First off, I really enjoyed reading everyone's hooks. Keep in mind, taste is subjective, but here were some of the things I looked for when considering each one and the power it had to pull me into the story:
--Did the opening prompt questions that I felt compelled to find answers for?
--Is Voice present?
--Does the hook provide an unusual combination of setting, character and circumstance?
Here's some stats you might find interesting:
--Of 71 hooks, 11 directly centered on death or funerals
--23 made the short list (with so many to choose from I had to be tough right from the start)
--9 made it to the semi finals
--6 entries would have made the the semi finals or better except their hook contained awkward phrasing/incorrect tense (always proof your work!)
--1 person made it to the podium but wasn't a Follower in any way. It broke my heart, but I had to exclude their entry to be fair to those who are.
And now, the winners!
Bronze medalist (2 page critique) Creative A
Her Hook: Aria fell. Once, a long time ago, she had dreamed that the sky could catch her. (I liked the lyrical quality of this opener and it made me wonder about the events that lead to this moment as well as the current action.)
Silver medalist: (5 Page critique) Delilah S. Dawson
Her hook: Blackstone Farmhouse was the dullest place on earth until about three in the morning, when the screaming started. It had been happening for weeks, but it never failed to surprise Lena. (This one promises something unusual, I think. I liked the clash of the 'routine country lifestyle' and an unexpected disturbing event.)
Gold Medalist: (10 page critique) Abby Annis
Her hook: Three seconds. That's how long it took for my life to end. (short & sweet, a bunch of questions come to mind about the POV character--questions I feel compelled to have the answers to.)
Winners can find my email here. Please contact me and I'll give some brief guidelines on what to send.
I think everyone deserves a big pat on the back. You guys did a great job with your hooks, and it was very, very hard to choose winners. Much of it came down to my own gut, which is exactly how I imagine agents and editors must ultimately decide when they sift through a deluge of queries.
Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your work with me. I'm sure there will be more hook contests to come!