sleep for the next week worrying about my next Snarking. (Seriously, though - Thank you. And to the others who felt they enjoyed this enough to post a comment. You've made a wannabe writer very, well, very distracted and not worth living with, to be honest. But thank you all the same.)

Anonymous said...

I liked this! However, I was distracted by the hydra description--I thought hydras had nine heads. I wasn't aware of them having so many limbs. So I got confused. Whether I'm right or not, that's the mythological baggage I came in with, and the difference of what you describe distracted me.

Anonymous said...

Anon above...

The Hydra was supposed to have 9 heads. Or 50. Or 100. Different depictions have shown it with no legs (very snake like), four legs, four flippers, two flippers, multiple tentacles etc.

There's also only supposed to be one of them, but I've made them into a seperate species.

Like all fantasy authors referencing mythology, I stole what I liked and changed what I didn't. I do it a lot through the novel with other creatures.

Plus, I figured, in the Hydra myth, Heracles couldn't have been the first person to try decapitation. Maybe the Hydra had started with one head and grew a couple more after run-ins with less successful heroes before Heracles. Also goes towards the hints that this particular Hydra wasn't the ravening monster of its fellows if no-one had tried to chop his head off before.

You weren't wrong, but it might be something I'll need to address in future drafts. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I've included a hook - just to prove I can (though it's cheating to do it after reading though what everyone else has done.) Miss Snark's done too many of these already, but if other people want to comment, please do:

There’s a dead Hydra in a suit. He’s missing his head, though.

Colws the Halfling and Retraive the elf need to find out who killed the world‘s first intelligent Hydra. And why. And, just as strangely, how. If they don’t, Colws may never make up with his girlfriend. They won’t get paid. And the corpse may just destroy the city.

In 21st century Sydney, a city teeming with fairies and minotaurs and werewolves, oh my, they find lots of potential suspects. And after they’ve had buildings disintegrate around them, run out of ways to torment Detective Inspector Willis and gone through that nasty business with the vampiric fairy, Colws and Retraive are starting to wish they’d killed the guy themselves.

Karen Duvall said...

To the anons who don't get the popularity of YA and urban fantasy, it's because those genres are very hot right now. Editors were hungry for it, though I don't know about now. The market gets glutted and then the usual happens. However, I've loved urban fantasty way before it became "cool."

You do ask a good question, though. Why not more "regular" fiction, however I didn't notice more of one than the other. Looks like a mixed bag to me, but I haven't had a chance to peruse all of Miss Snark's evaluations yet.

MWT said...

I really like the wry, understated humor in this one. :) Good job, author!

As for the proportions of genres ... I think someone somewhere might be keeping track. I've seen quite a number of "mainstream" fiction float by, though, and even wrote extensive comments on several. For some reason I can think of more things to say on the mainstream ones than the supernatural ones, even though I prefer reading the latter.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about this question a lot. Why so many fantasy submissions? Especially as someone who submitted fantasy.

I think there are a few reasons.

1. People think writing fantasy is easy. They're dead wrong. Just try writing three pages of expositionary dialogue and not have it look like an info-dump. But people still think it is.

2. Fantasy has always been pretty good (yes, there's bad fantasy out there. But there's bad EVERYTHING out there) But thanks to LOTR and Harry Potter people are reading more of it and suprising themselves over how good it is. They're also realising there's more to fantasy than JUST LOTR and Harry Potter.

3. Fantasy is humanity's default setting. People make up stories. And the fantastic makes them interesting. That's what mythology is - Fantasy stories about the world that were good enough to be repeatable. And mythology is in every culture. We even have Urban Myths in our oh-so-grown-up society. We've done it since we could talk. Scientific revolutions haven't changed that, just made us more aware of the idea that fantasy is 'just a story'. Hell, I consider ALL fiction to be fantasy. It's all 'just a story'. The moment you invent a character, you're telling a story about something untrue. You have woven a fantasy about something (someone) who doesn't exist and tried to make it follow a logical narrative structure. That's all fantasy is, it's just that fantasy authors are more willing to run with the concept. And people are just built to tell stories that way. Watch kids tell stories. They do the same - fantastic elements as close to logical as possible. And with an integrity (if not always an honesty) that's sometimes breathtaking. It's built into us. Sometimes, unfortunately, it's deliberately taken out of us.

Ummm... that post was longer than I intended it to be. Oops.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that fantasy and YA are so heavily represented because this is a blog, and online journaling communities gear very heavily toward young women, and young women on the internet gear very heavily toward fantasy and YA. It's just a demographic skew.

HawkOwl said...

It kinda came apart in the last three paragraphs, but I'd look at it.

Anonymous said...

Well, that was a reason from the POV of someone who obviously adores (and writes or at least reads) fantasy.

My POV is entirely opposite, and I, too, have been wondering why so many fantasy hooks. But if it's said to be "hot", that would explain it.

That said, this sorta crossed the line to police procedural (which I read) with fantasy elements, and did so with humor. I am rooting for this author's pages to be good.

phsymom said...

Love the humor. I would definitely pick this up to read.

Good Luck!