Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mini Are You Hooked #11

TITLE: The Quest
GENRE: Adult Fantasy

Luke leaned back in his chair and gazed around the office in the back of the store, crowded with books. As usual, the store was empty. The store carried a handful of the current best-sellers to sell to the few tourists who somehow got lost on their way to somewhere bigger and more important and who happened to see a bookstore and think, "Maybe I should stop and find something to read," and he had a few regular customers who he found for and sold to rare and collectible books. However, the store was really a front for his other job. His real job. The job that kept him up at night pacing the floors in his lonely house.

He looked out the window of the office that faced the houses of those who lived in Kinston. The front of the store faced Main Street, although Luke never really understood why it was called that when it was the only public street in town. The street didn't even have a traffic light.

The phone rang and broke his waking reverie. "Matthews and Sons Books," he answered receiving a chuckle for the other end.

"Do you ever think that you'll change the name?" his sister, Emma, said. Luke smiled and closed his eyes as he thought about his vibrant sister. She was the only light in his life, and he missed her so much his heart ached.


  1. The opening paragraph kills this for me. It's too wordy. I think your instinct for giving us a slow picture of the place is right as a lead in to the whole thing being an front, though.

    You could edit fiercely, or you could slow it down and give each element and idea a little more space. Don't jam too much into a single long sentence. Give us a sense of the feel and smell of the place, not just the idea of it.

    When I skip that first paragraph, though I am interested.

  2. I think you could start with your third paragraph. Because from there, I was getting hooked.

  3. It's a great setting (what writer doesn't love a bookstore?!), but this is overwritten. You have "the store" in each of the first 3 sentences, for example, and then again in the penultimate sentence. This gives the paragraph a redundant feel.

    I think less backstory is key here. Begin, perhaps, with the phone call from his sister. And save the little tidbit about the store being a "front" for his real job for a little later. It felt contrived. I felt myself thinking, "Oh no! I don't know want to know this yet! Tantalize me!"

  4. I'm not hooked.

    I feel like the opening para is just way too long, and not even necessary. I want to feel a sense of conflict, and I'm just not getting one here.

    All I know right now is that he missed his sister... that isn't enough to make me read a book.

    Also, watch your adjectives (vibrant sister) they don't tell me what I need to know and kind of make me feel like an outsider in this story.

    Instead, look further in your book and see if you can find the voice. (Usually, when we first start a story, we haven't figured out the tone of it yet) and try to apply that to these opening paragraphs.

    Also, watch word repeats (store). I think you could hook me if you made me feel like I was in the bookstore with him. Is it dusty? Does it smell weird? Does he hate it there? Just try to show us what he's feeling so when we find out his heard aches for his sister--our heart aches, too.

  5. I agree that you could incorporate the setting described in the first paragraph into the story. It would help to set the mood as he speaks to his sister. Let the reader envision him there in the empty bookstore and draw the parallel to his loneliness.

  6. Not totally hooked, the 1st paragraph was just too wordy. Watch for repetitive words-the 3rd sentence had "and" 7 times. It broke the flow for me. Though, from the 2nd paragraph onward I liked.

  7. Love the bookstore idea (cause hey who doesn't love a bookstore) but there was a supertolongtoread sentence in there and there was no break. I think if you break it down and edit, you could make a good first paragraph.

  8. I'm curious about his real job, but otherwise not hooked. Until Luke answers the phone, he doesn't actually do anything. He leans back, he gazes, he looks, he thinks, and that's about it.

    Based on just this, I agree with others to start with the phone call, but avoiding mini-infodumps like "[he] closed his eyes as he thought about his vibrant sister."

    But also, is there somewhere else you can start that would be even better?

  9. I'm half hooked.
    You set the scene well, however the word 'store' was overused. You could write 'As usual, the place was empty.' - because we already know it is a store from the previous sentence.
    Also the way he closed his eyes to think about his sister and the way his heart ached was good because we get to know the character and his feelings, however I thought it was a bit too romantic sounding.
    I would read a few pages more to see where this was heading.
    Good job :)

  10. Slow. What if you just did:

    Luke leaned back in his chair and gazed around the store, crowded with books. As usual, it was empty of people.

    The phone rang and broke his waking reverie. "Matthews and Sons Books," he answered. He heard a chuckle on the other end.

    "Do you ever think that you'll change the name?" his sister, Emma, said.

    Luke smiled. His sister was the only light in his life, and he missed her so much his heart ached.

  11. Not hooked, sorry. The first few paragraphs are all setting with zero conflict, aside from the bit about his job--which then isn't mentioned anymore--and I also don't get any sense of tension or conflict from the phone call. The last line also seems a little overwrought, mainly because we don't know either of this characters yet.

    I'm sure there's a good story here, but maybe you need to get to it sooner; we can get all the details about the bookstore and customers and setting later. Right now, we need something to draw us in.

    Good luck!

  12. Too much description about the setting. I'm not sure what this is about by the end of the posting.

    Is this the right place to begin?