Monday, May 2, 2011
HOOK 'em in (in three seconds or less)
What is it?
The hook is the one-sentence core element of any pitch, logline, or query letter. It is incredibly handy to have memorized for any impromptu meeting with an agent or editor (or nosy family friend…) in a situation with limited interaction time (like an elevator).
Essentially, it answers the question: so what is your book about? In a way that intrigues the reader in exactly three seconds (because that is approximately how long you have to catch his or her attention).
Helpful Hook TipsFiction
X genre in which/When X happens, X must do X to X/otherwise X
If you need help getting started, answer these questions (one sentence answers) and plug them into the formula (and tweak from there):
1.What is your age group and genre?
3.How does your main character react?
4.What are your main character’s options?
5.What does your main character do?
6.What happens if he or she doesn’t get through it?
7.What are the larger consequences of this?
A specific frustration or situation one of your characters has to deal with that illustrates a key theme or problem (that is ideally unique) in the novel.
Why THIS book NOW? (Be prepared to follow up with: why YOU?)
*A sci-fi trilogy set in a dystopian future in which a 16-year old girl offers herself as a "tribute" in a series of deadly war games to save her family
Using the help tip:
•What is your age group and genre?
YA contemporary fantasy
Two girls become sirens
•How does your main character react?
•What are your main character’s options?
become a bird or finish the task and return to normal
•What does your main character do?
attempts to finish the task
•What happens if he or she doesn’t get through it?
they will belong to Hades
•What are the larger consequences of this?
they will lose their freedom
Plug it in:
YA contemporary fantasy in which when two girls become sirens they must lure a man to the underworld to be set free or they will belong to Hades and lose their freedom.
YA contemporary fantasy about two girls forced to work for Hades as sirens luring individuals to the underworld unless they want to belong to Hades forever.
When you’re finished, it should be easily recognizable as a SPECIFIC book.
*It’s hard to fall in love with the boy next door…when you don’t remember who he is.
*Becoming a goddess would be pretty awesome…if it didn’t involve death.
This version is more vague, a pure interest piquer.
*Star Potential is the first astrology how-to guide written exclusively for high school girls ages 15-17 that will capitalize on the teen obsession with astrology-related titles such as the bestselling Star Crossed (Running Press Kids, 2010) and The Star Shack (Sourcebooks Fire, 2010) at an all-time high, and the constant popularity of the horoscope section of teen magazines.
Look at the listings in Publishers Marketplace; these descriptions stem from hooks, though they tend to also be vague.
Other Helpful Tips:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=152587 – index of helpful writing tips