Nine years have passed since the undead grey men ended civilization, and now all that remains are small bands of survivors huddling in isolated towns. Darrell Williams is living with his daughter in an abandoned factory near the ruins of Alden Ridge. His companions have turned the factory into something of a fortress—but when the town starts to experience an unexpected transformation, Darrell is forced to leave his daughter and stray from the factory’s shelter. He finds the landscape literally twisted as it is consumed by a dark force that also makes the grey men increasingly aggressive. For Darrell to have any hope of saving his daughter and the others, he must unearth the truth about what is happening to Alden Ridge . . . but his discoveries will lead him to the most difficult decision of his life.
Hopefully this is a lot more vivid, but do your worst.
undead grey men - be more specific
ended civilization - how, more info
unexpected transformation - need more
grey men - second mentioning, still don't know who or what they are
Sentence construction: For Darrell to have any hope ... he must... It doesn't work.
Could be a good hook, keep going
This hook is only 140 words long, and is strained from the effort of keeping it concise. That is, concise has become more important than revealing. Miss Snark allows 250 words, and I think you should expand to at least that.
Who are the undead grey men? How and why did they end civilization? A few words would suffice: "...ended civilization in retaliation for..."
What unexpected transformation?
Why must Darrell leave? (Is "Darrell" the best possible name for your protagonist?)
What "twists" the landscape? (Kill the word "literally.")
What is the dark force? How does it increase aggression? Since this latter question seems to govern the climax, it must be answered satisfactorily.
I've been reading your comments in various blogs about town, and your writing is every bit as good as you need it to be. I wouldn't bother to comment if I didn't think you had a bright future. Your hook is just too damn concise. I agree with the previous commenter; keep going.
I like the comments the others have made, though I do think the blurb got better when it got shorter. I like that better, personally.
I don't know if this is my personal style speaking or if it would make it better, but if you changed "huddling" to "huddled". Try that on.
Thanks for the comments. I'm not sure I see the problem with the sentence construction "For Darrell to have any hope ... he must...", but I'll wait a bit and look at it with fresh eyes to see if I can see it.
For the other things, I'll definitely try to explain those better in my next version.
Thanks for the encouragement and the detailed comments (and the kind words at Nathan Bransford's blog). I think you make a lot of excellent points.
The "unexpected transformation" is actually referring to the twisting of the landscape and the grey men becoming more aggressive. That's more a wording problem than anything else. I'll see what I can do about that.
I do however like the name Darrell, because it is descriptive of his background and upbringing (though that character has since raised himself above his humble roots to become a well-educated doctor). It's also a name that is appropriate to the area he is from. Rest assured, I put a lot of thought into every name I use in my writing. Surely no one is too put off by that name alone.
My problems with revealing exactly what the dark force is are 1) it's awkward to explain in a sentence or two, and 2) it's one of the primary twists of the book, and it doesn't get revealed until fairly far in. Not that I have any reservations about telling an agent anything and everything about the end of my book before they read it, but from what I've read about hooks the general consensus seems to be that they should be more about set up and intrigue rather than giving all the answers and telling the end of the book. I'll have to think about this a bit more; I agree with you that something more needs to be offered here, but I want to do it in such a way that I don't give away the farm in what is after all supposed to be a teaser of sorts.
Again, I really do appreciate all the feedback and support, and thanks for stopping by the blog. I stopped by your site as well, and FROM WHENCE THE RIVERS COME definitely looks intriguing.
I appreciate your taking time to make yet more comments. :) I'll definitely try to keep it as short as I can while still filling in the holes that the others have identified. It's all a big balancing act, I guess.
I looked at the "huddling" versus "huddled," and personally I have to say I prefer "huddling" for my own writing. For whatever reason, "huddled" in that usage just strikes me as a Britishism--or at any rate, not a construction that I would normally use.
Chris: :-) Like you had to doubt me. C (totally kidding)
As far as this version goes, it is getting better (IMO). You've included more detail to build tension. As others have written, I too wonder who these undead guys are and have some difficulty with the twisted adjective. Has the landscape actually morphed because of something the undead did? Or is it twisted in some other way? Since a number have commented on this, it might be good to re-examine. However, I think it's getting better and if you add in a few things from your 2 para version, I think you'll have it nailed. Best of luck! C
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