by Michelle McLean
In this article, we are going to discuss how to create a hook line for a novel. It is important to remember that every story is different. Some will need a little more information, and others can get the point across in three words or less. Well…maybe a few more than three words, but you get my drift.
A hook line is exactly what it sounds like – a line that will hook someone into wanting to read your book. It is basically the same thing as a logline, which is a one line summary of a screenplay or script. Since we are creating these for a novel instead of a script, we’ll call them hook lines. They can run two or three lines, but no more than that.
Your hook line, like a logline, takes a story full of complex plotlines and high-concept ideas and breaks it down into a simple sentence that can be quickly and easily conveyed to a wide range of people. Your hook line is your first pitch in getting someone interested in your book. It can be used as the first line in your query letter, to help hook the agent into reading the rest of the letter and requesting information. And it is especially useful for those pitch sessions at conferences or lunches. When a prospective agent or editor asks you what your book is about, your hook line is your answer. Because it is a simple line or two, it is also handy for those family dinner parties when Grandma asks what your book is about.
This is actually easier than it sounds. You do not need to condense your entire book into one sentence. But you do need to give enough information that the agent/editor/curious acquaintance you are addressing gets the gist of your book and is interested enough to want more.
The difference is the inclusion in the second example of action and description words. The woman becomes a “neglected wife and mother.” She has a “torrid” affair. The beau is an “ex-con,” implying a world of danger and crime. She doesn’t just run off, she “flees,” kidnapping her children in the process.
Here are a few examples of loglines from well known movies. (Yes, I know we are creating hook lines for a book, but the concept is the same, and examples of loglines are easier to find).
For your own hook line, you need to decide which elements best convey what your story is about. It is interesting to see how adding different elements affects a hook line. For example, take a look at these two movie loglines.
Both of these loglines are for the film Wizard of Oz, but they each give the film a distinctly different tone. Personally I like the second one best :D but the first probably gives a better idea of what the film is about.
It might take a little while to get your hook line perfected, but if you stick to the main elements of your story (the main character, the villain or conflict, what is unique about your story, and spice it up with a little action), your hook line should almost write itself. Just to show you that ANYONE can do this, (because if I can do it, anyone can), the hook line for my book is below.
A young woman in Victorian England is swept into an illicit affair with a reformed thief and must find a legendary necklace to ransom her life and the lives of those she loves from a corrupt lord.
Can you spot the elements?
About the AuthorBorn in San Jose, CA, Michelle McLean is the oldest of five children. She has always been an avid reader and began to write at a very early age. She has a passionate love of learning, which led to earning a Bachelor's degree in History and a Master's degree in English. She currently lives in Utah with her husband, two young children, and one very hyper dog. Visit her website at http://authormichellemclean.com/index.html and her blog at http://www.michellemclean.blogspot.com/.