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  1. #11
    Member hvysmker's Avatar
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    Just an idea, but why does the "hook" have to pertinent to the story?
    -------
    Joseph stood on a railroad platform in 1840s Kansas, shivering in a November breeze. He could see the 0915 train slowing down for his stop. As it approached a crossing with Rural Route sixty, he heard a horrendous screeching as a green pickup slid slowly into the intersection.

    "My god," Joseph screamed, covering his eyes.

    To his relief, the engine trundled past a few seconds later.

    He continued on to work.
    --------------

    Nothing else to do with the story except to give vital information.
    Last edited by hvysmker; February 13th, 2020 at 01:42 AM.

  2. #12
    Member Rojack79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hvysmker View Post
    Just an idea, but why does the "hook" have to pertinent to the story?
    -------
    Joseph stood on a railroad platform in 1840s Kansas, shivering in a November breeze. He could see the 0915 train slowing down for his stop. As it approached a crossing with Rural Route sixty, he heard a horrendous screeching as a green pickup slid slowly into the intersection.

    "My god," Joseph screamed, covering his eyes.

    To his relief, the engine trundled past a few seconds later.

    He continued on to work.
    --------------

    Nothing else to do with the story except to give vital information.
    I would say that as writer we want to entice others to read our work. We want to pull them into this world we've created and that's why the hook, I feel at least, is vital to any good story.

    "I should have shot him in the head."

    Axle thought as he plummeted to the cold waters below, the train still chugging along oblivious as to his violent departure from its warm confines.

    Now how's that for a hook huh!? Oh and the proper use of a run on sentence.
    This might not be my best work but that just means there's room to improve.

    I don't have a big ego. You just can't comprehend my greatness!

  3. #13
    I read the example and flashed back to a recent thread in which we discussed whether there can be too much dialogue in a piece. At the time, I thought it wasn't a serious risk, but reading this has made me reassess.

    You're writing from a fairly distant POV, which doesn't help me feel immersed in the story, but you're also using dialogue as an opportunity to info-dump. I don't care about these characters yet, so I don't really have the patience to sit there and have them feed me a bunch of information I don't really need yet. If the core of your story is exploring white people's views of different cultures, I think that could be an interesting (if controversial) story, but I think you should try to get to the meat of it more quickly. If, on the other hand, your story is actually some sort of action piece, I think you should get to the action.

    This may be a "tell, don't show" situation? You're spending a LOT of words establishing, I think, that we have a couple living a comfortable life after having done some international travel? I'm not sure that's important enough to be shown, not when it could be told so easily.

    For me it, comes down to knowing what your story is about, and making sure your reader knows what it's about as soon as possible.

  4. #14
    I kinda have to agree with BV.
    If you are gonna open the story with that intro you posted, it needs to hook us more.
    The interaction between the husband & wife needs to be more clever...draw us to this couple.
    Right now they kind of bore me...
    Could they be doing something a little more interesting than sitting on the couch?
    Maybe some more clever interchanges between them, more like Morticia and Gomez (or Nick & Nora Charles) maybe?
    Otherwise, there are better ways to data-dump this info elsewhere in the story.

  5. #15
    And when they remember their friends, the memories should be more memorable.
    The friend who lifted heavy stuff, why not have a memory flash of him tearing up a pub or something flashy.
    This intro felt like you were trying to stay safe, trying to write inoffensive characters.

  6. #16
    Lawrence Block says in his 1981 book Telling Lies for Fun & Profit (Chapter 25 "First Things Second") that the best concrete piece of writing advice he ever received was "Don't begin at the beginning." He goes on to list more than a half dozen examples of his own work and whether he followed the advice or not and why. Might be a good reference for your dilemma!

  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by hvysmker View Post
    Just an idea, but why does the "hook" have to pertinent to the story?
    -------
    It doesn't even have to be true! I point this out in my website on beginnings:

    In the beginning, there is a formula.
    Actually, there are several formulas.
    (We Regret to Inform You)
    It's reasonably common even if you don't count dreams.
    Useful information you can't find anywhere else. Hidden Content s Hidden Content

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by hvysmker View Post
    Just an idea, but why does the "hook" have to pertinent to the story?
    I definitely think the hook should be pertinent to the story. Otherwise, as a reader, I feel cheated. I really really hate "false start" openings, unless they're foreshadowing something.
    "So long is the way to the unknown, long is the way we have come. . ." ~ Turisas, Five Hundred and One

    "[An artist is] an idiot babbling through town. . .crying, 'Dreams, dreams for sale! Two for a kopek, two for a song; if you won't buy them, just take them for free!'" ~ Michael O' Brien,
    Sophia House

    Christ is risen from the dead,
    trampling on Death by death,
    And on those in the tombs,
    lavishing light.



  9. #19
    Member wannabe1's Avatar
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    Small update

    Taking into account what some of you have said about my opening I've rewritten it a bit. I have attempted to remove what has been called unnecessary. Is this any better?

    Craig knew they would be soon heading out on a new adventure from the look on his wife’s face after she hung up the phone. “Where to this time?”

    “We’re going to a place in China,” Erin replied with a smile.

    “Really, I didn’t know you had any interest in Asian archeology.”

    “I don’t but a new discovery has a strong connection to the Middle East.”

    “And I’m coming because?”

    “There’s a growing conflict between the locals and the archeological team and the police have, so far, failed to … contain it.”

    “Anyone hurt yet?”

    “No, but the situation could get violent at any moment.”

    “I don’t think the Chinese government is going to be happy a former CIA operative might be getting involved. Are you sure the invitation is for both of us?”

    “Absolutely. Do you remember Dave Rabanow? He worked with us on a dig at Ephesus, in Turkey.”

    “Sure, he was a big guy that seemed more interested in a female member of the team than digging.”

    “Her name was Melissa and they’re married now.”

    “And?” Craig asked, knowing there was more coming.

    “Dave told Martha, the leader of the archeological team, about your successful effort to prevent that crazy sect from hurting any of us during our work in Turkey.”

    “Martha? Anyway, this person is okay with me using my … ah … talents even though we’ll be in a communist country that frowns on that kind of thing?”

    “Well … she told Dave that she saw no problem with you coming as my husband. And, if you just happen to be around when something violent is happening and help stop it, tha’ll be fine with her also.”

    Craig shook his head, dismissing the conversation. “Anyway, why do they need you? What kind of a connection can there be between China and the Middle East?”

    “Something about a new discovery in Xian.”

    “Never heard of it.”

    “It’s a very famous area. A bit more than forty years ago, some farmers discovered a site that was lost to history for almost two-thousand years. The farmers were sinking a water well and accidentally discovered some curious items. The person that owned the property reported the event to the local authorities and they decided to investigate. Ultimately, a very large man-made cave system was discovered. It’s sort of a tomb and contains more than seven-thousand life-sized terracotta soldiers. No two of them, especially their faces, are exactly the same. It’s supposed to be a marvelous place to visit, drawing hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

    “A local team of archeologists and anthropologists have discovered a whole new area of caves. They’ve just begun their excavations and have already made several exciting discoveries including some very old texts they believe are Middle-Eastern in origin. Anyway, Dave and Melissa were on vacation in China and decided to visit the old city of Xian and the area where the Terracotta Warriors were discovered. Apparently, they overheard a discussion about the new discovery and ended up getting involved in the investigation. It was Dave that suggested they contact me to help translate the texts.”

    “That’s nice. I still don’t understand this problem with the locals.”

    “According to what I was told, the locals are very upset with all the activity. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the site every year, completely disrupting the lives of the local people. This new discovery is threatening to bring even more people into the area and there are now threats of violence, from the locals, have been voiced. The police are torn between protecting the locals and the archeologists.”

    “Anything happen yet?”

    “So far, they crowd the roads to block the new commerce and tour buses. The police are apparently more sympathetic to the people than to the archeologists. Anyway, the head archeologist, a woman named Martha Huáng, wants to find someone to translate the old texts and to find another way to protect the new excavation.”

    “Martha?”

    “Yeah, apparently, it’s very common for the Chinese, that interact with foreigners, to select an English first name. They think it makes conversation with ‘Westerners’ much more personal.”

    “And what’s the story about ‘another way to protect the new excavation’?” Craig asked, repeating Erin’s statement.

    “Well, since the authorities are on the side of the locals, they aren’t offering much assistance to the archeologists. Martha is very concerned.”

    “So, I’m supposed to be a one-man protector?” Craig asked, reluctance clear in his voice.

    “Well, Dave told Martha about your background and she thinks it would be a good idea to have you around, just in case.”

    “Just in Case?” Craig repeated.

  10. #20
    Member Rojack79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wannabe1 View Post
    Taking into account what some of you have said about my opening I've rewritten it a bit. I have attempted to remove what has been called unnecessary. Is this any better?

    Craig knew they would be soon heading out on a new adventure from the look on his wife’s face after she hung up the phone. “Where to this time?”

    “We’re going to a place in China,” Erin replied with a smile.

    “Really, I didn’t know you had any interest in Asian archeology.”

    “I don’t but a new discovery has a strong connection to the Middle East.”

    “And I’m coming because?”

    “There’s a growing conflict between the locals and the archeological team and the police have, so far, failed to … contain it.”

    “Anyone hurt yet?”

    “No, but the situation could get violent at any moment.”

    “I don’t think the Chinese government is going to be happy a former CIA operative might be getting involved. Are you sure the invitation is for both of us?”

    “Absolutely. Do you remember Dave Rabanow? He worked with us on a dig at Ephesus, in Turkey.”

    “Sure, he was a big guy that seemed more interested in a female member of the team than digging.”

    “Her name was Melissa and they’re married now.”

    “And?” Craig asked, knowing there was more coming.

    “Dave told Martha, the leader of the archeological team, about your successful effort to prevent that crazy sect from hurting any of us during our work in Turkey.”

    “Martha? Anyway, this person is okay with me using my … ah … talents even though we’ll be in a communist country that frowns on that kind of thing?”

    “Well … she told Dave that she saw no problem with you coming as my husband. And, if you just happen to be around when something violent is happening and help stop it, tha’ll be fine with her also.”

    Craig shook his head, dismissing the conversation. “Anyway, why do they need you? What kind of a connection can there be between China and the Middle East?”

    “Something about a new discovery in Xian.”

    “Never heard of it.”

    “It’s a very famous area. A bit more than forty years ago, some farmers discovered a site that was lost to history for almost two-thousand years. The farmers were sinking a water well and accidentally discovered some curious items. The person that owned the property reported the event to the local authorities and they decided to investigate. Ultimately, a very large man-made cave system was discovered. It’s sort of a tomb and contains more than seven-thousand life-sized terracotta soldiers. No two of them, especially their faces, are exactly the same. It’s supposed to be a marvelous place to visit, drawing hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

    “A local team of archeologists and anthropologists have discovered a whole new area of caves. They’ve just begun their excavations and have already made several exciting discoveries including some very old texts they believe are Middle-Eastern in origin. Anyway, Dave and Melissa were on vacation in China and decided to visit the old city of Xian and the area where the Terracotta Warriors were discovered. Apparently, they overheard a discussion about the new discovery and ended up getting involved in the investigation. It was Dave that suggested they contact me to help translate the texts.”

    “That’s nice. I still don’t understand this problem with the locals.”

    “According to what I was told, the locals are very upset with all the activity. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the site every year, completely disrupting the lives of the local people. This new discovery is threatening to bring even more people into the area and there are now threats of violence, from the locals, have been voiced. The police are torn between protecting the locals and the archeologists.”

    “Anything happen yet?”

    “So far, they crowd the roads to block the new commerce and tour buses. The police are apparently more sympathetic to the people than to the archeologists. Anyway, the head archeologist, a woman named Martha Huáng, wants to find someone to translate the old texts and to find another way to protect the new excavation.”

    “Martha?”

    “Yeah, apparently, it’s very common for the Chinese, that interact with foreigners, to select an English first name. They think it makes conversation with ‘Westerners’ much more personal.”

    “And what’s the story about ‘another way to protect the new excavation’?” Craig asked, repeating Erin’s statement.

    “Well, since the authorities are on the side of the locals, they aren’t offering much assistance to the archeologists. Martha is very concerned.”

    “So, I’m supposed to be a one-man protector?” Craig asked, reluctance clear in his voice.

    “Well, Dave told Martha about your background and she thinks it would be a good idea to have you around, just in case.”

    “Just in Case?” Craig repeated.
    I like it. The only thing I would add is some details of there surroundings, like are they at there house, in a hospital that sort of thing. This appears to all be dialogue which is great but it needs a little something more.
    This might not be my best work but that just means there's room to improve.

    I don't have a big ego. You just can't comprehend my greatness!

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