HH Com 69

When Cyril Kasparos wakes up one morning, suddenly able to hear thoughts, the first thing he does is work up the confidence to ask out the girl he’s had a crush on. That settled, he tries to figure out just where the professor he does research under has disappeared to for the past couple days. Two weeks later, he’s on the floor of a San Francisco townhouse with
half a bullet in his head.

Detective James Burton already knows part of what happened in between; he helped the FBI raid Cyril’s then-empty Berkeley apartment two days ago. For the rest, he turns to the journal the man’s left open on his home computer, addressed “To the person who finds my body.” What follows is a detailed account of Cyril’s final days. Everything Burton needs to close
the case – if any of it’s true. Can he really believe there’s a corporate conspiracy against alternate energy research? Or an underground society fighting it? People to whom hearing thoughts is just a byproduct of being able to manipulate matter and energy itself?

Whatever Cyril got himself into – it’s not over yet. Even as Burton considers the anecdote, he’s forced to shoot around the Bay Area, dealing with unsolicited FBI agents, mysterious new blood stains and the disappearance of the ambulance carrying Cyril’s body. As the incidents
pile up, Burton realizes he’s got hours, not weeks, to figure out just what happened. Or the case – and whatever Cyril died for – will be gone forever.

There's a lot to forgive here, but I'm going to look past "underground society" cliches because of COURSE the first tthing you'd do if you could hear people's thoughts is try to date a hot chick. Well...hot guy in some of our cases.

This isn't the best hook I've ever seen, and I'm not sure the plot isn't hackneyed, but I'm going to ask for pages just in case.


Anonymous said...

One word. Heroes.

But I'd still read this.

Anonymous said...

hmmm - the first thing I would do is make some money- THEN i'd go for the hot chicks.


Anonymous said...

When you force someone to 'shoot around the Bay Area,' what do they end up hitting? Salinas? Monterey? Somewhere central valley?


Heather Wardell said...

I would go for a guy less attractive than my own good self, and then I could hear everyone thinking, "Why is someone like her with someone like him?" The way it stands now, it would be the other way around.

I felt sure this was going to get a "this is a mess" rating. I'm reasonably accurate at picking how MS will rate, but this one got away from me.

Anonymous said...

This doesn't make sense to me. I don't get how this plot is put together at all! Maybe it works in the manuscript, but the hook suggests the story is wandering all over the place and has a "suspension of disbelief" problem. I'm not sure I'd read it. I don't see much in this hook that indicates the writer has the capability to weave together an interesting and believable story. Write something you didn't already see on TV.

Anonymous said...

Who's dead on the floor in the first paragraph - Cyril or the professor? It's ambiguous. I got completely the wrong end of the stick as a result.

And of course, we'd all go for the girl we had a crush on - but I wouldn't use that as your first sentence. I'd leave it out entirely. It sets the wrong tone for the rest of the story.

I'm guessing these are two of the "lot" that Miss Snark was willing to forgive, in case you were wondering.

Anonymous said...

Could someone explain what's unique about this plot to me?

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who read the first line and thought of a recent Mel Gibson film?

HawkOwl said...

It's not incompetent, but it's really generic. No.

merper said...

As the author, I agree with the sentiments expressed so far. This query expresses so little of the main plotline. I can completely see why the fantasy(paranormal?) elements look totally derivative. The society is not really some sort of ancient order. The power is not all that derivative(and I've done quite a bit of research to check that out at least).

I don't think that putting in the part about asking the girl out set the wrong tone though(although the wording of that was awkward, IMO). It was meant to show that Cyril was not some mindless do-gooder, and apparently that was what got me in.

I did, however, cringe when I wrote "shoot around the Bay Area." In my defense, I wrote this an hour before 8EST and didn't have much time for revision.

Hopefully, I can redeem myself with the pages. Thanks for all the comments.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry merper, I re-wrote before sending my hook in too. I found a few things wrong with it and I was drunk but, who cares try again. It not like Miss Snark was going to actually take you on as a client. She probably just wanted a good laugh. Bad woman.

Anonymous said...

I liked this one. I liked that the guy who wakes up hearing thoughts is found dead and the story is about solving his murder. I'm more in sync with Miss Snark today (than yesterday).

knock on wood.

MWT said...

The first sentence leads me to believe that we're going to get a light-hearted romantic comedy type story. The second sentence leads me to believe that we're going to get a murder mystery of the professor, told from the point of view of Cyril. The third sentence confuses the heck out of me, because obviously it's neither of the above if the main protagonist (which looked like Cyril up to this point) is dead.

Comments thus far: I would rewrite the first two sentences so that there isn't so much emphasis placed on the "ask for a date" bit. Such as: "Cyril Kasparos wakes up one morning, suddenly able to hear thoughts. After using this to his advantage to get a hot date, he tries to figure out what happened to the professor..."

However, in the second paragraph we discover that the story isn't about Cyril as the main POV at all. The main protagonist appears to be Detective Burton. Therefore, I would rewrite the hook entirely from the point of view of Detective Burton, not start it with Cyril's.

Meanwhile: I'm beginning to think that HawkOwl doesn't like any story period. Either that or it just makes her feel better to put people down. Thank you for including your name each time, though, so I know when to scroll past your comments. :p

merper said...

I've got a rough idea for a cleaner and leaner hook thanks to the comment trail, but I'm bogged down with finals and editing the first 750 words, so it'll have to wait till those are done. The basic outline is this:

I wouldn't say either Cyril or the Detective are the main characters, because the book is an equal split between the two(Cyril in his journal and the Detective in real life). They really depend on each other more than this hook indicates. Let's just say that even though Cyril is dead, he still needs the detective to do something for him. (and no it's not reanimating his corpse with a voodoo ritual or even converting his body into energy)

What I tried to show was that the detective and Cyril are both 3D characters, which is what the whole line about him asking the girl out was about. It was meant to be a bit of humor, and I still like it in there. I do have to work on the shift to the main plotline, which is darker and more serious. (and hopefully not derivative)

Also, I completely understand the suspension of disbelief issue with that last sentence of paragraph 2. Perhaps it's best to save that for the story itself.

Virginia Miss said...

merper: yes, cut the last sentence of paragraph two.
You also need to clarify that Cyril, not the professor, is on the floor with half a bullet in his head.
mwt had a good suggestion for transitioning from the crush to the investigation of the missing professor.

Unlike some other commenters, I didn't have any trouble with the switch from Cyril to the detective. Maybe I've seen that in enough detective stories, for example one or two Dalgliesh mysteries).

Congrats on hooking Miss Snark.

Anonymous said...

The only bit that confused me was the reference to "half a bullet". Without getting technical - and with a disclaimer that I'm no expert - maybe it is "correct" that it's just half a bullet, if you're counting the casing, or maybe you mean it splintered somehow? I read it weird the first time and thought he was just injured. Basically, I'm a bit confused.

I loved the set-up. The quick, punchy lines about Cyril to the detective piecing it together. Sounds like fun, and a head-squeeze. I'd definitely be interested in this one (I think the fact it was NOT going to be another What Women Want stinker that made me like it so much). There's also a real sense of time, as in it's running out, though I hope you haven't dug yourself into a big pile of poo by mixing so many genres!