12.23.2006

HH Com 357

"You can't go there," said the bus driver categorically when I asked about the chambres de passage at the bus depot in Sikasso.
Instead, he stopped at an intersection and motioned to a vertical fluorescent light bulb. I thanked him and climbed off. It was 1:30 a.m. The hotel by the light was the Mamelon that Sam had managed before he got into the nightclub business. It meant ‘nipple.’ I woke up the guy on a mat in front of the door.
"Full," he said. "Try the Wassoulou."
"Is it far?"
"Yes."
"How can I get there?"
"By taxi." Not a single vehicle passed since I'd gotten off the bus.
"Where can I find a taxi?"
"Follow the noise," he said. I heard faint thumping. "A nightclub," he said. "There are taxis."
These were philosophical moments, alone, on a deserted street, walking away from the only light, in a town I'd never thought of going to before, and of which I didn't have a map.
The nightclub was Sam's Explosion. The guys outside thought I was one crazy white idiot with luggage in the middle of the night. I asked for Sam. It caused a stir and they became friendly.
"Sam went home early," they said. "It's Monday night."
"Where can I find a taxi?"
"At the main street," they said pointing into the dark.

Drifting overland through Africa, ex-businessman Jerry Mellinger, 42, loses his moorings and much more and emerges a changed man.


Well, this isn't a hook, it's a first page. I'm actually interested in African travels, so I'd read further but you need a hook.

You don't want to depend on luck to find someone interested in a particular topic. A good hook will help you snag interest from agents who didn't even know they were interested in this.

5 comments:

Elfje said...

This is some very strong writing you have here. I found myself pulled into the story after only a few sentences. It usually takes a couple of pages, but here you snagged me immediately. Keep it up!

dana p said...

I liked this excerpt. I'd definitely keep reading. More, please!

Angus Weeks said...

This is the first 'first page as hook' I've read so far in the crapometer that makes me believe the writer can write.

The only thing that nearly stopped me reading is that I don't understand the first sentence, at all. I read it several times and nearly gave up. Is 'chambres de passage' some sort of place to stay (which I assume from what happens later)? If so, shouldn't the bus driver say "You can't stay there", or, if you want it to be more prohibitive, "I can't/won't take you there" - if that's not what 'chambres de passage' means, then I'm still confused. Also, I think the 'categorically' is overstating too much.

The second sentence confused me too; I thought he was motioning to a light *inside* the bus since the only interaction thus far has taken place inside the bus, but I think the light is supposed to be on a building outside so you need to add that detail.

These are two perhaps minor details that maybe don't bother anyone else, but I thought your writing very strong and unfortunately that means I care to point out things! Please accept it as a compliment.

Ski said...

Lost....absolutely, completely lost....

Good Luck author, I hope you make the "big show."

Rgds........Ski

HawkOwl said...

I'd look at it.