A Great Hook!

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I’m at the Florida Christian Writers Conference today, so while I’m away, you can have fun!

When reviewing proposals, I have noticed one particular element can present a challenge. That element is the hook.

What does the hook do?

Just as its name suggests, the hook lures the editor to keep reading. Challenge is, the hook must be succinct. One sentence is ideal. For example:

When an only child marries a widower with seven children, her fantasies about family meet with reality, to comical results.

This hook shows the overarching conflict and lets the reader know the book is comedic. Readers who enjoy reading family humor will gravitate to this book.

Another example:

When a widow unearths secret computer accounts with communication between her deceased husband and two mistresses, she decides to meet with them both.

This hook tells readers the book is contemporary, and brings questions to the reader’s mind as to who the mistresses are and how they will react. Readers intrigued by emotional conflict and betrayal will gravitate to this book.

And:

When her parents send Mary from their home in the Wyoming Territory back to Boston to learn how to be a lady, she learns that taming high society tongues — and her new suitors — proves tougher than breaking a bucking bronco.

Readers of lighthearted historical romance will want to read this book.

Movies!

Are you a movie fan? If so, coupling well-known titles can be effective:

Star Wars meets Mrs. Doubtfire — in this story of a space alien who wants nothing more than a relationship with his children.

Gone with the Wind meets Rambo — when a modern-day warrior travels back to the Civil War to try to change the course of history.

Have fun!

Why not share hooks for your latest hooks with us?

23 Responses to A Great Hook!

  1. Avatar
    Renee Andrews February 28, 2013 at 6:50 am #

    Great article! And I agree that the hook is SO important! Here is the hook for my newest release, Profiled…

    A killer with a twisted view of religion is counting the days, forty days and forty nights, and counting the murders, seven women every seven years. But he doesn’t realize two determined women are counting the days too, the days until they have vengeance…and the hunter becomes the hunted.

    • Avatar
      Heather Day Gilbert February 28, 2013 at 10:37 am #

      Renee, this sounds like an interesting book!

      • Avatar
        Renee Andrews February 28, 2013 at 11:10 am #

        Thanks, Heather 🙂 I’m very excited about it! Between the forensics classes and research with law enforcement professionals, I spent several years on this one, much longer than any of my other books. The “official” release day is tomorrow, and it’s dedicated to Tamela 🙂

  2. Avatar
    Kathryn Elliott February 28, 2013 at 7:15 am #

    Safe travels, Tamela.

    With her grandfather, artist Daniel Mulcahy, unable to pass from this life to the next without atoning for his greatest sin, art teacher Anna Shea’s dreams are haunted by his hope that her tender heart and sizable talent will help complete his greatest masterpiece – forgiveness.

  3. Avatar
    Angie Dicken February 28, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    Hope you are enjoying the conference! Here is my newest:

    When a seamstress-turned-rancher stakes her claim in the 1893 Land Run, a Texas outlaw tries to steal away more than her land, but her heart.

    • Avatar
      Christina February 28, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

      🙂 Love outlaw stories.

      • Avatar
        Angie Dicken February 28, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

        This is different than anything I’ve written! Love the challenge! What’s your favorite Outlaw book, Christina?

  4. Avatar
    Morgan Tarpley February 28, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    Great post, Tamela! I’m not published or agented yet, but here is my best attempt at my book’s hook. 🙂

    An American-raised Nazi is sent to Germany before World War II. The story remains hidden over 70 years until regaled by the now elderly woman who lived it.

  5. Avatar
    Angie Breidenbach February 28, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    A Healing Heart releases Apr 1 & Tamela sold it! Here’s the hook: Workaholic Mara Keegan has a heart attack and must trust her business to Joel Ruan, the one man who tried to destroy it.

    Great news! Amazon, B&N, and christianbook.com all put A Healing Heart on a major pre-order sale! You can get it for 50% off today!
    Angie Breidenbach

  6. Avatar
    Ron Estrada February 28, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    I struggle with hooks. I want to tell the whole story now! But here goes:

    When a retired Detroit homicide detective moves to a quiet Northern Michigan town, he finds that death has followed him and his past an illusion.

  7. Avatar
    Lee Carver February 28, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    It takes hours to come up with the perfect words in the right combination. How about this:

    Volunteering in the Amazon to escape a broken heart, an American nurse re-examines her life choices as she confronts hijackers, malaria, and her attraction to a certain missionary pilot.

    • Avatar
      Leia Brown February 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

      Lee,

      As a former missionary, I find this one interesting!

      • Avatar
        Lee Carver February 28, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

        Thanks, Leia. It’s “the book of my heart.” I’m doing re-re-rewrites now. The first draft was completed about 4 years ago, and I’ve learned a lot about writing since then. I was a volunteer missionary in the Brazilian Amazon for over 6 years, and DH was a (handsome, daring) pilot.

    • Avatar
      Christina February 28, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

      I agree with Leia.

      I love the idea of a missionary story.

    • Avatar
      Jennifer Major February 28, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

      Wow! I spent a summer in Brazil, from Manaus to Fortaleza and back. LOVED it there, loved the people! I’d read this book for sure!!!

  8. Avatar
    Christina February 28, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    Florida sounds fabulous right about now. Sun, sand, water. No snow. 😉

    Here’s my go

    She robbed a train to save four orphan girls bound for the saloon, but he stole her outlaw heart.

  9. Avatar
    Carole Lehr Johnson February 28, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    This is the hook for my unpublished manuscript.

    Can an old English cottage bring renewed faith and healing to several troubled hearts?

  10. Avatar
    Pat Jaeger February 28, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    What fun, Tamela! Whittling my paragraph into one sentence wasn’t as easy as I thought. Enjoy Florida and your conference. Here goes:

    When the abused son of his murdered friend enters his life, will the boy be able to help Sheriff Dan open his heart to love, and lead him to a place of forgiveness for his own father, teaching him that God’s love triumphs?

  11. Avatar
    Jennifer Major February 28, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    Some secrets are too dark to keep and too dangerous to tell.
    Will trying to keep Sarah Monroe’s past a secret destroy not only her, but also the man who has stirred her shattered heart?

  12. Avatar
    Lois Hudson . February 28, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    Guilt-ridden inventor of artificial womb faces adulation and vilification, seeks answers to chaos as worldwide birthrate plunges to zero when God closes the womb.

  13. Avatar
    Beth Steury February 28, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    What happens when his “true love didn’t wait” past collides with her “saving sex for marriage” decision? He’s changed but will that be enough? Her commitment is firm but will it withstand the temptations that come with falling in love?

  14. Avatar
    Jenni Brummett February 28, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    Enjoy Florida Tamela. I was in Key West last week on a research trip for my WIP.

    When 19th century New England mill girl Marjorie Reddick sails to Key West to inherit a shipwreck salvage company, the people she meets there, and the secrets they divulge, encourage her to receive a loving rescue from the one who’s been anticipating her return.

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