12.22.2006

HH Com 352

“Love.”
No answer.
“Love.”
No answer.
“John Love!” I cried, losing my patience at last. “Wake up, for Christ’s sake.”
“What?” he asked finally, and then rolled over again and asked no more.
I thought about kicking him, and then repented of it. I sighed and sat down on the edge of the bunk bed.
“It’s your Ma, Johnny. She’s in the hospital again.”
Yeah, that got him up, all right. Not awake, maybe, not fully, but reeling out of bed. Stubbed his toe, too, before he found his bleeding slippers, which gave me a little satisfaction, but, to do me credit, not all that much.
“What’s happened?” he asked.
“Same thing as always happens, isn’t it?”
She drinks, see? But I didn’t like to say it point blank like that.
“How bad?”
“Calling from the hospital bad.”
“Shit,” he said. He never swears, except about his mother. She’s the type who’d have washed his mouth out for it in days gone by, so you can work that one out for yourself, I believe. “She called, or someone called for her?”
“If she called herself, you’d be having this conversation with her, not me, now wouldn’t you?” Nice guy, but the brightest bulb in the room I don’t think.
“How did you . . . How did she . . .”
“Let’s go on into the kitchen now, Johnny boy. I’ll make you a nice cup of tea and then I’ll tell you all I know.”
“Whiskey,” he said.


This isn't a hook, it's a first page. It's a first page with nothing that confounds my expectations or entices me to read on.

Start over. Use the hook format. Then make it your own.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

How do slippers bleed, and is there a society for the prevention of cruelty to them?

Too much skeleton, not enough flesh. Gregory Mcdonald got away with that in his Fletch series, but dang few others can.

Bella Stander said...

The author lifted the opening of TOM SAWYER, which begins:
"Tom!"
No answer.
"Tom!"
No answer.

Are we supposed to notice this, or not?

dana p said...

Apparently my comment disappeared into the ether... so here I go again:

I love the voice. I would most definitely turn the page -- hell, I might even buy the book based on this excerpt alone (the paperback version, that is -- I'm cheap).

Good job, author, and good luck with the query process.

seanag said...

Thanks for the comments, all. I realized as I progressed through the list of other entries that what I'd submitted wasn't exactly what had been called for. I appreciate your encouragement, dana p--thanks for taking time to repost it, because it does make a difference.

As for the parallel with TOM SAWYER, it is accidental, and I'm not entirely convinced that Mark Twain would consider it lifting. But that's worth keeping in mind.