12.16.2006

HH Com 89 (88 is skipped)

Grace and five other middle school students sneak off on bikes to save a dead bully’s soul after gossip brands one of them as a delinquent pervert; wrong turns force the kids to change how they view themselves and one another, while their parents drink, cast blame and come to blows.

Grace knows her brother Henry isn’t perfect, but he isn’t a pervert either, no matter what an out of control mom swears he did to her daughter. When the police show up and rumors run amuck, Henry and Grace descend into middle school hell. She latches onto a way to end their fall from grace: everything was fine until a car accident killed the neighborhood bully;
it’ll be fine again as soon as she gets the bully into heaven. If only it were that easy.

WTF?

I'm sorry but I honest to dog do not want to see "middle school" and "pervert" in the same sentence EVER. I know kids fling that word back and forth at each other without context but you've got context here.

And "sneak off on bikes" has zero relationship to "getting the bully into heaven" unless they plan to revive the closing scene in ET.

Focus. You're all over the map here.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is this world coming to anyway. Who in their right minds would think this is a good read?

This stinks, how did an idea like this become a good idea for a book?

Crap this one, I mean scrap this one. Sorry:)

M. G. Tarquini said...

I'm sorry but I honest to dog do not want to see "middle school" and "pervert" in the same sentence EVER.

Why are you apologizing? Parents everywhere just stood to cheer that statement.

Anonymous said...

Um.. I understood none of this. How are they saving a pervert's soul by sneaking off on bikes?

And PERVERT??? Who the heck wants to read or even know about young perversion?

Anonymous said...

OK. I have 0 comprehension of this weird ass plot.

Anonymous said...

"parents drink, cast blame and come to blows" I can totally read this in so many ways.

ac

HawkOwl said...

If you were telling the story of a child who becomes a sexual predator at a young age, from a neutral or adult point of view, it would be disturbing, but possibly intelligent. Like maybe as flashbacks while he's on trial for seven counts of murder. In a death penalty state. But I don't see what enlightenment I could possibly derive from seeing five middle-schoolers' take on it. That's just not something that's gonna contribute any cogent reflection to the question.

HawkOwl said...

What I really meant to say is, I'm actually very interested in seeing more of the "88 is skipped" story. What's the deal with 88? The suspense is killing me. Now that is a good hook.

Sonarbabe said...

For once, instead of saying, "Damn, ease up." I'm inclined to agree with hawkowl... on both counts.

The whole "pervert" comment without further explanation as to why he's being called one, makes this mother of two go, "Eww."

Secondly, what did happen to number 88??

Anonymous said...

So you can all agree that the hook bothers you... fine, but the hook says gossip labelled him, not that he was a pervert, and it says someone says he did somthing but it also says she was out of control... serioiusly, the book is in part about misunderstandings and the power of a label/word.
-the author

HawkOwl said...

Author: remember, it's your job to write the hook that's gonna make us want to buy the book. If your hook gave us the wrong impression, and we might all have bought it had you written a different hook, then you wrote a bad hook. So now you'll know to rewrite your hook so it talks more about gossip and less about "pervert." Actually I think it might be a good idea to just say the kids set out to investigate some malicious gossip and just not be specific about the nature of the gossip. Obviously you're ruining your chances with a lot of people by even mentioning the "pervert" angle, so if that's not your focus, get your foot in the door first and let the agent stumble upon it after s/he's already fallen madly in love with your masterful opening chapter.

MWT said...

Author: If the readers misunderstand to the point that they do in this comment thread, it's the writer's fault, not the readers'. It's up to the writer to make himself clear the first time, not the responsibility of the reader to do that work for him. And your clarification is even more confusing than your hook.

That being said, "juvenile pervert" aside ... your hook makes no sense. Paragraph one (or sentence one, rather) is not specific enough about the right things.

"Grace and five other middle school students" <-- who are the other students and how are they important?

"sneak off on bikes" <-- how is "sneak off on bikes" relevant to anything?

"to save a dead bully’s soul after gossip brands one of them as a delinquent pervert" <-- "one of them" would be which one, and why, and why is this important?

"wrong turns" <-- such as?

"force the kids to change how they view themselves and one another" <-- what kinds of changes, how did they view themselves before, how do they view themselves and each other now, and why is this important?

"while their parents drink, cast blame and come to blows." <-- nicely worded, but what does it mean? What part did the parents play in the story before? did that change, and if so how? Cast blame about what? Come to blows about what?

Second paragraph: Broadly, I think this should be the first paragraph, with heavy revision. You need to have a logical progression of thoughts, and at the moment it seems to be in the wrong order, with irrelevance scattered in between.


Meanwhile: I'm glad to see that HawkOwl is starting to respond with more substance than oneliner "this sucks" like in the earlier entries.

Anonymous said...

I'm not bothered by the pervert aspect, but by the fact that I can't work out what's going on.

Grace and five other middle school students sneak off on bikes to save a dead bully’s soul after gossip brands one of them as a delinquent pervert

The implication in this sentence is that Grace & co save the dead bully's soul because gossip brands one of them as a pervert, which I don't think (after several re-reads) is your intention. In attempting to summarise your story, you've smooshed things together in a way that makes them very confusing to somebody who's not already familiar with the plot. Cutting the first paragraph and just keeping the second, where things are laid out in a more logical order, would be a step in the right direction.

It also needs to be made clear why Grace believes that saving the bully's soul will fix her family's problem. The reason doesn't have to make sense to us, as adults, but we have to understand why it makes sense to Grace. Otherwise it's as random as, "Grace believes her dead cat will return if she eats a dozen bananas hanging upside down."

There could be a really interesting book about the destructive force of gossip here, but your hook's not doing you any favours.

Angus Weeks said...

Maybe 88 withdrew their hook.

I submitted two myself, and withdrew the second. Wasn't 88, though.

Virginia Miss said...

I like Grace's goal to help a bully's soul get into heaven, that seems fresh and interesting.

I really hate the first paragraph in this hook. Start with your second, and use the word "delinquent" instead of pervert.

Also, rewrite the "She latches" sentence, cutting "was fine until." Phrase it so that we see she's taking action to fix this problem, but then matters get worse when a car accident kills the neighborhood bully. We need to know how the car accident relates to the problem of hurtful rumors (did the bully originate them?), and why she undertakes her mission to help the bully get to heaven.
Good luck.

tomdg said...

I think it's clear from the hook that Henry isn't a pervert. The words "he isn't a pervert" kind of give it away for me. I'm sure Miss Snark figured that one out, even if not all of the posters here did.

Personally, I'd say get rid of the bikes and the supernatural stuff with the bully, make the MCs a bit older, and you've got a good story: "Grace knows her brother Henry isn’t perfect, but he isn’t a pervert either, no matter what an out of control mom swears he did to her middle schooler daughter. When the police show up and rumors run amuck, Henry and Grace descend into hell."

HawkOwl made a similar comment, although in his take, Henry is guilty, which is obviously a completely different story (a kind of Lolita for our times).

The way our society regards "perverts" is strikingly similar to the way the Nazis regarded the Jews, and it's getting worse. In the 16th Century it was witches, in the 1950s it was communists; now it's child sex offenders. Guilt by accusation. I know that wasn't quite what you said, but I'm looking at you, M.G.Tarquini and Sonarbabe.

But I'm guessing such a book would be commercial suicide, even if it were well-written and it made an intelligent comment on society. And what publisher would want their offices beseiged by the inevitable mob of outraged, howling mothers?

Anonymous said...

Author:
Coming back w/ a pissy defense of your confusing hook is so not what the HH Com is about and a waste of everyone's time.

Anonymous said...

I don't see anything pissy about what the author wrote. He/She tried to clarify the biggest concern among the commenters. People are freely giving their opinions on here and if an author wants to reply...so be it.

Really, most of the comments I've seen thus far (89) have been useless and non constructive. And there's so many repeat offenders. There should be a limit per person on comments, really.

M. G. Tarquini said...

The way our society regards "perverts" is strikingly similar to the way the Nazis regarded the Jews, and it's getting worse. In the 16th Century it was witches, in the 1950s it was communists; now it's child sex offenders. Guilt by accusation. I know that wasn't quite what you said, but I'm looking at you, M.G.Tarquini and Sonarbabe.

I'm uncertain what you're saying that I'm saying. I had the impression that this book is meant for the Middle Grade market. Cold day in h*ll I'm handing my ten year olds a book that has the parents drinking, casting blame and coming to blows, and which has one middle-grader determined to clear her accused brother's name from some nebulous, possibly sexual wrongdoing with a schoolfriend.

Call me old-fashioned.

Nothing in this book tells me this is a book for the adult market written from an adult perspective.

Am I understanding what you said, Tom? You're likening how people regard child sex offenders with how the Nazis regarded the Jews?