Wednesday, November 7, 2012

IWSG: The One Sentence Hook


Happy November!

First, congratulations to Ellz Reads who won an autographed copy of Embrace plus the Embrace hemp bracelet and bookmark at my stop on the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop last week.

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to talk about insecurities. Before I do that, I’d like to thank Alex Cavanaugh for hosting this wonderful meme.

Summing a novel up in one intriguing sentence is always a challenge. As writers, we try to create a hook that’s succinct, unique and can be said in thirty seconds or less. I often worry I’ll get a blank stare from the person I’m talking to. You know the one where you can almost see the question marks above his or her head as if that person is thinking, huh, what did you just say? I’m thrilled when someone says my short spill sounded interesting and I can see they mean it.  

I’m actually pretty happy with the hooks for my latest novels. When I work on a hook, I’d print it out and tack it to the wall in front of my desk, make a tweak here and there, and then print the new version out and repeat the process. When I think I have it just right, I let my CPs and family read it and tweak some more if need be. If you need help with your hook, check out my post Writing a one-sentence pitch. 

So what’s the problem? For me, it’s remembering the hook a few weeks after I’ve stopped thinking about it.  I spoke at a writers’ group last month and realized just how awful my memory is. I have Embrace’s hook down, but that’s only because I’ve said it so many times it’s embedded in my subconscious. The hooks for my latest novels, not so much. So there I was talking to fellow writers about publishing my first novel and someone asked what I’m working on. I stumbled through the summary thinking you know this! Lesson there, tack my finished hooks to the cork board over my desk so that I see them on a daily basis. Maybe then I’ll be able to recite the hook I spent so much time writing when asked about my books. If that doesn't work, I've sent them to my phone. If you have any tricks for remembering your hooks, I'd love to hear them.


26 comments:

  1. Oh gosh, I'm right there with you as far as memory goes. Maybe it's time to start looking into healthy vitamins or something? lol

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  2. Great idea. I need a cork board for a lot of things, not just that. LOL

    Save The Cat helped me with the logline. It's so hard to condense stories into a few or just one line!

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    1. I love my cork board. I like being able to see what I'm working on at a glance.

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  3. I am so going over to your hook post right now. Writing a good hook was my insecurity last month - and I've still got it. :/

    Keeping your hooks readily visible on a daily basis sounds like a brilliant plan for remembering them.

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    1. I hope you find my tips helpful :) And I'm hoping seeing them regularly does help.

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  4. I don't even have a one sentence hook for any of my novels! This is something that gives a snapshot of the story? I have "When everything's on the line, streamline" and "This time the handcuffs come off" for Bad Behavior but those are more phrases describing just a part of the story. For The Next Best Thing challenge I had to write a one sentence summary for my WIP: "Planning a wedding's never easy, especially when the Russian mafia want you dead." Is that what you're talking about? What is yours for Embrace? (I'm sure I've seen it before).

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    1. What you have for your current WIP is great and that is what I mean.

      My hook for Embrace: Anything can happen in a town where people posses The Powers. Sixteen-year-old Madison Riley will discover these powers exist and she will need to embrace them if she hopes to save her friends.

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  5. I always worry about creating a good hook. No one wants to put that much effort into a novel and not be able to sell the idea because of a less than stellar hook. And pinning them over your desk seems like a great idea!

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    1. That is so true. Glad I'm not alone with worrying about it.

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  6. I've heard the likes of John Irving stutter over that exact question. We're a lot harder on ourselves than we need be. If I ask an author what the book's about, I expect a natural sounding answer. A little stuttering places him immediately as my peer. Great post, Cherie. I'm off to check out your log-line post.

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    1. I've heard NYT best selling authors stumble too. It's probably a natural thing to do. Thanks for stopping by :)

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  7. Maybe text it to yourself or make it the background on your phone. :)

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  8. Those one sentence blurbs are tough. I usually write three sentences and then make them two, and then try to get the same info into one. Lots of scribbling until I like what I ended with.

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  9. One line is easier than the whole synopsis! Which reminds me, I need to write one of those...
    Be happy to give your novel a shout-out!

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  10. Writing a few hundred pages and then saying the same thing in a sentence? Sounds hard enough...

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  11. i always want to add back story to my hooks...so hard!

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  12. I think the memory issue is contagious. Lol

    I dread writing the synopsis. The hook is even worse, but we push through. Some people can pop them out so easily.

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  13. One-sentence hooks and book blurbs are one of my banes. I can write a great synopsis, but if I have to limit it to just a few words, I can't figure it out at all. My book blurbs are all pretty horrible, because my publishers require me to write them. And hooks? Um...

    Thanks for posting this!

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    1. You're welcome. :) Thanks for stopping by.

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