Monday, February 18, 2008

the hook

Almost as soon as the question was posed and answered as to what I might do with the new targets, it became more difficult to make them. Making art is easier than pitching it and as long as I didn’t have to think about it, I could make away.

So I went into a lull on slow panic, just at the thought of pitching. The painting exhibition took almost everything I had in that area. And once I thought less of it, I could cut and paste a bit more.

The first draft on the novel on a woman artist is done and of course it needs pitching too. One must fashion the best query they can, which is an art form in itself. Agents say that if the query is poor, you know that the novel must be. And almost all of that hinges on “the Hook.”

The Hook is the first line you write in the query, which tells the basic story. In one sentence, you give the gist. This is followed by a synopsis – in one paragraph, you get to give some more of the gist.

How-to books about fiction give us great examples for a lot of contemporary fiction and their Hooks. However I find it very difficult, if not almost impossible, to wrap up the depth of Pride and Prejudice or On the Road or the Red and the Black in a single sentence.

You can write in a very authentic voice for a novel which has, in no way, nothing to do with pitching and hooking. I now recall a writer friend who took a screenplay writing class in New York. The whole class, as it turned out, was devoted to writing the log line. That was it. I don’t think she ever did write a screenplay.


harold hollingsworth said...

Sounds so much like when I was in a band called Blanket, and we all would contribute to many of the song writings as a collaborative effort. We would start with a hook, and three to four chord progression that drove the chorus of the song. Then we would build out from there, lyrics, bridges, etc. The hook can drop you to your knees if done correctly!

Anonymous said...

Hey harold - you are right that a hook is an essential part of a rock song.
But when you write a novel, there is no one sentence that is the neccesary hook (unless you are talking first sentence, but even this is something which does not attempt to describe the entire book...). So what is difficult about hook writing in a query letter is that you take on a style and voice that you never have to develop within the novel. Of course it proves how adept of a writer you are, but it is actually more grueling than writing the whole novel.

Thanks, BTW, for watching the videos!