Monday, October 1, 2012

The Hook

The hook… Short. Sharp. Deadly.
I have always been a “judge a book by its cover” kind of girl – but not anymore. That is definitely about to change.
I had chosen my current reading material quite by accident. Deciding a Brandilyn Collins, Seatbelt Suspense novel would be a good change from the Christian Romance stories I’d been reading of late, I grabbed at the sequel to her first novel I had read. Half way down the passage to my bedroom, I realised I had grabbed the wrong BC novel. I stared at it, disappointed. The cover didn’t particularly appeal to me. Neither did the title. I almost turned around and headed back to my bookshelf to do a swop, but decided to have a quick peek inside first.
“Some evil shouts from rooftops, some scuttles in the dark. The greatest evil tips its face toward light with shining innocence.
Baxter Jackson shone with the worst of them.”
Twenty-nine words were all it took and I was hooked – the same amount that hopefully hooked you into wanting to read more of this blog.
I read the two short paragraphs again, perhaps for the first time really comprehending all I had read about the importance of ‘The Hook’. Suddenly, neither cover nor title mattered anymore. I wanted to know more about what made this Baxter character tick and, more importantly, what had led the narrator to form such a judgement on who he was.
My hubby loves to fish, so I’ve had my fair share of time spent watching him camouflage that hook with bait. But it’s not the bait that catches the fish – it’s the hook. If the hook doesn’t firmly imbed itself in a fish’s mouth, the catch will soon be lost and the fisherman will come up empty-handed – or should I rather say, empty-hooked.
The same goes for the novelist; you need a good hook to snag the reader and not let them get away. The hook will keep them reading way past the bait of an intriguing cover or enticing title.
As for me, from now on I am definitely going to take the time to read those first two paragraphs before I judge a book by its cover again.
Now let me hurry back to my novel – after all, I’m hooked and I’m definitely looking forward to letting Brandilyn reel me in over the next 300 pages.

MARION UECKERMANN’s writing passion was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then Marion has has published some devotional articles in Winners at Work and The One Year Book of Joy and Laughter (published August 2011), as well as inspirational poetry online and in a poetry journal. Marion, who loves to multitask, has written her first Christian Women’s novel (unpublished) and is currently working on the sequel as well as a Historical Romance novel. Marion now lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and a crazy black ‘Scottie’. Marion is a member of the Christian Writers of South Africa and can be contacted via email on marion(dot)ueckermann(at)gmail(dot)com


  1. As you say, Marion, such a good hook! Thanks for the reminder. Now I am hardly game to look back at the beginnings of my own novels!

  2. I know exactly how you feel, Jo-Anne :) Totally reluctant!

  3. Which entices you more - the first lines, or the back cover synopsis? Isn't it automatic to pick up the book and look at what it is about (on the back cover) before you open to look at the first lines - the hook? No wonder we have to spend so much time designing and writing up the back cover for any book we have published.
    Another hook is the Title - as well as the sub title. What do you think?

  4. I'm with you on teh back blurb, but not on the title as hook. I'm pretty lame at titles, I guess, since the publisher has always changed the title on my published work. Worse, the titles they've chosen are not ones I like. Apparently what appeals to me does not appeal to the general public. :-(
    I agree with Marion that a good hook is invaluable. One of my favourites was in Mary Lawson's "Crow Lake."

  5. Wow, with a hook like that how on earth could anyone not read the book!
    Thanks for the reminder Marion, got to get working on that.

  6. Titles do hook me, but don't always keep me. They have to first live up to the back cover, then the first few lines. It is tough to ensure that all of these live up. Good post for thoughts as I am working on the beginning hook of my next book!

  7. And of course we cannot forget that The Hook comes way before any title is chosen, or cover is designed. The Hook is what will catch the interest of that prospective Editor.

  8. Great post, Marion. My papa was a fisherman. Loved the analogy. Now to get back to work. Brandilyn has set a really high bar with that hook. Wow!

  9. Super post, Marion. And yes, I agree with Lisa. The hook catches me. But whether I stay on the line depends on what follows. I have a sad collection of books, especially on my Kindle, where I've stopped reading around Chapter 3!

  10. The importance of the hook indeed. great post.You'll have us all looking at our own beginnings.