Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Writing a Hook that Hooks

I told you in a previous post that I posted my Hook on the Bookends site for critique. Well today Jessica finally got to mine. This is the forth or fifth draft of the hook I have written, and I felt pretty good about it. See what she had to say:

92. D. Robert Pease
Fantasy Novel: Crimson Swarm

Aberthuil Nauile doesn’t know that he once led legions in a war that raged since the dawn of time, against an enemy that cannot be killed. He doesn’t know that he rode on a dragon with his father, and saw his mother die while giving birth to him. He doesn’t know that he once saved his great, great, great grandfather by defeating the black enemy on the slopes of a volcano. Aberthuil doesn’t know that he beheld the creation of the world, as his grandfather eight generations before took the planet ravaged by a war of the gods and began anew. All he knows is that he awoke in a coffin in a tomb, and now the whole world thinks he is their savior. All he really wants to know is his name, and why he keeps hearing voices in his head.

Wow! Am I getting soft or is this really two good pitches in a row? Of course now I’m concerned that my judgment is skewed. Maybe I am getting soft. But no, this is good. This grabs my interest. While normally I might say a pitch like this is backstory, it’s not when it’s world building. I clearly see who Aberthuil is and what his conflict is. While he's sure it might be the voices in his head, his true conflict is the story of the life he doesn’t remember. Very, very cool.


First of all, notice that this is pitch # 92. This lady has been very, very busy. And unlike Miss Snark before her, I hope that she can keep her sanity, and I appreciate very much all the work she is putting into these. It makes me feel quite good that she liked the pitch, just the boost I needed right now to keep plugging along with the editing. She does make a great point that I focus primarily on backstory, but it seems I did it in such a way that it still gives insight into what the novel will be about.

Now before I get all warm and fuzzy about my writing, I want to show you how I came to write the pitch this way. Back in October, Kristin Nelson began a series on her blog about how to write a good pitch. Her first post on the subject dissected the jacket cover copy for Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. If you read the cover copy, you will see that what I wrote is very similar. The tone feels the same. The overall pacing is the same. Obviously they are two different books. I didn't plagiarize the copy, I just used something that worked well somewhere else as a template for my pitch, and apparently it worked. Jessica has said that if she posted that she liked a pitch, she would love to see more. I'm not ready to send her more yet, but isn't that the goal of the pitch? To get an agent to want to see more? In that respect, I am very excited.


S.M.D. said...

Just thought I'd say something about the pitch.
If you put a decent cover on it and I picked it up in a store and read that, I'd be sold instantly. That sounds like a really awesome premise and I really want to read it now...

D. Robert Pease said...

Thanks S.M.D. I'd love to read it now too. :-) If only I was finished. Getting closer, but not quite there yet.

Anissa said...

Great job on the pitch! I read it on BookEnds and found my way over. I hope Jessica's words do give you that final push you need. Such great things to look forward to.

Aimless Writer said...

I loved your pitch on Bookends. I don't read alot of fantasy books but your's would definately make my list. I think I love your main character already. You gave just enough backstory and then reeled me in with the fact he doesn't remember his name and those voices inside his head.
Nice job! Now go finish so we can read it!

Stuart said...

Congrats on the feedback! That's awesome. I did that on Rachel Vater site last year and got some great feedback too. Unlike you, I'm further away from having it ready to send...

Hopefully, we can get your manuscript run through the crit group faster. :) Speking of which, where's your next chapter?