Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hook Victorine #7

Here is the first 400 words from Dead Forever: Awakening by William Campbell.

WE REMIND: Events depicted in this record occurred during the use of language systems other than English. In consideration of the reader, all representations of character thought and speech have been translated to the nearest English equivalent in use at the time of transcription.

Fun beginning! I do like how we jump right into this strange world with this simple notice. Nice way to get the reader’s attention.


Blackness, crashing, every touch is a searing impact. Extreme motion without purpose or destination—chaos. Up and down have become mere concepts in this nightmare of heat and confusion.

Interesting... I’m not sure what’s going on but I’m intrigued by this. As long as it’s not a dream. Please, don’t start your book with a dream. Waaaaay too many people do it. Literary agents blog about it all the time... don’t start with a dream or someone waking up. Alright, off my soapbox now.

A flickering glow bleeds from the void—flames.

I’m still confused by this, but it’s okay because I want to know more. If I don’t get grounded in a scene pretty quickly though, I’ll get bored and move on.

“Put it out,” a woman shouts.

Yes, thank you, I hope we’re going to get grounded in a scene now.

My skin is burning. Snapped alert by a blistering surface, I spring up only to tumble over and smack the floor. Or was it the ceiling? The two have traded places, and again, flipping end over end.

Boy this sure reads like a dream. I suspect it is. The funny thing is several of the previous authors confessed to me that their beginnings were dreams too. I don’t want to say that you’re totally sunk if you start with a dream, just be aware of what is out there. (And what is out there are a lot of books starting with dreams. A lot.)

From thick smoke, flames snap out like whips, steel panels glisten white-hot, creak and moan, melting conduits dangle and sway. The upending eases but the compartment is spiraling—we’re falling. A warm flow trickles down my forehead, into my eyes. I reach for my scalp and the wet mess leaves my fingertips bloody. Something hard and I became far more intimate than we should have.

Ha ha ha, funny. I actually have a line in my book that is quite similar to this last one. I guess great minds think alike.

Someone darts through the smoke. Then back again, and she stops to look at me.

“Put it out.”

Since the main character keeps mentioning heat, I’m assuming the “put it out” is about a fire. I’m getting glimpses of what is going on, and despite the fact that many books begin with dreams, I will admit this one is well written. The reader gets the feeling of a dream, and I can’t find any nit picky things about the writing.

She is strangely familiar. Rusty hair in a high ponytail, determined stare, her cheeks are heated rosy. A woman of such beauty she may be a goddess, casting a disapproving glare as if provoked and contemplating wrath if I don’t get up and . . . do what?

I like this description of her.

Dread strikes. Something bad is going to happen, and worse—it happens to her.

There’s a change in tense here that I might reword. I might say: Something bad is going to happen, and worse—it will happen to her.

“Hurry!” she cries.

The fire. I came here to put out a fire. An extinguisher is here somewhere. In a cabinet, but the door won’t budge. The hinges are melted, the handle is hot, now my palms are charred.

Failure obscures all fear. I don’t know which is worse—the fear, the failure, the dread—or knowing that I’m completely useless.

Towering flames rise at her back. She rushes to reach me, her arms outstretched. The goddess is drained of wrath, stricken by sorrow, streaming tears and hollow. Her hopeless stare won’t let go, yearning for a last embrace, and testament to our fate—there is no tomorrow.

Again, this is well written. I am interested in what will happen after the main character wakes up.

“We won’t survive,” she says. “Don’t get lost. Remember, I’ll find you. I’ll find you!”

I can’t tell if she’s mad here, and is saying she’ll find him to harm him, or if she is saying this out of love. I’m guessing she isn’t mad, but I can’t quite tell.

Rapt by her mesmerizing gaze, I am spellbound, the threat of incineration a distant concern. Her eyes—so clear, so light, so blue.

Tender blue eyes, that may never forgive me.

I’m wondering if this is a dream about the future, or the past. I admit I would read on, even though I’ll keep telling authors to not start with a dream. Not that you can’t get published with a book that opens with a dream. A very popular series opens with a dream in the second book. I was surprised by this. And I don’t want to say anything bad about the book because I did enjoy it. I’ve just seen dream openings so much that I tend to get put off by them.

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