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Posts Tagged ‘The Hook’

  1. Tips for Writing the Perfect Hook

    April 30, 2012 by Kiersi

    Tips for Hooking an Agent or PublisherWilliam Nolan, author of the award-winning dystopian novel Logan’s Run, described the process of editing for Gamma magazine as far back as the 1960s at the Write to Publish 2012 convention this weekend:

    Every Thursday I went into the office to go through the slush pile of manuscript submissions for the magazine. I reached the point where I’d open each box or envelope, slide out the first page, and just read the first couple of paragraphs. That was all the time an author got to impress me and convince me to keep reading.

    With the advent of email submissions, agents and publishers increasingly find their inboxes swamped by unsolicited manuscripts–leaving them even less time to wade through backstories and prologues to get to the action, the theme, the meat. This is true even for query letters. I’ll leave that topic for another day.

    Here are some suggestions I picked up at the Write to Publish conference to help you clean up your manuscript for submission. (more…)


  2. Would you read this book?

    April 29, 2012 by Kiersi

    Write to Publish Conference 2012 - Ooligan PressI just returned from Write to Publish 2012, an event put on by Portland State University’s (PSU) Ooligan Press program. It was great (as arbitrary and rudimentary an adjective as that is). I met lots of cool authors and gathered their autographs, asked a few obnoxious questions and generally made a nuisance of myself. A good time all around. I spent far more money than I should have buying books by authors who spoke at the panels.

    After listening to many a discussion about editors wading through the “slush” pile of unsolicited submissions, mainly involving Logan’s Run author Bill Nolan and his take-no-prisoners approach to acquisitions, I decided that the first page of a manuscript is, in reality, the absolute most important page of the whole piece of work. We may not want to admit it to ourselves, but that first bit of flash and bang is essential to selling a manuscript to an agent or acquisitions editor. (more…)


  3. Concept Schmoncept

    September 19, 2011 by Kiersi

    Concept art for Fire and Brimstone

    Concept art for Fire and Brimstone (working title)

    After the discussion about titles, I started thinking more and more on how books present themselves to readers, and the power of first impressions.

    I’ve been mulling over some ideas about what the cover of Fire and Brimstone would look like, should I have that creative freedom. (more…)


  4. How to Start Your Masterpiece

    September 11, 2011 by Kiersi

    Dante's Inferno: Yep, this is the best book ever written.

    This book changed my 15-year-old life.

    Sometimes I spend so much time on beginnings that I just don’t know when to stop.

    It’s debatable whether the beginning of a story is the most important part—but at the least, it’s the part that hooks your reader, the part that gets him or her to read more, to want to read more, and maybe even buy your book (or represent you, or pick up your manuscript, or whatever it is that you’re looking for).

    Beginnings tell us, your readers, what to expect from you. Not everyone is interested in the type of book you write. For example, my mom would never find herself hooked on a fantasy book. That is not a bad thing. You don’t want to try to tell my mom your book is a mystery thriller if it’s actually a fantasy book, because she’ll read a little bit further and just be disappointed.

    1. Be honest what you’re about. If you like to write stream of consciousness, tell us right away. Make it good, make your impression fast, and make it interesting, for god’s sake!

    When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.

    The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

    Bam. Suzanne tells us right away, in her very first paragraph, what her book is all about. We know two of the main characters instantly. We know how Katniss narrates. We know this is a no-bullshit story and we’d better be prepared for that. Now we’re wondering: What is the reaping? Why does it terrify her sister? Getting your reader wondering is the key to The Hook (write this one down, it’ll be on the test).

    2. Jump right into the action. Let’s be honest about the YA audience: they have a shorter attention span than most. They want the juice (the reason to keep reading), and they want it now. Doesn’t matter how you juice it, honestly. Start with a fight scene if your book has fights. Start with a sexy scene if that’s your audience. Like this:

    “I’m dying,” said the voice. Dusty clutched the phone.

    -first line of Frozen Fire, Tim Bowler

    Tim knows how to start out a thriller, let’s just put it that way.

    3. Last but not least, work on your first few pages a lot, but not too much (the mistake I mentioned at the beginning of this post). As I said in #1, you need to be honest with your reader about your writing style, your storytelling style, and your characters. If you work and work and work those pages to impress a reader or an agent or a publisher, you’ll find yourself with a stellar intro and a manuscript that just can’t match. Make sure that you use your intro as a chance to learn.

    You want to write a page-turner. The way to do that is to take what you’ve learned from your intro and apply it to the rest of your book (this is the juice to which I was referring). You want your reader to not only buy your book, but also to never put it down. You want your reader to rave about it to his or her friends. Find those moments that ratchet up the tension or play the harpsichord of your readers’ heart strings.

    Just remember to fill your book with juice and you’ll do fine.

    Then the light from the streetlamps began to dim. With each step, the path was harder and harder to distinguish. I wouldn’t make it to the buildings in the distance before everything went dark.

    Armed with a spurt of adrenaline I tried to run, but my legs had suddenly become too heavy; I was rooted to the ground.

    Then the night enveloped me.

    Fire and Brimstone