12.24.2006

HH Com 415

I’m sending you the story of Dr. James Shannahan, whose Project Hour Glass has overturned his life. Inadvertently, he (your hook starts here--->)has discovered the genetic key to the eventual extinction of the human race and –– horrified by the moral implications of his research –– has fled his powerful employers, HelXlab. Ironically, they believe Shannahan has found the cure for aging and will stop at nothing to find it, and him. (and ends here)

The largest generation on earth is obsessed with their own aging, entranced by the thrills
that embrace science and madness, and eager to invest in the deeply human story of a man who could play God –– and the incredible woman who saves him.

That second paragraph makes me reach for the Zippo. My desire to read pages plummets in direct proportion to how many people you tell me are "eager to read" or in this case "invest" in your novel. If you take away nothing else from this little 600+megawatt crapstravaganza, remember this: people read novels because they like the characters or the story. People do NOT read novels about issues. That is an ironclad rule. You will apply this rule by never ever ever writing anything that resembles paragraph two again.

Go back to your novel. Fill in the XYZ with the elements from your story. Then hone it so it becomes your own.


X is the main guy; he wants to do:
Y is the bad guy; he wants to do:
they meet at Z and all L breaks loose.
If they don't resolve Q, then R starts and if they do it's L squared.

8 comments:

merper said...

Are you sure about the issue bit? Don't see why else The Da Vinci Code did so well.

shannon said...

The Da Vinci Code did well because of hype.

Personally, I'm with Snark on this one. I gravitate toward books whose characters I can believe in and who I care about, in situations that are as believable as necessary. I steer clear of any book that promotes itself, that tries to bully me into reading it or claims it can change my life. The more people who say "A Million little Pieces changed my life", the more I steadfastly refuse to read it. I don't want to be preached at. Granted, there's a huge market for self-help.

But this is fiction we're talking about here. You may have a great book, well written, supurbly plotted. But your hook doesn't convince me of that, and whenever I read submissions in the slush pile where the author has researched the potential market for their book, or why I should love it, I sink my heels in. Don't tell me how I should feel or react to your book. Tell me why it's a good book.

LindaBudz said...

Merper ... The Da Vinci Code was a brilliantly plotted (note I did not say "well written") page turner. I couldn't have cared less about Dan's take on the "issue" ... I wanted to know what was going to happen next!

#415 ... Miss Snark is sooo right about the second paragraph! Just sounds silly. I do like the premise of your book and would be interested in reading something like this.

Signed, A Snarkling who unabashedly enjoyed The Da Vinci Code and would like this book even though she is not aging. Really. Cause I drank from DeLeon's Fountain in St. Augustine a while back.

Anonymous said...

Da ... hahahaha ... Da Vinci Code ... hahahaha

Ahem.

I actually think this sounds like a cool book, and while the second paragraph pretty much sucks, the way I read it is that the 'largest generation' is the world located IN the book, and that this guy's not trying to predict how readers will hunger for the book. I can imagine how HelXlab might reveal why they want him, so they have the entire general public looking out for him ...

merper said...

I agree that this hook isn't really good.

I also agree that The Da Vinci Code was a page turner.

But it wasn't any more well written than 100s of other page turners. The twist was well delivered, but it definitely didn't knock your socks off like say the twist in Memento. Yet it has sold an ungodly # of copies. Yes, that was because of the hype. But why was there so much hype? It was almost certainly because the book taking issue with the divinity of Jesus.

I'm not saying that the issue can make the book - and Brown definitely gets credit for writing a page-turner - but it can catapult forgettable characters and a mediocre plot beyond levels they could have normally achieved.

Anonymous said...

I love the premise, but if you're writing a hook then he's probably going to either have to try to stop the extinction, or mutate a gene somehow that saves at least a part of the population. Otherwise, there is no plot, it's just a problem that you're writing about.

Anonymous said...

I'd be wary of requesting pages because of the overuse of past perfect in the first paragraph. It would be too cumbersome to read an entire manuscript written as such.

Anonymous said...

Well, I've bought novels based on issue (the issue being that of sexual orientation) many times, because it takes me too long to learn my lesson.

Finally, I've stopped. IF a novel is about gay people and has great writing, I'm there. But no more picking up the latest gay-oriented murdery mystery. Too often the writing is dire and the characters leaden.

That said, this hook is probably just very unfair to the book. It barely scrapes the surface of a plot and characters, and wastes time with the second paragraph. It might actually be fairly interesting to sci-fi readers.