Monday, April 23, 2007

My Hook is Posted

In the Fangs, Fur, & Fey contest, my hook was #129. I didn't make it to the pages round, but the judge did have some good comments:
Sounds like a nice creepy post-apoc tale, and the writing seems smooth. I
do indeed want to know why the gray men rose and the modern world fell.
Unfortunately this is more a recitation of plot events (they go downriver, they
find other survivors, there's an expedition that ends in disaster, etc.) than a
sense of what the story is actually about. It feels like you're standing too
close to the forest so all you can point out are trees-- you need to stand back
and give us a better sense of the shape of the forest itself, the overarching
scope, the throughline, of the story. If Darrell and Elaine need to save Alden
Ridge from Stantonsburg's fate (which was what, exactly? 'overrun' vague.
Details would be good here), and they need to discover the secrets behind why
their world is the way it is, then that should form the focus and body of your
hook -- right or wrong, that's the sense of story I'm getting here, because it's
the last sentence of your hook that engages and intrigues me. The rest feels
like lead-up. Also, give us some sense of characterization, who Darrell and
Elaine are. Right now they're just names. And I'm assuming Darrell is the

Also, how and why did this woman Elaine 'coerce' him into what seems a
rescue mission? If she's forcing him to do something he doesn't want to do, that
doesn't really seem like a promising start to a relationship--and Darrell
doesn't seem particularly heroic. Which is fine if that's how he starts out the
story – caring only for himself and his kid -- but he needs to change and grow
through the story, and the reader needs a better sense of how he does that.

Some potential here, but not ready yet. Pass.

So, looks like I'm getting better at hook writing, but I'm still not as good as I would like. On the bright side, I think my sample pages are so vastly much stronger that they alone will be a big aid in convincing agents that they want to request a partial when I start submitting ALDEN RIDGE. I'll have to keep working on my hook, too, of course, but fortunately I've started early and can go through a number of drafts if I have to. Hmm. It's a lot easier to recognize what's good and what's not in other people's hooks than it is to craft one of my own. But I feel like I'm getting better, and that's all anyone can really do--keep getting better.


Anonymous said...

Well, it *is* a shame you didn't progress to the pages round, especially as your opening pages are so strong, but at least you're learning LOTS from all of this. Which, as you say, is definitely the best thing! I saw your hook up there before you posted on it, and I have to say I think you did a pretty good job! Great feedback from the judge, too, so well done.

Rachel V. Olivier said...

Sounds like you're learning a ton, but too bad it didn't happen this time. I hope they do this again.

Christopher M. Park said...

Thanks for the support, both of you! With a contest like this, the real reward is definitely the learning. If they had just said they loved the hook and passed me to the pages round, I would have learned a lot less. Heck, if I had just gotten THE GUARDIAN published without all the trouble I've been through, I would have been a much weaker writer. At some point (hopefully soon) all of this will just fall into place and I'll get something in print, right? :) Ah well, at least I'm enjoying the writing again. Thanks so much for checking in and offering your support!

Colleen said...

I didn't participate in FFF as they weren't accepting my type of writing however I had a bit of a peak at what was posted there. If you have a look at the comments for the other hooks, you can see that you've already done very well. Not that you want to compare, but it's nice to know that in a crowd, you can hold your own. Congrats!

Christopher M. Park said...

Thank you, Colleen! That is indeed reassuring; I had not thought of it that way before. :)