Option 1 (focus on powers):
Option 2 (focus on intrigue):
Sean Sunderland grew up thinking that his greatest gift was simply to become a guardian magi who could protect corporations from magical intrusion and the specters that roam the Otherworld. But when the demons try to capture him after his college graduation, Sean discovers that he is one of the last Thaumaturges--powerful magi who can work magic without the runes and amulets that are normally required. Sean's magic is virtually unlimited, bounded only by what he can comprehend in sufficient detail. The problem is, though Sean can already create 300 meter fireballs and slow time, he has very little control over his magic. His magic seems to make him invincible, but the reflexive nature of it also makes him dangerous to everyone around him.
Though he hides his abilities from his family and most of his coworkers, there are ancient creatures who are not willing to let him ignore his abilities. The Eldest Dragon wants Sean to unseat the lord of the demons, the demons demand that Sean join their ranks or die, and a ten thousand year old vampire needs Sean's help to save his descendants from an evil phantasm. Sean knows he will ultimately have to face the demons--but what he doesn't realize is just how terrible their power is, for they are Thaumaturges also, and much more practiced. They kill him and turn him into one of them. Somehow, even as a demon, Sean will have to master his powers well enough to protect himself and those he cares about from not only the other demons, but also the darkness within himself.
At age twenty-four, with a college degree under his belt and a good job as a guardian magi for a small company, Sean Sunderland feels like he has a pretty good handle on his life. What he never suspected was how much of his life was based on lies. The Otherworld in which he works is actually just one small part of an ancient world that few suspect exist, and a race of demons want Sean for their own because of magical powers he doesn't even know he has. Even Sean's parents seem to be hiding something--his connection to the Otherworld may be stronger than he knows.
It isn't until the demons try to capture Sean that he becomes aware that his world isn't what he thought. As Sean is pulled ever more into a struggle as old as humanity itself, it becomes increasingly clear that the life he had struggled for years to build is lost. Even his newfound powers aren't enough to resist the demons--it isn't long before they kill him and turn him into one of them. Despairing at his undeath and desperate to escape the demon civilization in which he is now held captive, Sean must hold fast to his human identity if he ever hopes to escape and save those who still matter most to him.
For those of you who wish to read these hooks, please let me know what you honestly think of them. It would also be useful to me to know which parts catch your eye, if anything does. And also the reverse: what seems prosaic or cliche? I might do a third hook sometime soon, if these don't seem strong enough. For those of you who wish to have nothing spoiled, I'd suggest staying out of the comments section for this particular post, too.
Ok, I only read the first paragraph of each... but #2 works the best for me. (Duh, you should be able to guess I'd say intrigue over power.)
It makes the conflict sound stronger and more mature. Sorry, the focus on power element doesn't work so much for me because I like stories about people who have to earn their power.
Yeah, that makes sense that #2 would be your preference. I think it makes Sean more sympathetic, as well as what you pointed out. Trouble is, I feel like perhaps my second paragraph is stronger in #1 (not that I'm asking you to read them right now—major, major spoilers there). Maybe I'll do some sort of hybrid hook that incorporates the best of both hooks later on.
Oh, and as a side note--though it may not have come across in my hooks, Sean DOES have to earn his power. Just not in the usual way, and I took a nonstandard stance on how powerful everybody is in general. There are too many fantasy books where the powerful wizards aren't really all THAT powerful, and I wanted to do something different from that. So, Sean starts out relatively overpowered, yeah, but there are problems with that in itself, and everything is relative....
Oh, and I didn't say it before: thanks so much for the feedback!
Thanks for the feedback!
I'm with Chandra. Read all of each and I still prefer the second one. The reason being it's more efficiently written. The first one puts more information out there, but it sounds like you're struggling with it. It almost sounds clumsy and your writing (what I've seen of it on your blog) is not normally clumsy.
If you could figure out how to edit it down somehow whilst still saying what you want it to say, then go with the first one. But you sound more efficient and confident with the second one right now.
Am I making sense?
Thanks for the feedback. That does indeed make sense. I can see why you would say it was more efficiently written. You mentioned making changes to the first to make it more efficient--is that the one that you think you would prefer if I was to make that change, or was that comment just because you think I like the first better?
I agree with you that trying a combination of the two is the best way forward (imho)... That's not just the Brit chick 'sitting on the fence' :) I do actually reckon there's good and bad in both hooks.
No. 1 has a much better second paragraph, although you could definitely drop the 'spoiler' element of it and just end it on a Big Question. Is it necessary to answer that question in a hook? I don't think you need to give that away, even when querying agents: it's like you're giving away the whole story and, once again, edging towards mini-synopsis territory.
No. 2 opens more strongly, to my mind, and makes Sean seem human and more easy to relate to. I like the 'hook' that his life might have been based on lies up to this point... That would keep me reading to find out what the truth was!
So in summary (sorry this went on for so long) - first part of hook #2 with second part of hook #1. Are you up for giving it a try?! :)
Thank you for the wonderful comments and suggestions. The comments from everyone have been very helpful, but I think you've tied it together nicely. That makes a lot of sense. I'm going to work on a revised, major-spoiler-free version using your suggestions.
Don't worry about going on too long--I'm the king of that. ;) I'm always happy to receive more information rather than less.
I will say that I had felt the Big Spoiler was a necessary thing to include, because that is what is most original and what professional readers seem to have responded to most. However, you pointed out on a previous post that the hook is only supposed to entice the reader to read more, and I think that's a very good point. They'll find out the Big Spoiler from my synopsis, anyway, and I think that is fine. If the start of my book can't hold their attention well enough to get to that larger payoff, then, well, I'm not doing things right anyway.
Thoughts on Big Spoilers:
If they're in your hook, there's no need to read the synopsis.
The goal of your query is to make the agent want to read more, ne?
Think of your hook as the back cover blurb. You want to entice readers without spoiling things.
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