Here is the hook for a paranormal romance/science fiction novel that I am co-authoring with another author. We'd love to get some feedback on the hook.
We'd like to submit it for a contest, but we know it's weak (particularly near the end) and would appreciate any suggestions and comments that could be lobbed our way.
Addison Harris and Shane Myers have a problem. It's not work. They love their respective fields of antropology and genetics. Being single parents, although trying, suits them just fine. Money isn't an issue. Their employer, the ubiquitous (ominpresent? infamous? puissant? far-reaching?) Triptych corporation, rewards them handsomely. Triptych's questionable ethics don't bother them, since Shane and Addison were virtually raised by the organization. Both were hand-picked by Triptych for their psychic and intellectual prowess.
Their problem is each other. Somehow, no matter how often they’re reminded of the depths of their loathing, Addison and Shane end up together... in bed. Or on the floor. Somewhere private. Usually. --------------------------------
[This message has been edited by vanessa71 (edited April 12, 2007).]
[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited April 13, 2007).]
It is an interesting idea, however the manner in which it is written leaves it unconvinceing to me. Addison and Shane loath each other and yet manage to end up in bed or on the floor? Hard to believe, I need a good reason, maybe more than one, to buy this. This all has to be prepared. we need to see them in circumstances that illustrate, without telling us so directly, that this is so - something that will lead us to our own conclusion that this is so. The same with the ethics, we need to see them in situations where they simply look the other way or don't care about the sleazy ethics of Tryptych. This is more of an outline, you have told us alot about these people and what is going on - but let us see it happening in well developed passages.
[This message has been edited by nitewriter (edited April 12, 2007).]
Paragraph 1 confuses me in some ways. I don't know why a corporation would pay an anthropologist handsomely. I don't know the sexes of Addison and Shane. "Although trying" -- I don't follow. They were virtually raised by the org -- I don't understand. Psychic prowess -- they're psychics? Then are they being used as psychics, or as anthropologist and geneticist?
Paragraph 2 makes it clear: we need to pick a POV character. (Possibly alternating between.) I don't know why they would loathe each other, or what this has to do with paragraph 1. The "usually" having sex in private makes me sure I wouldn't want to read this, although that's just me.
I think you should tell us there's magic at the start of your summary. Why would a skeleton leap out of a closet? Why is emotional attachment a liability? Why is family a leading cause of career mortality (and what is career mortality)? Whose son Jake? Oh -- Shane and Addison used to be married to each other? Tell us that earlier, I think. Why wouldn't they understand why Jake would want his parents together? It seems very natural to me!
OK: so it's The Parent Trap, from POV of one or both of the parents.
It is unclear how Triptych fits into this. I think when you clarify this, and what POV you're using, the synopsis will be more hook-y. I am not sure whether divorcees-getting-back-together is viable. It sure was for Disney back when...
I think the synopsis should tell us why they split up ("drifting apart" would be less interesting than "he couldn't handle the way she'd teleport him from the shower to the lecture hall without giving him a chance to dress"), and why they can't stay apart ("they like to Do It" being less interesting than something personal).
Of course, length limitations on this means you can't put everything in. So you'd need to decide what's essential for making the editor want to read, and what's not so much.
What's a hook? Consider it a movie trailer for your book. It's a brief description meant to entice and interest someone into wanting to read your novel. A hook does NOT list every character, subplot or setting detail - that's a synopsis.
I've seen this term and examples of it a lot on several literary agents, authors and editors blogs (and many of them frequently run contests to critique "hooks") so I thought that it was a generally well-known and well-used term.
A "hook" is supposed to be the "back cover blurb" that used to sell your book to interested agents and editors. It "hooks" them and gets their attention. It is generally worked into the query letter.
Katherine, I didn't see anywhere to post hooks, only the first 13 lines. I saw that a lot of people put Query: in their topic when it's a query, so I thought that "Hook" would suffice here. Is there a place to post things like hooks and synopsis for critique. Can I repost the entire hook? This is not the first 13 lines, as defined above, but the back cover blurb?
[This message has been edited by vanessa71 (edited April 13, 2007).]
Here's the new, revised version (at 296 words). [url=]This is the contest.[/url]
Title:Strange Little Band Genre:Paranormal Romance
Addison Harris is a top psychic at the Triptych Corporation. While psychics and witches are common at Triptych, human-alien hybrids like geneticist Shane Myers are not. Shane and Addison enjoy all of the benefits awarded senior Triptych employees: generous salaries, comfortable quarters, and cutting-edge facilities. The company's questionable ethics don't bother them, since Addison and Shane were virtually raised by Triptych. Both had been hand-picked for their paranormal and intellectual prowess.
They could be a formidable pair – if not for their deep-seated distrust of one another. Considering Addison's reputation for psychic lobotomies and rumors of Shane using his healing ability as a weapon, caution seems prudent. Due to Shane's and Addison's disparate fields of genetics and anthropology, their paths seldom cross.
Triptych's creature comforts come at a cost. With the latest technology, psionics, magic at their disposal, upper management knows virtually everything about their people, including which genetic crosses would yield optimal results. Making a genetic donation is strongly encouraged.
As luck – or Triptych – would have it, Addison's donation met Shane's. Addison herself didn't know that she carried "that freak Myers's" child until she was well into her second trimester and ordered to avoid Shane. His healing ability prompted Triptych to make an exception to their policy of anonymity. A single touch would inform Shane that Addison was pregnant with their son.
In typical Triptych fashion Addison used the knowledge to her advantage, lording it over Shane. His shock at the news was no surprise. Their overwhelming mutual attraction was. But how can they raise a child when they can't trust each other?
Jake and his half-sister Ashlynn challenge their powerful but self-absorbed parents to look beyond their own interests. With their help Shane and Addison learn that blood is thicker than even Triptych’s murky waters.
Let SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED know up front that this is a Query and not the first 13, which will probably keep you from being edited down.
IMHO, this doesn't work for a query hook. There is too much summary and possibly the wrong meat.
So I I understand it right from the two versions, essentially, there are two employees that the company wants to breed. The employees end up in bed together and conceive a child (JAke??). The female is dumb enough not to know she's pregnant until she's "well into her second trimester." Jake is the result of the breeding. Ashlynn is the child of Addision? Years later (because Jake is old enough to plot), Jake and Ashlynn try to get Jake's parents together. Right?
It sounds like everything before the last paragraph is back history. When does the story take place or does it jump say 20 years. Right now it sounds like either two stories or that the story doesn't "start" until the last paragraph of the query. Either way, not a good impression to leave.
Yes it's sort of like a movie trailer but only of the best 3 or 4 miniscenes.
You need to answer these questions, in less than 25 words each, with the Query:
Who is the protaganist? What dilemma does s/he face? How does it get resolved?
[quote]So I I understand it right from the two versions, essentially, there are two employees that the company wants to breed. The employees end up in bed together and conceive a child (JAke??). The female is dumb enough not to know she's pregnant until she's "well into her second trimester."
She knows she's pregnant. I don't buy any woman not knowing she's pregnant. She just didn't know who the father was. This is a high tech world - we're talking petri dishes and invitro.
quote:Jake is the result of the breeding. Ashlynn is the child of Addision? Years later (because Jake is old enough to plot), Jake and Ashlynn try to get Jake's parents together. Right?
Yes. Ashlynn is Addison's other child.
quote:When does the story take place or does it jump say 20 years.
The story starts with the pregnancy and proceeds forward from that point. It doesn't jump 20 years, but it skips a year here and a year there, which is done transitionally and within chapters.
quote:You need to answer these questions, in less than 25 words each, with the Query:
Who is the protaganist? What dilemma does s/he face? How does it get resolved?
It's not a query, though. It's a hook. I've been told/read that it's not supposed to reveal all the details, especially the resolution.
Fangs and Furs went over the submission limits at 7 am. today.
Okay . . .
The "Hook" they were talking about is the same thing you need for your query letter. Look at the references to the CRAPOMETER, and Agent X's "Got Hook." They all were talking about Query letter hooks which are different than synopsis. Look at thier feedback on the hooks they received. Also, look at Evil Editor's blog on what he does with Hooks - called "Face Lifts" on his blog.
Your "Hook" is a synopsis. Even then you need to tell the agent the resolution or at least, what is going to be resolved.
Why isn't it a futuristic version of The Parent Trap?
What's your hook in 20 words or less? a) The fact that Jake was engineered? b) Or the plotting to get his parents together? c) OR something completely different?
Who is the MC?
Why does Addison want to get pregnant? For the perks? Tell me about it. Oh, BTW - not realizing your are pregnant for a bit (say 8 weeks) is not uncommon especially with a first pregnancy, it was being nearly into the third trimester that tripped me up. From your comment, clarity is needed that she didn't know that Shane was the father until then. Your first version made it sound like they conceived Jake in a more traditional, less scientific manner.
Maybe something like:
Addison Harris is a top psychic at the Triptych Corporation. The company's questionable ethics don't bother her since she was virtually raised by Triptych. But Triptych's creature comforts come at a cost, and Addison must mate with an evil robot monkey if she's going to get that wide screen TV .
Six months into the pregnancy, Addison overhears a chance comment that she's carrying "that freak Myers's" child. Shane Myers, a human-alien hybrid and geneticist, who uses his healiing ability as a weapon by reincarnating evil robot monkeys as zombies, hates Addison because she's the one person who can silence his talents. But somehow they must raise the child, Jake, together. Why???
Years later , Jake and Ashlynn, Addison's child from a prior evil monkey mating challenge how? Jake's powerful but self-absorbed parents to look beyond their own interests. What do they want Addison and Shane to do? With their help Shane and Addison learn that blood is thicker than even Triptych’s murky waters.
Once you take out the italics (ie my questions) it's only 151 words. You'll have room to add your real plot rather than my bold.
Even then, I still don't get a sense of the main story conflict. Agent X says, in effect, the problem she sees with 90% of the hooks is that there is no conflict in them. Without the conflict, there is no story. What is your conflict? Is it Addison/Shane's dislike of each other? Is it the Company's machinations? What? Some sense of the antagonist - be it a person, idea or event - would help add depth and hooky -ness to it.
It helps to explain some of the reasons why so the actions are clear and plausible rather than "because it has to happen this way or I have no story" sounding. That issue is one of the reason my Hook's gone through such major rewriting. It's as much about knowing what details need to be in the Hook as out of it.
quote: In typical Triptych fashion Addison used the knowledge to her advantage, lording it over Shane. His shock at the news was no surprise. Their overwhelming mutual attraction was. But how can they raise a child when they can't trust each other?
I didn't understand what you were trying for here. I'm also not sure it matters to your hook.
[This message has been edited by kings_falcon (edited April 13, 2007).]
quote:Katherine, I didn't see anywhere to post hooks, only the first 13 lines. I saw that a lot of people put Query: in their topic when it's a query, so I thought that "Hook" would suffice here. Is there a place to post things like hooks and synopsis for critique. Can I repost the entire hook? This is not the first 13 lines, as defined above, but the back cover blurb?
Please call me Kathleen (or KDW or She Who Must Be Obeyed)? There is someone else out there named Katherine Woodbury who has also been published in science fiction and fantasy, and she is not I.
In answer to your question, I read over what you posted and could not tell if you intended it as your first 13 lines or not.
quote:It helps to let people know what kind of feedback you are looking for.
Do you just want to know if they would want to keep reading? Do you want volunteers to read the rest (if, of course, they would want to keep reading)?
Do you want brainstorming help on how to finish a fragment (you have to ask specific questions after giving a short outline of the story to get this kind of help)?
Do you want them to just tell you, or to show you with examples, what changes they think you might want to make in your first 13 lines?
Do you want them to share with you their thoughts (including the questions they had) as they read the 13 lines? Remember, questions in a critique are not asking for you to answer or explain to the critiquer, they are telling you what you need to clarify in the story.
Do you want help with grammar, spelling, punctuation (nit-picky stuff) or do you want help with characterization, description, point-of-view, structure (more over-all kinds of things)?
It helps to let people know what kind of help you are looking for. Then you won't be frustrated by the kind of help they try to give you, and they won't be frustrated by finding out that they spent a lot of time giving you the kind of help you didn't really want.
[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited April 13, 2007).]
I put that information in the blurb under this area's heading/link
quote:Need volunteers to look at your novel? This is the place to ask for them. Start a topic and give it the title of your novel. Give the genre (SF, fantasy, mystery, whatever), tell us how many words you have written so far, and whether you just want feedback on your first 13 lines and/or a summary of your novel, or whether you want volunteers to read a partial (the first 20 pages and an outline of the rest). Then post the first 13 lines of your novel and/or a short summary (think of it as what you'd put in a query letter). Please do not post more than the first 13 lines or a short summary of your work in any topic here at Hatrack. This also a good place to post your planned query letters for feedback.
and it should also go in the "Making use of the Fragments and Feedback area" topic.
quote:The Fragments and Feedback for Novels area is also a good place to post your planned query letters for feedback. Just make certain that we know it's a query (which has no 13-line limit) and not actual text from your novel.
to the post mentioning the Fragments and Feedback for Novels area.
Thank you for helping me know that I needed to put that information in more than one place.
"She knew she was pregnant, she just didnt know who the father was. I don't buy any woman not knowing she is pregnant. She just didn't know who the father was. This is a high tech world -we're talking petri dishes and invitro."
So she was having sex with multiple petri dishes and/or having indiscriminate invitro fertilizations?
I don't get this, records are kept in such procedures. I have a hard time believing a father could be "lost" in such a circumstance.
[This message has been edited by nitewriter (edited April 13, 2007).]