12.22.2006

HH Com 348

Bob Hillfinger adores Nobuko. She scintillates with energy. She is frustrated with her career and admires him, who'd set himself free by walking out of a job. He, Euro-American who'd never been anywhere outside America and Europe, is suddenly enthralled by Japan. He is 40, she 26. And they just met in a castle in France.

After one night together--she doesn't seem eager but doesn't hesitate--she returns to Tokyo and he to Atlanta. Normally, for Bob, this would be it. But five months later, he travels to Australasia and Japan. In Tokyo, they become soul mates for two blissful nights a week and occasional weekends. The rest of the time, she is unavailable and he errs through the incomprehensible megalopolis he comes to love and dread.

One day she says that, before Bob's arrival, her trusted friend Kiso-san proposed a relationship leading to marriage and children. He even granted her a 90-day reprieve to accommodate Bob. She respects Kiso-san. She loves Bob. But Bob had a vasectomy and isn't Japanese. Love and marriage aren't linked in Japan, she tells him teary-eyed, and now his 90 days are up.

Reeling, Bob flies to Vietnam and floats without purpose and end across the wondrous lands of Eurasia, writing love letters to Nobuko because he isn't whole without her and because he knows life isn't fair, not even to Kiso-san, who has the best cards in his hand, except for an ace.

(Commercial Fiction, 142,000 words)

Some of this just doesn't make sense: "he errs through the incomprehensible megalopolis he comes to love and dread" for just one example.

I'm guessing English is a second language for you. You're obviously skilled but you'll need the help of some solid critique work before you need to worry about a hook. This isn't ready to send out.

And 142,000 words is twice as much as you'll want.

3 comments:

Angus Weeks said...

Author, Miss Snark is entirely correct - your English syntax /grammar/whatever the correct word is makes it hard to tell what is going on here.

It is clear English is your second language (if English is your first language, then you have serious problems). Why not write in your first language?

Or maybe you have, but translated the hook into English to join in the Crapometer. Ah ha! In that case, I'd say that this reads more like a synopsis than a hook. Leave out the last paragraph, for a start. And don't give every detail of the plot but leave something to pique an agent's interest.

shannon said...

I'd also leave out lines like "she doesn't seem eager but doesn't hesitate" which are irrelevant here, and distracting.

"Australasia" is more of a political term than a travel location - it's unclear where, exactly, Bob went, cause the name includes a great many countries. Did he go to South-East Asia? Did he go to a particular country? Is it important to say where he went? They met in France, slept together, and didn't see each other again until five months later when he visits Tokyo. I don't think you need to give us his entire itinerary.

"he errs through the incomprehensible megalopolis he comes to love and dread." um, what? I've been to Tokyo, I lived in Japan for three years, I know what it's like to be a foreigner there. But I don't think "errs" is helping. To "err" is to go astray, or be mistaken. You mean, he makes a few faux pas, does some typical foreigner-type bungles? The best method is to be simple and clear. Fancy words like "errs" and "scintillates" are easy to misuse and come across as trying too hard.

Kiso-san "has the best cards in his hand, except for an ace." What does that MEAN? I could read a whole lot of nasty things into that, which I don't think you want. Avoid the metaphors.

You may have a lovely story here, but this synopsis doesn't present it well. For a start, it's long, it's meandering, it's very involved in the characters. There's whole paragraphs which could easily be summed up in one or two lines.

What you've got is a classic depressing unrequited love story. I've read Maurice Guest, that robbed me of a month or two of my life. I'm more hesitant to pick up another mopey story. I'm not saying it has to have a happy ending, but what's unique about these two?

Anonymous said...

Too many words you don't seem to know the meaning of. I agree--write in your own language or wait a while before trying to write in English. It's wonderful to try, but your understanding of your second language has to be flawless to get published.

For lit majors (who are most likely to pick up a lit novel), the misuse is jarring and off-putting.