Red, Black and Blue: what color is your hook?

Contrary to my blog title, I was patriotic this weekend.  We journeyed up north and stayed longer than expected, ate more than necessary and had not internet connection.  Henceforth my hiatus.

We also had a little mishap–or two.  Henceforth my title.

Eldest broke his toe in a barefoot soccer match.  He should have been wearing tennies, but impromptu backyard games make us forget to nab our sneakers before fully engaging.

On the same day, DH capsized his sailboat in the middle of the lake.  When my father-in-law jumped in the speed boat to save him, I followed without thinking.  In the trial and error process of rescuing DH, I ended up bruised and battered.

Eldest and I reluctantly wore black and blue.

The red, however, was all good news.  Last year at an SCBWI conference, I heard an editor speak about a new book she had recently acquired.  She was thrilled to have it in her hands and spoke enthusiastically about this YA novel.

Turns out Sisters Red was worthy of her praise.  It’s not often I find a fairytale that really grabs me, but this book did.  And it got me thinking.  Did I love the book because of Jill Dembowski’s enthusiasm, or would I have loved it equally without her gushing about it?

I had no intention of buying this book as I scanned the shelves on Friday.  Yet the title popped into my head after lying dormant for over a year, and something stirred deep within me.  I knew I had to have it. 

I was prepared to love it and I did.  I was not prepared to rescue DH and I suffered for it by fumbling with a wet, heavy mast in gale force winds.  Eldest was ill-prepared to kick the ball around and will pay a high price for his foolishness as marching season ramps up.

Preparation goes a long way in dictating how we experience things.  It also plays a major role in how we present our writing.

A great novel deserves the undying love and respect of its author.  We should be able to paint it with passion in a few choice words.  If we can’t, we will end up with a battered a bruised hook.  One that does nothing but highlight how ill-prepared were are to represent our writing.   

How do you answer when someone asks, “What are you writing about?”  Do you have an enthusiastic and engaging hook to present?  One that will stir something deep inside and suck your potential readers in?  Or, are you a bit unprepared and fumbling?


10 responses to “Red, Black and Blue: what color is your hook?

  1. I’m still fumbling, but I’m working on it. No one in the ‘real’ world knows I write, so I don’t face that question yet there. I do face it online and have time to think about my reaction to it – and I get to think about how much the ‘asker’ really wants to know.

    I’m working on the pitch and query at the same time – not doing all that well yet, but it’s coming 🙂

    • Jemi, both are essential to boiling down the essence of your story. Your approach is fantastic and I have no doubt that when the time comes, you won’t fumble anything.

      You’ll have potential readers in the palm of your hand.

  2. I am not much on “hooks” but I am not fumbling either. I don’t really discuss my writing until it is printed or going to print except for one exception.

    I have answers for what I am writing about but I don’t go into a lot of detail. I don’t think it is necessary, but that’s just me.

    Ciao Bella,


    • Ardee-ann,

      But the point is, you have something solid to describe your project. Even a sentence or two that satisfies the curiosity–and hopefully raises it as well. In this respect, you’ve already mastered the hook. It’s just a more laid back approach and one that works for you.


  3. You can fumble all you want around friends and family, but if you’re going to shell out $$ to attend a conference and you haven’t honed your pitch to a perfect one-liner, you’re wasting your money.

    A one-line pitch to the right agent is the fastest road to representation.

    • Amen.

      Oh wait, I don’t know that first hand, but I’ve heard from my awesome AQers that it’s true. So all readers, remember Peter’s words: “A one-line pitch to the right agent is the fastest road to representation.”

  4. love concept of *battered and bruised* in writing…my one liner at Tx Writers League Agent Conference left me mutilated…every pitch was hard…good post!

    • Ouch, Jeanna. I would be so intimidated pitching live. I hide behind the written word and am awed by those writers who can put themselves out there in real time. Hope something good came out of your mutilation!

  5. I read somewhere about the one line challenge to describe your book. The hook, so to say in the query letter. A month ago I managed to do just that – write my one line description. I knew instinctively then that I wasn’t fumbling anymore. (Hugs)Indigo

    • Hey, Indigo. It’s nice to see you back. I hope your hiatus is over and I can start enjoying your posts again. They are amazngly inspirational and beautifully written.

      Congrats on finding your one-liner. It’s so nice to move forward to that next step. Empowering and motivating.


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