“What do you have against vampires?”
“It’s not personal,” Brannon answered without turning away from his computer.
“Then why do you kill them without a trial?”
“They’re a walking disease. If we let them live they’d infect the whole damn planet.” He shrugged as though damning all my kind to eternal suffering was nothing.
“What Brannon doesn’t know…” I left the rest unsaid, because we both knew if Brannon ever found out, he’d be really hurt, right before he hurt me. Brannon didn’t take betrayal in any form, and that’s exactly what my existence was to him. A betrayal. I should have never taken that job, should have never let myself that close to him. Let him get that close to me.
Michael laughed and sauntered towards me. He pushed me against the wall a little too roughly for foreplay, but that was alright. I’d show him rough.
Novellas are so rarely done right. They either have too much going on or not enough. When novella’s go wrong the characters are lifeless, the plot is none existent, and the relationships feel forced. To avoid this, writers must go about writing a short story in the same way they would write a full length novel. There needs to be rising action, climax, and falling action. There should be surprises and originality, not just sex. Sex is good, even in abundant amounts, but not when the sex scenes feel forced and pointless. It must feel relevant to the plot, and natural for the characters to behave in such a manner.
Today, I’m showcasing Patricia Briggs’ novella, Alpha & Omega. Although, this lacks the steamy scenes we all love, it’s a good example of how to pace and plot your novellas. Even though this is a short story it feels complete and realistic (for PRN and UF, anyway).
She drove well, if a little overcautiously — which trait he didn’t mind at all, though it didn’t stop him from bracing one hand against the dash of the rental. She hadn’t said anything when he told her to drive them to her apartment, though he hadn’t missed the dismay she felt.
He could have told her that his father had instructed him to keep her alive if he could — and to do that he had to stick close. He didn’t want to scare her any more than she already was. He could have told her that he had no intention of bedding her — but he tried not to lie. Not even to himself. So he stayed silent.
As she drove down them down the expressway in the rented SUV, his wolf-brother had gone from the killing edge caused by the crowded airplane to a relaxed contentment Charles had never felt before. The two other Omega wolves he’d met in his long lifetime had done something similar to him, but not to this extent.
The anger and the hunter’s wariness that the wolf always held was only a faint memory, leaving behind only the determination to take this one to mate — Charles had never felt anything like that either.
She was pretty enough — though he’d like to feed her up and soften the stiff wariness in her shoulders. The wolf wanted to bed her and claim her as his own. Being of a more cautious nature than his wolf, he would wait until he knew her a little better before deciding to court her.
He leaned against the door to give her a little more space and looked out at the city lights so she’d feel safe stealing a few glances at him if she wanted to. He’d been quiet, hoping she would get used to him, but he thought now that might have been a mistake.
“I’m a little older than I look,” he said, smiling a little. “Two hundred years ago, an Indian lodge was pretty fancy housing in Montana.” Like most old wolves he didn’t like talking about the past, but, he found he’d do worse than that to set her at ease.
“I’d forgotten you might be older than you look,” she said apologetically. She’d seen the smile, he thought, because the level of her fear dropped appreciably. “There aren’t any older wolves in the pack here.”
“A few,” he disagreed with her as he noted that she said “the pack” not “my pack”. Leo was seventy or eighty, and his wife was a lot older than that — old enough that they should have appreciated the gift of an Omega instead of allowing her to be reduced to this abased child who cringed whenever he looked at her too long. “It can be difficult to tell how old a wolf is. Most of us don’t talk about it. It’s hard enough adjusting without chatting incessantly about the old days.”
“My mother was Salish,” he said. “Of the Flathead tribe.” She snuck a quick look at his perfectly normal forehead. Ah, he thought, relieved, there was a good story he could tell her. “Do you know how the Flatheads got their name?”
“Because the other tribes weren’t trying to alter their foreheads, but to give themselves a peak at the top of their heads. Since the Flatheads did not, the other tribes called us “flat heads”. It wasn’t a compliment.”
“We were the ugly, barbarian cousins, you see.” He laughed. “Ironically, the white trappers misunderstood the name. We were infamous for a long time for a practice we didn’t follow. So the white men, like our cousins, thought we were barbarians.”
He shook his head. “Father is a Welshman. He came over and hunted furs in the days of the fur trappers and stayed because he fell in love with the scent of pine and snow.” His father put it just that way. Charles found himself smiling again, a real smile this time and felt her relax further — and his face didn’t hurt at all. He’d have to call his brother, Samuel, and tell him
“So your opinion is unbiased?” He slid out of the car with a feeling of relief. His brother made fun of his dislike of cars since even a bad accident was unlikely to kill him. But Charles wasn’t worried about dying — it was just that cars went too fast. He couldn’t get a feel for land they passed through. And if he felt like dozing a bit as he traveled, they couldn’t follow the trail on their own. He preferred horses.
After he got his suitcase out of the back, Anna locked the car with the key fob. The car honked once, making him jump and he gave the car an irritated look. When he turned back, Anna was staring hard at the ground.
He was going to have to be careful this time he realized as he tried to pull the wolf back under control. Usually when his father sent him out to deal with trouble, he could do it coldly. But with an Omega wolf around, one that he found himself responding to on several different levels, he was going to have to hold tight to his temper.
He decided that further attempts to reassure her were likely to do the opposite. She would have to learn to accept that he was a man of his word. In the meantime he would give her something to think about.
Below are hooks from three fellow WordPress Writers. If you like their hooks, please click their title links.
The paintbrush slipped from her fingers and fell to the floor, speckling green paint on her shoe. Shannon swore under her breath. She picked up the brush and glanced at the canvas. A man in a toga stared back.
“Too bad you aren’t real, Bacchus,” she murmured. “I could really use a half-naked man right now.”
She padded into the classroom, her black satin robe tight around her nude form. She glanced around the room and took in the students setting up and the professor shuffling papers on his desk. It was a normal class for the most part. Girls studiously set out their pencils, paper, and smudgers. The smaller group of guys eyed her with interest. She could always got those looks considering the type of modeling she was doing. Although some were actually there to advance their artistic studies, there were a few bold stares. Stares like those made her wonder why she modeled.
Detective Lina Blackmoore passed the bouncer’s inspection and stepped into a club unlike she’d ever seen. Midnight Sex Shop was a “legal” underground sex club. The club supposedly offered everything and for the right price, a customer could get anything. And Lina was here just to see how far that anything went.
“The logical part of my brain knew he couldn’t scent the vampire in me, but my nerves didn’t know that. My survival instincts had already decided in favor of flight but the predator had zeroed in, and any movement would be a signal that I was up for the chase. Escape was out the question, but I could distract him. He might be were, but he was still a man.
“It’s Burberry,” I whispered, looking up at him through my eyelashes.
His lazy hold became rigid, and he asked me, with no small amount of suspicion, “Burberry?””
Since we’ve been on the topic of hooks this week, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorites. The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning is superb, and in my opinion Darkfever has one of the best hooks of all time. (Click on the quote for a full excerpt of Darkfever)
Beautiful! There is a reason this book is a bestseller, and it’s Moning’s ability to suck you into the story. Her writing is suspenseful and intriguing. When writing your hooks–scratch that, when writing your entire manuscript, you should incorporate this same atmosphere. Readers want to feel the tension. Make me want to read more. If your first sentence isn’t good enough grab my attention, chances are, neither is the rest of your story. I’m not saying this to be cruel, but you need to realize that first impressions last the longest. Think of Twilight. Why do you think so many people made it through the insanely slow pace of that book? The prologue! It catches your attention.
“I’d never given much thought to how I would die–though I’d had reason enough in the last few months–but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.”
Whether you love or hate Twilight doesn’t change the fact that that’s a good opening line, because it makes the reader curious. Who’s going to die? Why? How? What reasons did the narrator have to think he/she would die?
Your hook should create questions, so that people have a reason to move forward.
Every great book has a great hook.
Bad rhyme aside, there’s a wealth of truth in that statement. We live in a fast-paced world, and you have to assume everyone has ADHD. If you want a reader to get past the first page, you have to grab their attention and hold on to it. Nothing does this like a great hook. Unfortunately, there is no recipe for greatness. As my Mama would say, “it either is one or it ain’t.”
The question is, how do you know if it’s a great hook?
The only way to really test your hook is to let others read it and be the judge. That’s what this post is for. In the comments, post your hook (one to two sentences) and your blog/website address(preferably to an excerpt or blurb, if you have one). I will post everyone’s hook in a new post, and you’ll see how intriguing your hook is by the number of hits your link gets. And even if your happy with your hook, this is a great why to advertise.
So show me your hook!
“It only takes one bad decision to ruin a perfectly good future. One minute you’re living life to the fullest, the next, you’re dealing out death just to ensure you take your next breath, because dying is not an option. I’m not talking about the six-feet-under kind of dead. I would welcome that with arms wide open at this point, because the way my life’s going it’ll be the only peace I ever know. It’s the unnatural death I fear. A salvationless eternity of hunger, pain, and loneliness.”
True blood premiered Sunday, June 26, and I missed it. We don’t have HBO here because no one in this house is a big fan of television. It’s hard to sign a twelve month agreement for channels I’ll only watch once per week for three months. However, True blood is worth it, so today I threw my frugal common sense out the window. Tomorrow, I’ll be able to watch the first episode of True Blood and I’m ecstatic!
In honor of the True Blood season four premiere, I thought we’d discuss Charlaine Harris’ Dead To the World. In my opinion, it was the best book in the entire series (so far ;)). One of the things I admire about Harris’ writing is her ability to use the first-person point-of-view without using “I” in every sentence. It’s a skill very few writers have and as we can all see, it pays off. Just imagine what Mrs. Harris’ bank account looks like.
Moreover, I love the originality of Harris’ characters. They all have serious character flaws that are realistic and funny, at the same time. You have to admire an author that is willing to make her heroine hot-tempered and prudish, while having a hero who wears red bikini underwear and admittedly gets on the heroine’s nerves.
Below is an excerpt of an excerpt of Dead to the World:
Under the overhead light in the kitchen, Eric looked pretty pitiful. His bare
feet were bleeding, which I hadn’t noticed before. “Oh, Eric,” I said sadly, and
got a pan out from the cabinet, and started the hot water to running in the
sink. He’d heal real quick, like vampires do, but I couldn’t help but wash him
clean. The blue jeans were filthy around the hem. “Pull ’em off,” I said,
knowing they’d just get wet if I soaked his feet while he was dressed.
With not a hint of a leer or any other indication that he was enjoying this
development, Eric shimmied out of the jeans. I tossed them onto the back porch
to wash in the morning, trying not to gape at my guest, who was now clad in
underwear that was definitely over-the-top, a bright red bikini style whose
stretchy quality was definitely being tested. Okay, another big surprise. I’d
seen Eric’s underwear only once before—which was once more than I ought to
have—and he’d been a silk boxers guy. Did men change styles like that?
Without preening, and without comment, the vampire rewrapped his white body
in the afghan. Hmmm. I was now convinced he wasn’t himself, as no other evidence
could have convinced me. Eric was way over six feet of pure magnificence (if a
marble white magnificence), and he well knew it.
I pointed to one of the straight-back chairs at the kitchen table.
Obediently, he pulled it out and sat. I crouched to put the pan on the floor,
and I gently guided his big feet into the water. Eric groaned as the warmth
touched his skin. I guess that even a vampire could feel the contrast. I got a
clean rag from under the sink and some liquid soap, and I washed his feet. I
took my time, because I was trying to think what to do next.
“I was coming home from work, as you can see from my clothes.” I was wearing
our winter uniform, a long-sleeved white boat-neck T-shirt with “Merlotte’s Bar”
embroidered over the left breast and worn tucked into black slacks.
“I need the money,” I said, wiping my hand and pulling the roll of bills out
of my pocket and dropping it on the table while I was thinking about it. “I got
this house to maintain, my car is old, and I have taxes and insurance to pay.
Like everyone else,” I added, in case he thought I was complaining unduly. I
hated to poor-mouth, but he’d asked.
Every now and then, their ages do show. “I have a brother. I can’t remember
if you’ve ever met Jason.” A cut on his left foot looked especially bad. I put
some more hot water into the basin to warm the remainder. Then I tried to get
all the dirt out. He winced as I gently rubbed the washcloth over the margins of
the wound. The smaller cuts and bruises seemed to be fading even as I watched.
The hot water heater came on behind me, the familiar sound somehow reassuring.
I tried to imagine Jason’s face when I told him that I expected him to
support me for the rest of my life because I was a woman and shouldn’t work
outside the home. “Oh, for goodness sake, Eric.” I looked up at him, scowling.
“Jason’s got his own problems.” Like being chronically selfish and a true