Thursday, April 12, 2007

Alden Ridge Hook, and Fangs, Fur, & Fey Contest

Never pass up an opportunity for good feedback. To that end, I note that there is a contest going on at Fangs, Fur, & Fey. Hopefully you've all seen this contest before now, especially if you're an urban fantasy writer. But the contest is open to writers of fantasy, sci-fi, thriller, and other genres, so you might be able to participate even if you don't write urban fantasy. They will be accepting up to 180 hooks, which will be public posted and reviewed by a panel of judges. The best 12 will get to submit the first 5 pages of their work, and those will also be publicly posted and reviewed. The winner gets to have their first 50 pages or first 3 chapters critiqued by literary agent Rachel Vater. That's a great prize, but just being part of the contest itself, and having your hook reviewed, would be wonderful.

So, I've been working on a hook for ALDEN RIDGE, which I'm presently billing as supernatural thriller. Obviously ALDEN RIDGE isn't finished yet, but that isn't a condition of the contest. Since this book is my primary focus right now, this is the one that I'm going to submit to the contest. It opens tonight at 12 AM, and that's when I intend to make my submission. Here's my hook (which has no more spoilers than the back of a book):

The year is 2018, and it has been nearly a decade since civilization ended at the hands of the undead grey men. All that remains of our world are small bands of survivors huddling in isolated towns. Darrell Williams has been living with his four year-old daughter Lela in Stantonsburg, but after years of attacks their town is finally overrun. Those two alone escape to Alden Ridge, a neighboring town with fully thirty survivors. There the situation has not yet become dire—but everything starts to change when Darrell and Lela arrive.

Elaine Levine Ward has been living with her boyfriend Jeff in an abandoned factory just outside Alden Ridge ever since That Day. When Darrell arrives, it has been nearly a full day since Jeff left to scavenge sulfur from an abandoned farm. Elaine reluctantly gives Darrell and Lela shelter on the condition that Darrell will help rescue Jeff—but the rescue ends in disaster, and Elaine and Darrell barely escape the farm with their own lives. After nine years of constancy, the grey men are suddenly becoming more violent and aggressive, and frighteningly persistent. Soon other dark creatures—some of them human—begin creeping into town, and there are more deaths. Darrell and Elaine’s only hope of saving Alden Ridge from Stantonsburg’s fate is to somehow discover the secrets behind the rise of the grey men, and the fall of the modern world.

What do you think? Suggestions would be appreciated, and I'd be more than happy to look at the hooks of others, too.


Annalisa said...

I think this hook is very strong! I haven't studied hooks as extensively as you have, but I can say how it affects me as a reader. Generally speaking, it gives me a very clear picture of what the book is about without loading me down with an excess of plot points.

At the same time, I like how it tells where the characters are at the beginning (the situation is not yet dire) and then what they have to do (discover what's going on with the grey men and how they essentially destroyed the modern world--and, we assume, set the world aright again). We know what kind of quest/goal/conflict the characters will have and what kind of story it is.

As for how it's written, I think this hook moves at just the right pace. It's brisk, without giving you the feeling of whiplash. The word choices are all great, except I might quibble with "constancy" (it just doesn't feel right to me).

Sorry I don't have more constructive criticism, but I really think you nailed it.

Christopher M. Park said...

Thanks for the comments and feedback! I'm very glad that you liked the pacing and word choice and degree of information revelation. I'm getting ready to post a new version of the hook, which has all of those elements intact, but which I think has slightly tighter pacing and says all the same things while being shorter and having slightly more descriptive imagery. I'll be very interested to see what you think of that one versus this one, if you care to wager an opinion.

Thanks again!