But how the heck do you distill 100,000 words into 2 sentences of cool? It's not easy. The internet has some good tips already, but I'm going to throw my own version into the mix because with something as subjective as a novel hook, I don't think you can have too many ways to think about it.
There are 7 things the hook should have:
- Protagonist. Who is the story about?
- Antagonist. Who or what is against the protagonist?
- Goal. What does the protagonist want to accomplish?
- Stakes. What will happen if the protagonist does not accomplish their goal?
- Conflict. What is keeping the protagonist from accomplish their goal?
- Setting. Where/when does the story take place?
- Theme. What is the story's main subject or idea?
The more I learn, the more I think that the best way to do this is to write the hook before I outline or draft the novel. It would help keep the novel more focused and make writing the query/pitch/synopsis much easier later on. Unfortunately, Travelers was an attempt to prove something to myself, so it got away from me long before I knew what a query was, and now I find myself having to wrangle it back in. I have more hope for Air Pirates, but that was also outlined before I figured this stuff out.
I'll start talking examples in the next post or two. And if I finish my other plans for the month, I might try writing a hook for Air Pirates using this method, and I'll show you that too. Finding a hook is like a Sudoku puzzle: it totally sucks until you figure it out, and then it's the most awesome thing in the world and you want to do it again.