If I had to describe myself, it would be in a word that has many meanings with a complexity which falls off the tongue.
A word made up of many elements, is deceptive in appearance, and creates an illusion from the imagination.
My word would be Phantasmagoric. ~Summer Ross

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hook Line and sinker Entry

Hello everyone- I found a short novella I was working on and its called "Beyond Words" Its kind of a magical romancy thing, but you don't see it in the first chapter...which probably should change but I haven't figured how she would meet her love until chapter 2. anyway.

Justin is kind  enough to host a Hook Line and Sinker Blogfest where we get to kind of review each others works. Please feel free to criticize me to any level that is needed, as I have some pretty thick skin, just be respectful and honest. Also take a look at the other wonderful writers first chapters as well.
Here are questions Justin posted for readers to think about:

"Things to ask yourself:

  • Who is the character I am relating to?
  • Does he/she have a personality that I crave to read?
  • Is the world around them set up to compliment the character as they are introduced?
  • Are there secondary characters to assist the hook along, with conflict or pace?
  • Lastly: do I love the character? Do I want to read more about him/her?

Chapter 1 (Part of its actually 1,030 words of it. only 30 words over, I hope you don't mind so much.)

"Your grandfather used to be a writer. You and PoPo have allot in common. I'm getting up in my age and I wont be along in this world forever. So I searched." Grandma Adle said. A strand of her long gray hair fell from her perfect bun to caress her delicate, if wrinkled, face. Her hands carefully sifted through PoPo's things in an old wood trunk.

"What did you search for?" Shray asked. She watched her grandmothers dull green eyes sparkle to life as one item at a time came from the rusty trunk. As if memories of these forgotten items passed before her.

“Your grandfather’s dictionary, of course. Some people wont leave their home without their keys, not your PoPo William. No he wouldn’t leave without the dictionary.” grandma Adle’s face came to life as she pulled the tattered binding of an old dictionary from the bottom of the pile and handed it to Shray.

Shray’s hands slid over the rough edges and soft warn spots of the blue book. Her grandfather must have had this book for a very long time and used it frequently. Shray opened the book. There were small notes all over the sides of pages in her PoPo’s handwriting.

“Don’t you think this would be a bit old for me to use? I live in the 21st century and well PoPo didn’t” Shray attempted a half hearted smile.

“Dear Shray. I’m not worried about that. This dictionary will probably do you a ton of good in ways you wouldn’t think of. This book is special. You’ll see what I mean.” Grandma Adle replied putting the rest of the stuff back in the trunk.

A beep came from Shray’s wrist. She looked down. It was already three o’clock!

“Grandma, thanks for the book, I’ll get back to you in a little while. I have some things to attend to.” Shray told her grandmother and walked out the sliding door of the kitchen. She had always loved coming here when she was a little girl but now, without her grandfather here it seemed like a lonely house. It was cluttered with all of grandfathers old stuff. Grandma had refused to toss any of it out. This used to be a place of adventure for Shray. She guessed it was just another part of growing up.

Shray rushed through the dry cleaners, mail, and grocery store. She was home in time to start dinner and watch the five o’clock news. The dictionary was laid out on the counter as Shray fried onions and vegetables. She eyed it several times over the few minutes it took to make her meal. What was she going to do with it? It wasn’t as if it was up to date, though it was apparently a big part of her grandfathers life. She couldn’t throw it out. She decided tomorrow she’d go through her grandfathers notes and see if it was worth keeping.

The news turned out to be nothing more than the weather and charity. Not that interesting in Shray’s opinion. Besides her thoughts kept drifting to the dictionary, as if it were some kind of outlet for the pain she felt over her grandfathers death. It wasn’t like he died instantly. He had cancer and it finally took him off to a better place. Why would he keep that book so close to him? It was just a book, what was so special to him about it?

That was it, she had to look in it. She had to see if there was any significance for someone so dear to her heart to keep such tight holds to it. Shray turned the television off and walked over to the counter. She spread her fingers over the worn cover, then opened it to the first page. Words rearranged themselves before her eyes.

“What the…” Shray blinked a couple times and rubbed her eyes, then looked again. Sure enough, words were formed into sentences which read…

“Hello pumpkin. Are you ready for an adventure?”

“PoPo?” Shray half asked half whispered. Could he have known she would get this book? This was too much. Tears stung the corner of her eyes and her heart clinched with pain. She couldn’t handle this. She slapped the book shut as tears finally made there way down her cheeks. She had to be tired. There was no way her grandfather would have known she’d get this dictionary. There was definitely no way those words could have rearranged themselves. It must be stress and sleepiness. That’s it. She’d go to bed and tomorrow the words would be gone and she could deal with this in a more sane manner.

As the sun graced Shray’s white curtains, a sense of calm engulfed her mind. That’s when she knew she had a good night sleep. It was rare these days. So much had transpired in the last year between her grandfathers slow death, her grandmother going crazy and leaving her ex, Jeffrey. Shray wasn’t always sure which way was up.

Shray slowly got out of bed placing her bare feet on the soft green carpet. Her thoughts still on the past and wandering at an alarming speed to Jeffrey. Sweet, innocent, obnoxious Jeffrey. On the outside he was all that. On the inside of his pretty boy looks: blond hair, blue eyed Jeffrey was as awful as they came. In a matter of a few months “Mr. Perfect” had lied, cheated, and beaten Shray into submission. It was an awful mess to get out of. Shray was delighted with the thought he was behind bars now, even if there was still evidence as reminders, such as a broken ring finger and pinky. At least she was free of him and thankful for it.

Shray moseyed into the kitchen and put the coffee on. Then she spotted the dictionary. She picked it up and hesitated. Maybe she was losing her mind, but some part of her wanted to believe in what happened the night before. She let the thought pass and instead of looking she put the book back down. She wasn’t ready yet. She wasn’t even sure if it happened.


C. N. Nevets said...

Very evocative names and dialogue!

Jules said...

Well, I definitely want to know more about this dictionary. Being that I carry one too :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Jodi Henry said...

Just stopping by for the fest. Hope some of this helps.

“Justin’s: things to ask yourself questions:

Who is the character I am relating to?

Shray=> female, old enough to live on her own, lost the whimsy of ‘a little girl’, has had boyfriend who beat her but is now in jail, cares about her grandma and needs a dictionary for some reason

Does she have a personality that I crave to read?

I am a little undecided about this. She doesn’t care about weather or charity, she’s close to her grandparents, and she’s overcome an abusive relationship. She has good qualities as a person, but I am not sure her ‘personality’ really came through for me here.

Is the world around them set up to compliment the character as they are introduced?

I think so, yes. I love thick description, but it also has to be well placed. You offer us little details sprinkled throughout. Maybe add a little more about her apartment, if any amount of the book will be in there.

Are there secondary character to assist the hook along, with conflict and pace?

Grandma Adle.
Do I love the character? Do I want to read about her?

I feel like I could love her if you gave us more of her personality in this first chunk.

Justin W. Parente said...

Considering you said the hook doesn't come until chapter 2, I set that aside and focused on being hooked by the other elements. The form of the letter was interesting, but it helps the selection along. Your setting is strong as well. You have your character relationships beginning from here, and that's something I always like to see. I, on the other hand, have a loner character, and he has to work for it. But when we're dropped in the middle of their lives like this when something is ready to change, it's good that I have that sense of their connection.

Thanks for sharing this!

In My Write Mind

Summer Ross said...

C.N and Jules~ Thank you for your comments. The dictionary is important- I'm glad that kind of came across.

Summer Ross said...

Jodi~ You gave me some great ideas to add in thanks so much for your feedback! I agree I was sparing on details- I usually write to much...lol

Justin~~ Thanks for all your feedback- I'm glad i was able to connect it most the way through. I like starting inside relationships so the character has someone to play off of.

stu said...

This flows together pretty well, and I find myself liking the main character. Obviously, there were minor spelling things, but they don't really matter at this point.

Possibly, the speed with which you've leapt from the receipt of the book to discovering its magical properties and explaining the character's relationship to Jeffery is a little high. Even if you're pushed for space, you might consider putting the part about Jeffery first, before a full investigation of the dictionary.

Carolyn V. said...

Justin has some good points. I like a story with a hook that is right up front. So if the hook is in chapter two, add something (or a hint) to keep the reader right in the story! Good luck Summer!

Brenda Drake said...

I love how the dictionary is a character...the vehicle that allows PoPo to talk to Shray. So I don't understand why you don't think that's your hook? I'm hooked. If there is romance coming in chapter 2, then I'll be further hooked. And I'm all wondering what this dictionary has in store for her. What lessons will she learn from it? I'd turn the page. :D

Mesmerix said...

This is a unique concept. I'm interested already. There's some excess I think could be cut. Ask yourself these questions...

1) Do you need the scene with grandma or could you start at odd things happening with the dictionary?

2) Read the dialogue outloud. Does it sound like what someone would say? Most people talk in fragments, not complete sentences. I would break up some of the words to add punch. Also, watch out for too much description in between dialogue. Sometimes a simple "he said" will do. The reader does not need to be aware of every movement, blink and feeling of a character.

I think you have a very good start here. I'm intrigued by this dictionary, so you accomplished the hook. Great job! Hope my tips help you.

Old Kitty said...

I really like this - particularly as the dictionary comes to life!!! I like how you are inside Shray's head and make her a thoroughly believable character by letting the reader read her thoughts and her feelings. It's a very strong chapter! Thanks for sharing! Take care

Summer Ross said...

Stu~~ when I rewrite I'll look into the pacing- you might be very right on that- I'll rearrange somethings and see what happens. thanks for the tip.

Carolyn~ Thanks for your comment- I'll see what I can do to encourage your suggestion.

Brenda~ What a lovely idea- I never though of actual lessons to learn from it!!

Memerix~~ These are some really good questions for me to think about, thanks for listing them.

Old Kitty~~ Thanks so much for commenting and letting me know what seemed right. :)

Francine said...


I know this is going to sound silly, but I just loved the names: so appropriate per character!

And of course you'll alter things when you edit, don't we all, and there is some great feedback ideas here to take on board. Despite all that, I would love to read more and that's the key aspect of this blogfest! ;)

Summer Ross said...

Francine~~ Thank you for your comment- and yes I will be doing alot of editing to this novella when i have time. thanks again.

Dawn Embers said...

While I like the moment created in the first paragraphs, I will admit it does kind of show how starting with dialogue can have issues. It's interesting but at the same time it sort of drops the reader into a conversation without having a foundation or idea of character. Still interested even with that, so don't worry too much. ;-)

Jen Daiker said...

What a very unique and fun concept! I'm with Francine I'm all about the names :)

Elaine AM Smith said...

Hi Summer
I loved Shray. She a damaged and lost feel about her. I'd play down all other relationships except the loss of her Grandfather. Loved the book/dictionary idea.

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