February 13, 2012


I guess I'm just a sucker for punishment :) But I figure with the query process drawing near, having a strong first chapter is essential! So I joined in the 'hook, line, and sinker' blogfest.

JW Parente is holding his 2nd annual Hook, Line and Sinker blogfest. Read, comment and have fun.
The rules are:
Date: February 13, 2012
Where: In My Write Mind blog, and your own
Objective: Post your 500-1000 word hook and critique other hooks posted by participants

Suggestive topics to consider when critiquing:
  • Does the character have a personality I can fall into easily? This includes any dialogue exchanged.
  • Is the world around them set up to compliment the character as they're introduced?
  • Are there secondary characters to assist with the hook?
  • Lastly, would I read more?
Here is my first chapter- and I love honest feed back, please don't feel like you have to hold my hand!

          The first battle
Glass shattered, piercing the silence of night.  Gabe leapt from his bed in a state of panic and his blankets tackled him to the floor.  He flailed around, wrestling the material in a chaotic display of acrobatics; at just sixteen, his enormous feet and lanky limbs were the perfect recipe for an uncoordinated, clumsy teen.  Finally he broke free and sprung up, alert.   
What was that!?  He stared at his opened door, the white of his eyes contrasting his raven skin, camouflaged to the dark of his room.
            The world outside was fast asleep.  Silent.
Good, it was just a dream. 
No sooner had the thought entered his mind, a small shadow darted from the hallway toward him.  Before he had time to react, she was at his side, eyes wide with alarm.
“Sis,” he said, exhaling a deep breath.  “Why are you out of bed?”  He bent over and picked up the frightened, little girl.
“The noise scared me,” she whimpered, wrapping her legs tightly around his waist and throwing her arms about his neck.
She heard it too!  Anxiety quickened his heart.  What should I do?  Did mom and dad hear it?    
He attempted to lower the six year old to the ground, but she was having none of it.  Squeezing tighter, she moaned fearfully, pleading with him.
Suddenly the house shook, filling the halls with booming sounds, as if a car just barreled through their living room. 
His sister screamed and instantly he clasped his hand to her mouth then darted to the safety of his closet.  
“I’m going to go see what the noises are, but I’ll be right back,” he whispered, placing her on the ground as he began ripping shirts from their hangers to pile around her.
“No,” she begged, trying to wiggle from her barricade.
“Don’t worry.  I’ll be right back.  But I need you to stay here.”  He rushed and finished packing her in then knelt down.  Her brown eyes streamed with tears, and he wished he could comfort her.  “How about we play a game? Umm…, oh I know.”  He forced a smile.  “Let’s pretend you’re a princess.”  It was her favorite game and Gabe hated himself in that moment for deciding two years ago he was too ‘cool’ to play it anymore.  “We’ll pretend you’re trapped in the closet.  And you can’t come out, or make a single sound until I come and rescue you.”  He gulped, fighting the tears.  “Okay?”      
She nodded somberly, grabbing the nearest shirt to wipe her gushing nose. 
He kissed her forehead, whispered, “I love you,” and scurried out the small closet, quietly shutting the door behind him. 
Slowly he crept out his room and down the hall, silently avoiding each creek in the floor by memory as he made his way to the top of the staircase. 
He made it a few steps down when-
“Gabriyel,” a strange, dark voice called to him.
His eyes shot wide.  Who?
“I’m glad you finally worked up the nerve to join us,” the voice taunted.  “Please come and sit with your parents?”
“NO!” his mother screeched.
At the sound of her anguish Gabe sprang into action, forgetting his fears.  He bounded down the remaining stairs and charged into the dining room ready for a fight. 
Rushing in, he screeched to a halt, unprepared for the tragedy of the scene before him. 
The dining room was demolished.  Remains of what use to be their table were scattered into pieces around the room, along with the fragments of plates and glass littering the floor.  
But all were minuscule in comparison to the sight of his parents, lying on the blood soaked rug on their side, hands and feet roped behind their backs. 
The top of his father’s head held a large gash, oozing blood, with a sliver of skull peeking through.  His mother’s face was deformed from the beatings.  Her lip puffed with fresh crimson seeping out and her eyes were swollen shut from the excessive blows.   
The man glared at Gabe while he wiped his fist with a red-stained cloth to remove the blood from the latest blow he’d given to Gabe’s mother. 
Any fears were immediately stifled as anger readily stepped forward to the frontal lobes of Gabe's brain, bringing its closest friends- wrath and rage. 
His fury boiled to a deadly intensity and it exploded out of him.  He flung himself through the air at the man who just hit his mother.  
Only one thought was running through his mind.  I will kill you. 
He could hear screams from his parents, begging him to be careful, but the madness inside had been released and it needed to be satisfied.
He drew back his right arm and launched it with all of his strength.  Swinging through the air, his fist collided with the indestructible face of his opponent and instantly every bone in his hand shattered.  Agony shot up his arm and he faltered, but only for a moment.  Gabe sprung again, reaching with both hands and wrapping them around the man’s throat, neglecting the torture of his broken bones.  His right hand was worthless, unbending and rapidly swelling, but he held it there, while his left hand squeezed.
The man’s lips curled as if enjoying this.  He hadn’t flinched when Gabe charged him, and even now he seemed unfazed.  
His pride was foolish.
Gabe pumped electricity through his body, willing the energy from every cell to funnel through his palms, into the villain’s neck.
The assailant stared at Gabe, eyebrows raised in horror.  Lifting his hand, he placed it on Gabe’s face, and his eyes narrowed, the corners of his lips rising deviously.    
Gabe’s warm skin pricked in reaction to the cold hand.  He sucked a breath and braced for the impact of what was to come, never releasing his grip. 
If I die, you’re coming with me.

This gets me just shy of the 1000 word limit, so I'll stop here. If you have read this far then either you really love me, or you really loved my chapter.  Either way--thank you for reading, and I would love ANY feedback!!!


Justin W. Parente said...

Okay, so this the pace here is what really grabbed me. It's fast and gets me straight to the point where it seems the initial conflict will be revealed. What I'm left wondering is who my character to follow is: I believe this sixteen year old is Gabriyel (an odd spelling) but then at the end when he confronts this man (Gabe?), the POV shifts. That's not okay. You need to be in one head or the other. Not both. If you choose Gabriyel, you can explain exactly what he feels similarly to what Gabe is feeling.

Thanks for sharing!


Amber said...

Sorry about that, they are the same, initially he was Gabriyel, but I decided to switch to Gabe-b/c that is what everyone calls him throughout the story, so I figured the narrator should too. I guess I missed one of the spellings in my edit. It is all one pov though. Just a typo error.

Frank Blasi said...

This looks to be a very gripping story. The chapter ends with this teenager named Gabe with his hands around this intruder's neck.
But the intruder knows this teenager's name, and invite him to join his parents downstairs.
Is this intruder known by the family? We await chapter two!

Sara said...

I enjoyed this. You kept us in suspense the entire time, and introduced us to Gabe. I love the long the awkward long limbs.

You need to fix the pov switches. As it reads right now its a bit confusing. But thats pretty easy.

The only bit of feedback I have (and it really is a personal preference)is that in your action scenes, you tend to use long sentences. I would shorten them up. Short sentences increase the pace. They make the action read faster. They raise the tension. While long sentences take more time, and in action sequences things tend to move quickly. Short sentences show that. Long sentences don't show it as much.

Sorry...I got a bit carried away.

Amber said...

Sara thanks for your feedback! Can I ask why you think I switched pov, so I can fix it. I never switch pov's-there is only one mc and I tell from his pov... so if there was a point that you thought I switched please tell me so I can fix it right this second. I will query this in a few weeks and I don't want an agent thinking I'm flipping around. thanks so much!-- And I will look back and see where I can restructure some sentences. I do love to put everything into one long sentence. haha- a weakness I'm working on.

Amber said...

thanks Frank for the comment. Hopefully my query will be critiqued soon and I will post that, so you'll get a better feel for the story and where it's going. But to answer your question.- Gabe's parents got in above their heads with the villain who knows them, but Gabe is clueless to who the man is and what his dealings are with the parents.

Charity Bradford said...

Ooo, this raised a lot of questions about your MC and the antagonist standing in his house. I'd keep reading to learn more.

I thought the pacing was good. The only thing that made me pause was the fact that some skull is showing from his dad's head but he's awake and alert?

Amber said...

Thanks Charity. I agree about the skull. It was a suggestion a cp gave to gore it up, but it is a bit much- although I will say they are a breath away from death. And they die in like 4 minutes. (hehe) which leads into some of the trials Gabe will face- I just couldn't fit their death inot the 1000 limit.

Rena said...

Hi Amber,

What's great is that we really get to the thick of the plot nice and quick, but that's also the hang up I have. I was pretty confused because we start off with what seems like two kids having nightmares then move to some bad guys committing murder in the kids' house.

The hard thing about this is that we haven't had an opportunity to understand what's going on here. As a reader, I'm confused and here's why:

If Gabe woke because of the sound of shattering glass and the world was quiet, then are these murderers also super silent with fields of silence? Beating people up until their skulls are showing through their scalp isn't quiet work.

If his mom is able to scream "No!" then why hasn't she been screaming her head off for the whole time.

I guess I'm just not convinced that it was actually quiet, and that really pulls me out of it.

But don't worry, plenty of people usually disagree with me, so it could be fine the way it is.

Mitch said...

I agree with the last comment, there are some factual errors. But all in all the pace was quick and I did not feel the need to skim or anything. Overall I really liked it and probably would have kept on. Great work!

Sara said...

Amber, shoot me an email. I'm pretty sure I link to it on my blog...but tommorow I'm out in the field teaching, so I won't have computer access til really late. and I'll break it down.

Sorry for any typos. Stupid phone kets.


Amber said...

@Rena- thanks for all the opinions. It really is appreciated. Originally I had some screaming from the mom and that is what finally get's Gabe to go downstairs and see what's wrong. However, in the interest of 1000 word limit I cut that bit...but I will def. make some needed corrections. Thanks for catching those gaps for me!

Chris K. said...

Hi! Sorry it took me a while to hop around to your entry.

I'm definitely hooked, but it was a little hard to follow what happened in the confrontation with the intruder, after Gabe got downstairs.

I really loved the description at the start and the dialog between Gabe and his little sister.

At the end - it seems as if Gabe can channel electrical energy - but the intruder's only reaction appears to be horror - not pain? How exactly is Gabriel reacting to that moment? I feel like some more description of small details might help this passage - not so much that it bogs down the pace, of course, which is a tough balancing act.

Thank you for sharing your excerpt!

Erin Kane Spock said...

You really captured the fear here. The little sister raised the stakes and showed Gabe's character. I love that fear and grief didn't cripple him. In all, this was exciting and I would keep reading.
Sorry to get here so late. :)

Amber said...

@ Chris and Erin- thanks for stopping by and giving your opinions! It is very appreciated. I have made a few adjustments to clean up the movement and specify the abilities. This bloghop was great for helping point out my weak spots :)