Friday, September 30, 2011

Hooked on Hooks

Believe it or not, I am still alive. I got really busy there for a while, and then by the time I had time to post again, I was so far behind in Bloggy Land that it was overwhelming to even think about getting back into it. So instead, lately I've been using my free time to get through my huge and hopefully final (and pretty treacherous) revisions, for both my books.

I'm finally done with one (hallelujah!), and now I'm into my second. And it's been really grueling actually (rewriting them in third person, among many other things). But it's been worth it. I'm so glad I've stuck with it, because it's made my Work In Progress(s) so much stronger.

So speaking of WIPs, I'm participating in Kimberly Zook's prompt, Hooked on Hooks, where we are to post the hook of our WIP (the first 3-4 sentences of the work itself) in order to get feedback. So here's the hook of my most recent WIP (The Exception). Please comment and leave your thoughts/criticism!

My Hook:
Samuel Tercy froze at the shrill scream, the aged walls of the house doing nothing to mute it.  It didn’t matter how many times he’d heard it; nothing could ever prepare him for the way it ripped him apart inside.  From his place in the oak tree’s underbrush, his muscles tensed and the never-ending battle waged inside him: run inside and save the girl, or listen from the shadows undetected?  Technically, he didn’t exist, so up until now, listening from the shadows had always triumphed over being her hero. 


Angela Brown said...

I had to read it a couple of times however, the mystery imbued in this hooked me and made me want to read further.

If there is any criticism to offer - for the sake of hopefully improving the reading experience - it would be to consider cutting the longer sentences and adding stronger verbs. Example: Samuel Tercy froze at the shrill scream. The aged walls of the old house did nothing to mute it. No matter how many times he'd heard it, nothing prepared him for the way it ripped him apart inside. Hidden by the oak tree's underbrush, his muscles tensed. The never-ending battle waged inside him: blah, blah.

The suggestion for shortening the sentences is offered to provide the emphasis to those power points like her scream, the tensing of his muscles.

So very, very emotional.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Makes me shiver. And a mystery, too!

I agree with Angela about the shorter sentences. You'll find it builds more tension. I know how hard this is. I always want to write long sentences.

I want to know why she's screaming, and why he couldn't help her "before." And why he CAN, perhaps, help her now.

Good hook!

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I like it. It definitely hooked me and I want to read more. The only suggestion I have is, I guess, a little like what the others have said. I would tighten it a little because it feels like it takes a little too long to get to the part about how he doesn't technically exist and that's the biggest hook of all! I think Angela's suggestions about the shorter sentences works very well, and if you could condense "From his place....over being her hero" into about 1/2 it's length I think it would be even more effective.

Becky said...

Glad to see you back!

And love your WIP.

Jen said...

Yay!! You're back!! I've missed you. Great hook, too :)

K said...

This really has me wanting to read more! Is there more you can share with us, because I am not going to stop wondering about who the girl is, why the boy technically doesn't exist and why the girl screams so often that the boy has heard it before but still he can't be prepared for it! Very fascinating ideas presented here :) Great job!

In terms of hooking the reader with ideas I think you've done an awesome job, but I did get a bit hung up in the sentence structure. I had to read it through a couple of times to get all of the details. I think the readers who have already commented have great advice to use shorter sentences for such an intense scene! Then it will read a bit easier. So great job!!!

Michelle @ Oh! For the Love of Books said...

I envision a desperate scream in my head when I read your hook. I want to know how often the scream happens?!

Anonymous said...

Overall, I really liked it. It's got an interesting character, a mysterious setting, and you've managed to set a lot of questions in our heads. :)
If I may make some remarks about the details: I didn't like the first sentence. I can imagine something more personal, less general, something like:
"That shrill scream ripping him apart again. The aged walls of the house did nothing to dim it."
The words "shadows" and "inside" were repeared too close to each other (but it maybe just me, sorry) and I think some tweaking can make your sentences even stronger and the paragraph shorter. E.g. "Hiding in the oak tree's underbrush, his tense muscles mirrored the battle inside"
I loved the part: "technically, he didn't exist", excellent way to finish the first paragraph! Talk about being hooked! :)

Gail Shepherd said...

I agree with other commenters who are suggesting you play with sentence structure a bit. Your idea here is great, there's tons of mystery. And your "hero" is already complicated, since he's being less than heroic by deciding not to run in and save this poor girl. Lots of potential here. Good work.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the other commenters about the shorter sentences but even without them, the idea of him not technically existing would hook me.


Congrats on finishing your book!! I know what a tremendous accomplishment that is, as I've been working my whole life to finish mine!

Love your hook. You "hooked" me right away and the last line made me want more. He doesn't exist?!! What does that mean? I want to know more!

Emilia Quill said...

Samuel's heard the screaming before. That raises a lot of questions, is the person screaming the same all the time and why hasn't he acted earlier? Why is he considering it now?

Doesn't technically exist, is a ghost or imaginary? I want to know. It also gives the sense that there's something otherworldly going on.

Deirdra said...

You have a fabulous blog! I’m an author and illustrator and I made some awards to give to fellow bloggers whose sites I enjoy. I want to award you with one of my homemade awards: The Beautiful Mommy Writer Blog. There are no pass along requirements. This is just to reward you for all the hard work you do!

Go to and pick up your award.

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