Not another book without a hook!

Janet Grant

Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

A few months ago I met with an acquisitions editor, and as we talked about what she was looking to acquire, she said, “I enjoy reading literary books and ‘softer’ nonfiction books, but I’ve learned that if a project doesn’t have a strong hook, the sales staff on our publishing committee will say, ‘Not another book without a hook!'”

What does that mean? And why does a lack of a hook deep six a project with most publishers?

As in fishing, a book’s hook snags the reader and won’t let go. It’s the premise of your novel or nonfiction book that causRoyalty Free Stock Images: Fishing hook underwater. Image: 18702589es the reader to say, upon hearing the hook, “I want to read that book.” A good hook captures our imagination and promises us that reading this book will satisfy us emotionally, be mentally stimulating and cause us to rapturously tell others they have to read the book as well. (That’s the book all we readers are always on the hunt for, right?)

A hook also makes a sales person’s job a breeze…well, at least a lot more successful. Always remember that a sales rep has about 10 seconds to sell your book. If you had to convince a book buyer in 10 seconds to say yes to buying into your book, what would you say to him or her?

Obviously you can’t tell all the plot details; a hook is broad-brush painting. But it has to be a descriptor that’s unique to your book. The sales rep is unlikely to make a sale if he describes a novel as “a female FBI agent hunts down a serial killer.” Yawn. But what about this: “A female FBI agent hunts down a serial killer who turns out to be her sister.” Okay, now we have a unique angle.

For a nonfiction book, the book buyer won’t get jazzed about a book about parenting challenges in today’s secularized world. Been there, done that. But a book about a family that went one year unplugged electronically every Sabbath and spent that time together, now that’s much more engaging.

And, you’ll note, each of these descriptions is concise.

If you have trouble coming up with a unique hook for your manuscript, it might mean your idea isn’t as focused–or as standout–as it needs to be.

After all, you don’t want to have an editor head-over-heels about your project only to find the sales staff crossing their arms and saying, “Not another book without a hook.”

What hook would you use to describe one of your all-time favorite books? to describe your WIP? Plus, it can be fun to think of hooks for classics like Moby Dick, The Screwtape Letters or Gone with the Wind.

156 Responses

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  1. Navdeep Kaur says:

    For my WIP: An young woman moves from USA to India for an arranged marriage to a multi-billionaire who refuses to let her come emotionally close. But through her, the young man discovers that he is a stolen child and they go on an adventure trying to recover his past.

  2. Lisa says:

    I find writing the hook to be really challenging. I’m still trying to master it 🙂

  3. Tari Faris says:

    What a good reminder and what a fun exercise. Here are two: one an old classic and the other mine.

    Jane Austin’s Emma- A woman bent on matchmaking ignores her own heart until it is almost too late.

    My WIP- A woman looks everywhere for Mr. Right, except next door.

  4. Jeanne T says:

    Janet, you bring up some great points here. 🙂
    This isn’t the best, but here’s a possible hook for, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe: When four children are drawn into a magical world, they must overcome evil to discover their destiny.

    Let’s see, the hook for my WIP goes something like this: A woman must learn to trust her husband’s lead in marriage while she dances with another man.

    Thanks for this exercise, Janet. 🙂

  5. Still sick with the flu, but hey, I’ll give it a go…
    “Will SERIOUSLY INTENSE anger management and cultural sensitivity classes save Magua from messing up yet another family, or will the French ever get it together and surrender to The Crown?”
    Last of the Mohicans.

  6. David Todd says:

    The US Navy races to aid a rogue Soviet missile sub before the Soviets destroy it. The Hunt for Red October

    An American tourist family becomes embroiled in a CIA operation in 1980s China. [my w-i-p]

    • Janet Grant says:

      Great description of The Hunt. I like the hook for your WIP, but I bet it could be even more powerful Put some emotional words in it that suggests the suspense and danger.

      • David Todd says:

        Thanks Janet.

        An American family faces separation, outlaws, and multiple role-reversals when they become embroiled in a CIA operation when touring China in the 1980s.

  7. This is my hook, though I know it needs a little work (I got some feedback from an agent who offered free critiques on one-liners, and she suggested I up the stakes…just haven’t had time):

    When a mother and daughter compete against each other in a televised singing competition, the success of one could mean the death of the other’s dream.

    Looking forward to reading some others’ hooks! 🙂

    • Upping the stakes, eh? Do they get along? Is there division between them? Is one of them in witness protection and the whole TV thing is a problem? Is one of them constantly pining for fry bread tacos and being super annoying?

      • Of course they pine for fry bread tacos, Jennifer. Doesn’t everyone? 😉

      • Jill Kemerer says:

        What are fry bread tacos?? 🙂
        They sound yummy…

      • Jeanne T says:

        Hey, are fry bread tacos gluten free? :)It sounds like something I’d love to love.

      • Jeanne, fry bread tacos are made(usually) with Blue Bird flour. Which is white flour ground to perfection. There is NOTHING healthy about a fry bread taco.

      • **Fry bread tacos, or Indian tacos, are made with traditional Indian fry bread, which (many scholars and historians believe)was invented by the Navajo during their captivity at Bosque Redondo/Fort Sumner, NM in 1864-68.
        Some of the BEST fry bread tacos can be found at The Fry Bread House near Indian School Road, in Phoenix, AZ. A small family owned restaurant that won the James Beard Award in (I think) 2011 in the small restaurant category for excellence in American cooking.
        Fry bread can usually be found at Native American gatherings across the US.

    • I like it, Lindsay. Maybe substitute: A mother and daughter square off (face off) against each other in a televised singing competition… Eliminates the Competitive and Competition repetition. (I sound like Dr. Seuss!) Just a thought.

    • Janet Grant says:

      I just saw the movie Perfect Pitch, and it occurs to me using some musical terms (don’t overdo it) could upgrade your hook as well–hence the thought of using a phrase such as perfect pitch.

    • I love this, Lindsay! Great job! 🙂

      (And God bless that wonderful agent. She gave me feed back as well–so generous!)

    • Oooh…I love the idea of your novel, Lindsay! And yall are cracking me up with the fry bread comments. 🙂

      I’m a bit behind on this but here’s two approaches to my book 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.

      or something longer like:

      1938 Germany: An American Nazi’s quest for truth leads to treason. Her story remains hidden for decades…until now.

      Two women of two generations struggle in search of love, forgiveness, and a chance to follow their hearts and shed broken pasts. But will faith be enough?

      Thanks! Any feedback is appreciated in this monster task of hooking a good hook. 😉

      • Janet Grant says:

        Morgan Tarpley » Thanks for letting us give feedback on your hooks.
        I’m not sure you’ve found the right combo yet. I like the 1938 Germany hook best, but I’m not sure it’s accurate to the story. The book is contemporary with flashbacks? Then you wouldn’t want to start out with 1938 Germany. I found myself not clear on what is at stake in the book, what’s the conflict? Keep trying! You’ll find it, I’m sure.

  8. Okay…for reelz this time…

    A widowed Navajo warrior and the battered wife of a Boston millionaire must find a path away from their their broken lives and toward each other, or lose their last chance at love and healing.

    Feel free to chime in.

  9. Sarah Thomas says:

    Let’s see, the book I’m currently writing features fly-fishing. Have I got a hook or what?!? (Barbless, of course, they’re more humane.)

    Okay, seriously. If anyone wants to help me boil this down to ONE sentence, I’d be most appreciative.

    Sadie Phillips finally learns who her biological father is—unfortunately, he disappeared on a fly-fishing expedition. Or did he? Arthur Morgan is rumored to have a miraculous ability to catch fish, but it’s his daughter who’s angling for the truth.

  10. Mindy says:

    Just like my manuscript, this is still a work-in-progress. 🙂

    “One week – to rescue her best friend’s wedding, protect her sister’s long held secret, and help her flood-ravished hometown start over. One week – to hide her attraction to a man she can’t forgive. One week that could prove to be the unraveling of not only her career and her family, but also her heart.”

    The story actually evolved out of a hook that kept running through my head, but after I wrote the first draft I realized I needed to revise the hook. Any suggestions on how to make this one stronger are welcome!

    Thanks Janet for challenging us with this post!

  11. Transformed from an impoverished mill girl to the heiress of a lucrative shipping company, Marjorie Reddick must fight to keep what is rightfully hers before the legitimate heiress, who has murdered once, reveals herself and her plans for revenge.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Lots of great detail, but I’m confused about who has the rights to the inheritance.

      • Thanks for your feedback Janet.

        The shipping company belongs to Marjorie’s uncle, but because his daughter died in a shipwreck many years earlier, Marjorie will inherit.

        Little do they know that the daughter is alive and not well. She is being eaten alive by bitterness, and willing to remove anyone who threatens to keep her from what she thinks she deserves.

  12. Lori says:

    This is the first time I ever tried a hook for my WIP.

    November 5, 2010, at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, the world was told there was no gunman and that no one was in danger.

    Earlier however, agent Christine Martin had the daunting task of trying to find and stop which experiment on the International Space Station has been taken over by a terrorist. Imagine her surprise when she found out who it was.

    • Janet Grant says:

      You’re headed in the right direction, but you have too much detail. The date isn’t important; the gunman isn’t important. The main character, the race against the clock and what she is trying to alter all are the key factors. Keep working it!

      • Lori says:

        Actually the date is kind of important because it is true statement and the news media (CNN, etc..) did report that there was a gunman at the NASA Glenn Research Center. This was an actual event, my novel of course is not.

        But I do agree that my hook needs works. Thanks for the advice and encouragement.

  13. Shauna says:

    Finally a game I can play! Didn’t have the author bio ready to go last time we “played!”

    WIP: Evidence that Jesus Christ finds remarkable faith in the most unremarkable people.

    • Janet Grant says:

      I’m a tad confused about the “evidence” part of this hook. That suggests an apologetics book to me, but then the rest of the hook sounds like stories about individuals’ faith.

    • Natasha says:

      I’m intrigued by this topic. A bit along the lines of what Janet said, it makes it sound like you would be building toward a yes/no conclusion on whether He does find remarkable faith in the most unremarkable people. What would be more interesting to me personally is insight into the elements of faith that He finds remarkable in those unremarkable people (which I’m guessing is the heart of your book?). In that way, the hook would be about the nature of remarkable faith rather than about whether or not there is “evidence” of it in unremarkable people. Did that make any sense? 🙂

      • Shauna says:

        Thanks so much for your input, Natasha. I REALLY appreciate it!

        Here is my opinion in regard to your question under your comment below(there wasn’t a “reply” option there)… what if you approached the marketing in a secondary way as an illustration of how the principle works: “Since all truth is God’s truth, it is interesting to note that the marketing industry has applied this same principle to business and sales.” Just a thought : )

  14. Leia Brown says:

    Can anyone help with this?
    “Jessica leaves her boyfriend behind for Africa, where she’s swept into a story-book romance with another missionary. But when their marriage flounders, will she remain true to her husband or pursue the love of her youth?”

  15. Jana Hutcheson says:

    I would love help with mine! This is what I have so far:

    Seventeen-year-old cancer survivor Jess Lockhart finds her faith tested when she discovers that the hot young fiddle player she’s fallen in love with once drank from the Fountain of Youth.

    But it’s not the actual (rumored) Fountain of Youth. It’s a spring in Alabama. Does that matter? Should I change it to something like “a spring that made him immortal” or “a spring that made him stop aging”?

    • She’s a cancer survivor, right? Is she worried about the cancer coming back? Is that why she’s intrigued with this fountain of youth? That might be important to work in somehow.

    • Jana,

      Is this a real spring in Alabama? Even if it is, I’m wondering if you can just use the idea of the spring but give it a fictional name. That way, you can say…”she’s fallen in love with once drank from the Spring of Immortality.” When you try to describe it (a spring that…) not only does the hook get wordy, it gets awkward. So, think about naming the spring. Since you don’t want to use the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, then I recommend you don’t use the phrase at all. It hits me as cliche.

      It sounds like an interesting story. 🙂

  16. Here’s mine for Siri Mitchell’s Chateau of Echoes, one of my favorite books.

    Freddie, a reclusive American living in France, finds her life thrown into upheaval when she allows famous novelist Robert Cranwell to stay at her bed-and-breakfast chateau.

    Love that book!

    Okay, here’s mine. I’d love help with this. I think it’s rather sad right now, but I’m not sure where to go with it. It’s so much easier to write the book!

    If life has taught Miska Tomlinson anything, it’s that there are no honorable men.

    But when an honest-to-goodness good man moves in next door, she realizes too late that she’s sold herself for nothing. And the man who’s opened her eyes to true love knows far too much about her to ever be interested in her.


    • Leia Brown says:

      I’m intrigued. I love the first line! But the phrase “sold herself” could mean a lot of things. You might be more specific there.

    • Janet Grant says:

      I think you’re trying to tell us too much of the story. Hook us with the question the reader wants to know the answer to throughout the book. It was probably easier to write a good hook for Siri’s book than for yours, right? You’re so much closer to your own manuscript.

  17. Karey White says:

    The hook for the book I just released was:

    Romance about a girl who opens wedding cake bakery but doesn’t know what to charge for her cakes. She decides to let the customer decide what the cake is worth. It causes business to go crazy she’s forced to figure out the worth of other things in her life.

    The hook for my WIP is:

    When a teenage girl goes to see Pride and Prejudice with her mother, she falls in love with Mr. Darcy’s character. Her obsessive desire to find someone just like him threatens to destroy any chance she has of finding real love.

  18. Kiersti says:

    I struggle with hooks a lot, especially the one-sentence ones. Any thoughts on which of these is more intriguing?

    In 1911, a young woman struggling to make a difference for the children at a Navajo mission school is caught between two men who offer different ways of following Jesus—an opinionated young reverend and a mysterious Navajo herder.


    In 1911, a young woman helping to evangelize the Navajo begins to fear the mission is doing more harm than good.

    The first emphasizes the romance more, the second the moral dilemma–both of which are an important part of the story, but I’m not fully satisfied with either. Thanks for this great post, Janet! It’s such fun to read everyone’s hooks. 🙂

  19. Wow, y’all are writing some great stories. Can’t wait to see them on Amazon.

    I watched the premiere of Downton Abbey last night, so I’m trying to come up with a hook for it. “An aristocratic family and their loyal staff must adjust to the changing times in early 20th century England.”

    Here’s the hook for my book: “A former soldier must protect his estranged wife when she’s threatened by the psychiatrist who seduced her in her teens.”

    • Janet Grant says:

      Contemporary? How does his being a former soldier have a bearing on the core of the story? If she’s estranged, why is the husband involved? Why would a former seducer show up and be a threat? For me, I struggle with how to put the three elements of the plot line together. Keep working!

      • Good questions, Janet. Let’s see…former soldier because it shows what kind of a man he is (as opposed to a college professor or an accountant, for instance.) And it’s more interesting than “a man must protect…” Estranged wife–her choice, and he’s trying to win her back. They’re recently separated and still very much involved with each other.

        The crux, though, and what I’d like to work into it is the fact that the psychiatrist is a threat because the heroine wrote a memoir exposing him. I’ll keep working on it. Thanks for your thoughts.

  20. Dee Bright says:

    Okay, I’m playing with a new and different hook for my MS, a contemporary suspense:

    When a young prison inmate stumbles on a murderous conspiracy, he puts his mother’s life in danger — and the only way he can save her life is to destroy her.

    Would love feedback!

  21. Elizabeth Kitchens says:

    Is the hook similar to the elevator pitch?

    Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island:
    Four men, a boy, and a dog stranded on a tropical island have nothing but their friendship to help them survive, though some mysterious circumstances make them wonder if they really are alone.

    Here’s mine: With the help of a mysterious woodsman, an enchantress punished for pride and stalked by Magic Collectors fights to regain her power and return home before the spell she cast on a proud prince breaks.

    • Janet Grant says:

      That’s a great hook for Mysterious Island.
      I don’t think we need the woodsman mentioned in your hook, and I’m puzzled about how her issue is pride and so is the prince’s. You have some great elements in your hook, but it still has a few confusing spots.

  22. Hooks. I love to read them. I hate to write them. BUT when I land a good one, it’s like hot coffee on a cold morning. Yum.

    Here’s a hook for my new serial on my website, Elderberry Croft:

    The residents of The Stage Coach Trailer Park are as run down as the park itself. So when Willow Goodhope moves in, breathing new life into everyone around her, they can’t help but wonder at the sadness that hovers at the back of her violet eyes.

    These hook posts have been fun – love reading the feedback from agents and fellow authors alike!


  23. Natasha says:

    Thanks for this post, Janet! This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

    I have a clear vision for my (non-fiction) book, but I’m concerned about the title and hook being polarizing. Here’s what I’m working with right now:

    Marketing God to Your Kids: The Guide for Christian Parents Who Aren’t Afraid to Intentionally Influence Their Children

    “Marketing God to Your Kids” gives Christian parents a powerful strategy for spiritually influencing their children, based on the research-based insights marketers have used to influence consumers for more than a century.

    I immediately eliminate negative associations with the idea of “marketing” God in the first chapter, titled “Don’t Worry: Marketing God is OK”. I explain that at its core, marketing is just the art and science of how to influence others, and the nature of influence is at the heart of what parents need to understand. I want the title and hook to communicate the uniqueness of the concept and grab attention, but at the same time I don’t want to risk turning people off.

    I would love to hear any thoughts from people here. It seems like most of you are doing fiction, but I’d love your insights on this. Thanks!

    • Janet Grant says:

      As you’re aware, talking about God as an entity to be marketed is problematic. I don’t know what the title might be, but the subtitles needs to convey the idea of making your kids receptive to God using proven marketing strategies.

    • Shauna says:

      As a mother who is deeply concerned about influencing her children for Christ, I would be immediately put off by the marketing reference. Perhaps you could lead with the “Intentional Influence” aspect.

      • Natasha says:

        Thank you for your honest feedback, Shauna! I think you are right that I need to lead with the concept of intentional influence. If the concept was positioned along those lines, would you still be put off by content that utilized marketing insights into how to influence your children for Christ? Or, with a “softer” title/positioning, would you be open to that application in the content?

  24. What a great way to start the first full week of the new year. I love this post. As for hooks, I’m almost as bad at them as I am at titles. 🙂

    My WIP: In post-Civil War New England, Amelia Ridgemont laments being sent to live with her spinster aunt after the death of her parents. When she uncovers Aunt Martha’s secret, Amelia embarks on a journey she hopes will reunite Aunt Martha with someone from her past, and improve their relationship.

    • Janet Grant says:

      You’ve got a good start with the time period and the protagonist’s name, but then the description drifts off into generalities. What’s the core conflict that moves the story along?

      • The conflict is that Amelia’s impulsive nature goes against everything Aunt Martha believes a young girl of her class should be, which creates tension in the house. Amelia knows Aunt Martha used to be a happier person, because her father told her stories of what her aunt was like as a girl, which is why Amelia hopes her mission to reunite Aunt Martha with this person will change things for the better.

  25. Favorite book about hooks: Hooked by Les Edgerton. Absolutely awesome.

  26. Navdeep Kaur says:

    I am working on my memoir right now, someone asked me for the hook and I couldn’t because I hadn’t had a chance to think it out. I have one now, I would love feedback on it.

    After the 9/11 Terror Attacks, the author must choose if she has what it takes to embrace her Sikh identity despite the hatred and violence directed towards people of her faith.

    Is this too generic? Are more specifics needed/

    • Janet Grant says:

      You have plenty of specific detail, but I would wonder how that question could adequately fill an entire book and keep the reader engaged. It comes across very introspective yet the memoir needs to have external conflict as well as internal.

      • Navdeep Kaur says:

        Thank, Janet. I wonder if listing a few of the plots might work.

        After the 9/11 Terror Attacks, the author must choose if she has what it takes to embrace her Sikh identity despite the hatred and violence directed towards people of her faith. Where does her faith stand when she begins to get facial hair and isn’t allowed to get rid of it or when some orthodox Sikhs lead her family to the brink of bankruptcy?

        I think a better hook will come when the manuscript is completed, but this is really helping me think about what direction I want to take the project in.

  27. Hooks are painful!!! Here’s the best shot from my WIP.

    Unable to pass from this life to the next without atoning for his greatest sin, artist Daniel Mulcahy frequents the dreams of granddaughter, Anna Shea; in hopes, her tender heart and sizeable talent will complete his greatest masterpiece – forgiveness.

  28. Humanity faces eternal damnation unless one man can destroy sin. “The Book of John”

  29. I love reading everyone’s hooks! The suicide attempt with the Colt revolver, dark moment for sure. 🙂

    Here’s mine for a historical novella set in Wa state in 1898.

    Can Mindy overcome secrets and betrayals of past to fall in love with a man with whom she is forced into marriage?

  30. Paula says:

    Here’s mine from my graphic novel I’m working on:

    Penance Copper is put to the test – to kill the superhero who stands in the way of the intergalactic slave trade taking root on Earth. But when she stops short of murder, the heroes don’t want her and the villains will show no mercy. Only God can save her – but how does she find Him?

    I think it’s a bit clunky still. :-/

  31. What does an upright walking creature who can speak the King’s English but can’t read it, have with a 12 year old boy named Nicholas Horatio Goodlad – as they sail together on a naval exploration ship during the Napoleonic wars?

    Absolutely nothing and there lies the rub!

    The Adventures of a Boy & his Creature” is a whimsical mix of satire with dollops of humor as fun chases danger on the high seas but . . . it’s in the imperfect relationship between the boy and his creature – where the true story lies.

    Nicholas has a “big time” dream of someday commanding a Royal Navy man-of war while Vittles wants to be a treasure hunter and a pirate. (A rather short pirate)

    • This sounds like a book I’d like to read with my boys. I’m intrigued by Creature. 🙂

      You gave some good hints as to the feel of the novel with phrases like “the King’s English” and “fun chases danger,” but I found myself wanting to know what their big adventure is in this book. You mentioned that the true story lies in their relationship, so is there some conflict between them you could mention?

      Again, this really grabbed me since I’m always looking for something for our family reading time that I will enjoy too!

  32. I enjoy tinkering with hooks, but I’m always torn between how many details to include and keeping things punchy. Here’s my attempt for Wuthering Heights:

    An outsider struggles for acceptance and love in the harsh climate and culture of nineteenth century Yorkshire, ultimately walking a path of loss and revenge.

    And for my novel, The Immortal Heathcliff:

    Can the immortal and cursed Heathcliff find redemption among the family he once tormented, or will he lose his heart to the last of the Earnshaw line?

  33. Jeannie says:

    Wanted man adopts deceased hooker’s kid to repay a debt he didn’t know he owed. (Les Miz)

    Mine: Young woman in search of journalism career attempts to break open a baby selling ring to get the story that will cinch her dream job. Soon she discovers babies aren’t the only thing they deal in and she may be the next piece of flesh on the auction block. Afraid to go to the police since the chief is the man she left at the altar two years ago, she does her best to break the story before she’s sold to the highest bidder.
    ..okay, that needs work. Suggestions?

    • Navdeep Kaur says:

      This hook really got me hooked. I think the second half about the police chief and her previous romance may be more plot summary than needed. You had me with just this much:

      “Young woman in search of journalism career attempts to break open a baby selling ring to get the story that will cinch her dream job. Soon she discovers babies aren’t the only thing they deal in…”

    • Paula says:

      Cracking a baby-selling ring will seal the deal on her journalism career. But she discovers more than she bargained for – and may be next on the auction block. Personally knowing the police chief might’ve helped – if she hadn’t left him at the altar two years ago.

      Her own past is catching up, and she’s running out of time…

  34. Thank you, Janet, for this challenging but important exercise.

    I’m still struggling with my hook, but here is the current version:

    A powerful and charming Dragon King agrees to change a teenage faerie into a dragon of the highest rank–as long as she surrenders herself entirely to his will.

    Here’s my hook for one of my favorite books:

    Shunned and ridiculed as a child, a young man with vision and special powers grows up to engineer the conception of the greatest king Britain has ever known. THE CRYSTAL CAVE

    Thank you, everyone, for your hooks. I’m under time pressure today and can’t comment on all the entries, but they are exciting!

    Thank you, Janet.


    • Navdeep Kaur says:

      Christine, I think you’re off to a great start with the hook. I would like to raised stakes that are more specific and give us just a little more of the story.

      Hmmm…Will he make her his Dragon Queen?

      • Thank you, Navdeep.

        I had cut out the specifics because of feedback I had gotten this week. Your feedback affirms my own feeling that it should be a bit more specific.

        He wants to make her his consort, and she is attracted to him, but it would mean giving herself up to him completely. She feels she would lose herself if she does that. And I think that’s what I have to get into the hook that is not there now: the conflict between getting her lifelong desire to be a dragon (along with winning her heart’s desire) and her hesitancy to allow the Dragon King to completely possess her.

        Obviously I need to work a lot more on it. Thank you for helping me gain more clarity about what the hook’s focus really needs to be. 🙂

      • Navdeep Kaur says:

        You’re welcome, Christine. Remember, go with your gut instinct because nobody knows your story better. Sometimes it’s just a matter of playing with words.

        Your story sounds very interesting, let me know when it’s ready for reading, I’d love to do the honors. 🙂

  35. Lyn says:

    Reading your hooks made me wonder what mine would be…
    Thirteen-year-old Litha’s twin brother and father have been abducted by eccentric, but relatively harmless, Kelman Blakely,who demands access to a non-existent time machine in return for their release. Is this a simple kidnapping, or something more sinister. Who is the mysterious and powerful third party who seems to be able to thwart the police at every turn?

  36. Darby Kern says:

    From a WIP.

    Ex-soldier, security specialist and adventurer Jake Muller tries to stay down to earth while strange things are happening in the sky. Now he’s being pursued by government agents, international operatives and Men in Black… but Jake knows a few tricks of his own, and he’s playing for keeps.

  37. Jan Thompson says:

    Once again, a very timely blog, Janet. Thank you!

    This has been an amazing two months of divine provisions for my WIPs. When I needed a checklist, Mary Keeley “suddenly” blogged on a checklist. When I got a bit weary (slow days in the “middle” part of a novel), there’s Rachelle Gardner’s blog on negativity. When I’m figuring out how to write a “sales pitch” for my novel, here is Janet Grant’s blog on hooks!

    How wonderful God is to provide all these golden nuggets, trail of breadcrumbs, for yet-to-be-published writers to navigate the writing journey.

    Writing a hook is both hard and easy for me depending on what I’m writing. In one MS, it just came to me just like that exactly what I want the conflict to be. It helped to be sitting there working on a one-sheet because it’s longer than a hook, but it requires a hook somewhere on the page.

    However, in another MS, I agonized over the hook. I wrote so many versions of the same hook over weeks, and none of them felt like that was it.

    When I read what you said in one of the comments: “But you’re probably trying to tell too much of the plot. What’s the core conflict of your WIP? That’s what your hook centers around. I can’t tell what that is from your hook.”

    Bingo! That was my problem too! Suddenly, it all clicked! My hook problem told me that I needed to go back and look at my MS. I see that in my current MS, I’m packing too much stuff into the suitcase. I need to take some stuff out and stick them in the rest of the trilogy. Then my hook will be clearer for each book (at least I hope so).

    Thank you!

  38. Emily R. says:

    Here’s mine for my WIP. 🙂

    “Struggling with guilt over an autistic classmate’s disappearance, Jordan abandons her college plans and secretly prepares to go into the military, but the stranger entering her life could change everything.”