Mark Terry

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Book Hook Cook Book

October 9, 2008
I love watching my agent kick into gear. I may have issues with her sometimes--as I do with seemingly everything on the planet, at least from time to time--but when she decides to be aggressive in her marketing, it pleases me no end. So having given her the ending she was apparently looking for on The Fortress of Diamonds, and supplying her with a short blurb/synopsis to sell it with, and then also giving her a possible title and story idea for a potential follow-up, she said, "I'll get it out later this week."

Well, actually, later in the day, and to a lot of publishers who apparently expressed an interest in it.

Nothing may happen, of course, that's the nature of the biz, but it does fill me with something akin to optimism.

Anyway, later in the day I had a thought: "I don't know if it's a great book, but it's got a great hook."

Pretty new thinking for me. I struggle with hooks.

But last week, on one of the few nights when I wasn't doing something, I happened to watch a large chunk of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" on FX. If you haven't seen it, it's a movie with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who are the pair in the title. A suburban married couple who just happen to be high-level assassins, although they aren't aware that each other is an assassin. Their marriage is on the rocks, they're both bored with the suburban man/woman they believe they've married, then they're sent out on separate missions to assassinate the same man, then they're pretty much assigned to kill each other. Mayhem ensues, the sexual chemistry absolutely sizzles and the movie takes off.

As I was watching this--I've seen it front-to-back once and probably half a dozen times in pieces on cable--I thought: If you take the married part out of this, it's a pretty standard shoot-'em-up.

Which was something of a revelation. Because I suddenly understood the hook. It wasn't: High-level assassins are hired to kill each other.

It was: High-level assassins are hired to kill each other... but it turns out they're married to each other and don't know it.

That, my friends, is a hook.

Part of the problem, I think, is the glut of entertainment options we have. Maybe Shakespeare had it easy. What the hell was he competing with? It wasn't a terribly literate population. There was no TV, no movie theaters, radio, CDs. Just a city full of people starved for entertainment with maybe a handful of theaters in the city they could afford to go to. And even then, many of them were probably familiar with his stories--certainly Romeo & Juliet had been around in one form or another for some time.

Can you imagine an age where people only saw a couple plays a year?

Wait, you don't think you see plays? Yes, of course you do. Why, just last night I watched three plays. One was an hour-long drama called "Star Trek: Enterprise" and I saw two more half-hour dramas (bits and pieces, I had to run up to the fruit market) called "Clone Wars." Thanks to TV, by the time your kid graduates from high school they've seen more 30-minute and 60-minute plays than people in Shakespeare's time saw in their entire lives.

Which might be besides the point.

* * *

I sent my editor a really great book,
She said to me, "Sir, I don't see the hook."

"I'm not fishing," said I, "it's got a great plot.
The characters sizzle, the action is hot."

"That may be so," she said with a blink,
"But story and character aren't enough, I don't think.
We have marketing and sales, Jesus, he wept,
The story must be what we call high-concept."

"High-concept," I say, with a wink and a nod,
"You mean a cover with Pamela Anderson's hot bod?"

"Sure," she says, "that will do in a pinch,
"Or a long-haired stud and a maid in a clinch,
But mostly we want something to sell
So you can earn back your advance... does that ring a bell?"

"Vaguely," say I, "but I guess I mistook
the secret of writing a best-selling book.
It's not about words or the writer's good looks,
It's all about dropping a well-baited hook."

Mark Terry

8 Comments:

Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Good luck with the book. And I'm sure you're right about hooks. Although, often, the idea is the best part. The execution is lousy. But by the time you find that out you've already bought the book.

I guess Sixth century Byzantine eunuch solves mysteries isn't much of a hook :(

7:24 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I don't know, Eric. It has the advantage of not having been done before (that I know of). I mean: private eye? Been done to death. Cop? Done to death. CSI? Done to death?

Sixth-Century Byzantine Eunuch?

Not so much.

7:27 AM  
Blogger inherwritemind1 said...

And you write poetry too? I'm so impressed!

I wish you good luck
and more than one buck.
Have a great hook and
You'll never get stuck.

Tena

9:13 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Tena,
Well, I think it's appropriate that the first thing I ever got published was a poem called "Science Student (Rhyme Abuse)" which is a great thing to call any poetry I write. It had the memorable lines:

Got no meaning, got no use,
Just gonna lead to rhyme abuse.

9:44 AM  
Blogger inherwritemind1 said...

Got no meaning, got no use,
Just gonna lead to rhyme abuse.


You have a future in writing rap lyrics.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

warhammer gold warhammer money warhammer accounts tibia money tibia gold tibia item runescape accounts buy runescape accounts runescape money runescape gold runescape gp runescape power leveling runescape powerleveling cheap rs2 powerleveling runescape equipment buy rs equipment runescape runes cheap rs2 runes runescape logs cheap rs2 logs runescape items buy runescape items runescape quest point rs2 quest point cheap runescape questpoint runescape gold runescape items runescape power leveling runescape money runescape gold buy runescape gold buy runescape money runescape items runescape accounts runescape gp runescape accounts runescape money runescape power leveling runescape powerleveling tibia gold dofus kamas buy dofus kamas wow power leveling wow powerleveling runescape questpoint rs2 questpoint Warcraft PowerLeveling Warcraft Power Leveling World of Warcraft PowerLeveling World of Warcraft Power Leveling Hellgate money Hellgate gold buy runescape logs buy rs2 items cheap runescape items Hellgate London gold Guild Wars Gold buy Guild Wars Gold runescape items rs2 accounts cheap rs2 equipments lotro gold buy lotro gold buy runescape money buy runescape gold buy runescape runes lotro gold buy lotro gold runescape money runescape gold cheap rs2 powerleveling eve isk eve online isk buy runescape power leveling rs2 power leveling tibia gold tibia item runescape accounts Fiesta Silver Fiesta Gold Scions of Fate Gold Hellgate Palladium Hellgate London Palladium SOF Gold Age Of Conan Gold AOC Gold ArchLord gold tibia money tibia gold runescape accounts runescape gold cheap rs2 powerleveling buy ArchLord gold DDO Plat Dungeons and Dragons Online Plat

8:28 PM  
Blogger peter.w said...

仓库货架|中量A型货架 仓储货架|中量B型货架 库房货架|横梁式货架 塑料托盘|栈板 钢托盘|钢制托盘 折叠式仓储笼|仓库笼 仓储笼|仓库笼|折叠式仓储笼 托盘|钢托盘 托盘|塑料托盘 周转箱|塑料周转箱 托盘|纸托盘 料箱|钢制料箱 工具柜|工具车|抽屉柜 工作台|工作桌 刀具柜|刀具车|刀具架 手动液压托盘搬运车|电动托盘搬运车 手动液压堆高车|手动叉车 仓储笼 仓库笼 南京仓储笼 常州仓储笼 无锡仓储笼 苏州仓储笼 徐州仓储笼 南通仓储笼 镇江仓储笼 连云港仓储笼 泰州仓储笼 扬州仓储笼 盐城仓储笼 淮安仓储笼 宿迁仓储笼 轻量型货架|角钢货架 中量A型货架 中量B型货架 货位式货架 横梁式货架 阁楼式货架|钢平台 悬臂式货架 贯通式货架|通廊式货架|驶入式货架 辊轮式货架|流利条货架 压入式货架 移动式货架|密集架 模具货架 抽屉式货架 汽车4S店货架 汽配库货架 自动化立体仓库货架 托盘|钢托盘|钢制托盘 托盘|塑料托盘 托盘|塑料托盘 托盘|塑料托盘 仓储笼|仓库笼|折叠式仓储笼 手推车|铁板手推车 手推车|静音手推车 置物架|工业置物架|家用置物架 堆垛架|巧固架 挂板架|物料整理架 登高车 物流台车|载物台车 料箱|钢制料箱 搬运车|手动液压托盘搬运车|电动托盘搬运车 堆高机|堆垛机|手动堆高机|电动堆高机 叉车|电动叉车|内燃叉车|叉车厂 货架 货架 仓储货架 仓储货架 仓库货架 仓库货架 货架厂 货架厂 货架公司 货架公司 托盘 钢托盘 铁托盘 钢制托盘 塑料托盘 仓储笼 仓库笼 折叠式仓储笼 折叠仓储笼 仓储货架|仓库货架|库房货架 南京货架|横梁式货架|中型货架 钢托盘|塑料托盘|纸托盘 仓储笼|仓库笼|折叠式仓储笼 钢制料箱|工具柜|工作台 手动液压托盘搬运车|手动液压堆高车 仓库货架|中量A型货架 仓储货架|横梁式货架|货位式货架 托盘|塑料托盘|钢制托盘|纸托盘 仓储笼|仓库笼|折叠式仓储笼|蝴蝶笼|储物笼 手动液压托盘搬运车|手动液压堆高车 仓库货架|中量A型货架 仓储货架|横梁式货架|货位式货架 托盘|塑料托盘|钢制托盘|纸托盘 仓储笼|折叠式仓储笼|仓库笼|蝴蝶笼|储物笼 手动液压托盘搬运车|手动液压堆高车 仓储货架|仓库货架|库房货架 南京货架|中型货架|横梁式货架 钢托盘|钢制托盘|塑料托盘|纸托盘 仓储笼|仓库笼|折叠式仓储笼 钢制料箱|工具柜|工作台 手动液压托盘搬运车|手动液压堆高车 仓库货架|中量A型货架 仓储货架|中量B型货架 库房货架|横梁式货架|货位式货架 钢托盘|钢制托盘|铁托盘|栈板 托盘|塑料托盘|栈板 纸托盘|栈板 仓储笼|仓库笼|折叠式仓储笼|蝴蝶笼|储物笼 钢制料箱|钢制周转箱|网格式料箱 搬运车|手动液压托盘搬运车|电动托盘搬运车 仓库货架|中量A型货架 仓储货架|中量B型货架 库房货架|横梁式货架|货位式货架 钢托盘|钢制托盘|铁托盘|栈板 塑料托盘|塑料栈板 纸托盘|栈板 仓储笼|仓库笼|折叠式仓储笼|蝴蝶笼|储物笼 钢制料箱|钢质周转箱|网格式料箱 手动液压托盘搬运车|液压搬运车 仓储货架|>仓库货架|库房货架 南京货架|中型货架|横梁式货架 钢托盘|钢制托盘|塑料托盘|纸托盘 仓储笼|仓库笼|折叠式仓储笼 钢制料箱|工具柜|工作台 手动液压托盘搬运车|手动液压堆高车 仓库货架|中量A型货架 仓储货架|中量B型货架 库房货架|横梁式货架|货位式货架 钢托盘|钢制托盘|铁托盘|栈板 塑料托盘|塑料栈板 纸托盘|栈板 仓储笼|仓库笼|折叠式仓储笼|蝴蝶笼|储物笼 钢制料箱|钢质周转箱|网格式料箱 手动液压托盘搬运车|托盘搬运车 货架|仓储货架|仓库货架|库房货架 南京货架|上海货架|北京货架 轻型货架|中型货架|搁板式货架 重型货架|横梁式货架|托盘式货架 托盘|木托盘|纸托盘|木塑托盘 托盘|钢托盘|塑料托盘|钢制托盘 仓储笼|仓库笼|折叠式仓储笼 手推车|静音手推车|铁板手推车 物料架|整理架|挂板架 料箱|钢制料箱|钢制周转箱|网格式料箱 手动液压托盘搬运车|电动托盘搬运车 手动液压堆高车|半电动堆高车|手动叉车 塑料周转箱|物流箱|塑料化工桶|塑料卡板箱 工具柜|上海工具柜|南京工具柜|抽屉柜 工作台|工作桌|南京工作台|上海工作台 刀具车|刀具柜|刀具架|刀具座 货架 货架厂 货架公司 仓储货架 仓库货架 库房货架 南京货架 上海货架 托盘 钢托盘 钢制托盘 货架|轻量型货架|角钢货架 货架|中量型货架|次重型货架 货位式货架|横梁式货架|重量型货架 仓储货架|阁楼式货架|钢平台 仓储货架|悬臂式货架 仓储货架|贯通式货架|通廊式货架|驶入式货架 仓库货架|库房货架|抽屉式货架|模具货架 仓库货架|库房货架|汽车4S店货架|汽配库货架 货架厂|货架公司|南京货架|上海货架|无锡货架|苏州货架 货架厂|货架公司|北京货架|天津货架|沈阳货架|大连货架 货架厂|货架公司|广州货架|深圳货架|杭州货架 托盘|钢托盘|钢制托盘 托盘|塑料托盘 仓储笼|仓库笼|折叠式仓储笼 置物架|多功能置物架|卫浴置物架 料箱|钢制料箱|钢制周转箱 手动液压托盘搬运车|不锈钢托盘搬运车|电动托盘搬运车 手动液压堆高车|半电动堆高车|电动堆高车|堆垛车 货架 仓储货架 仓库货架 货架厂 货架公司 托盘 钢托盘 铁托盘 钢制托盘 塑料托盘 仓储笼 仓库笼 折叠式仓储笼 折叠仓储笼 货架 货架 货架 仓储货架 仓储货架 仓储货架 仓库货架 仓库货架 货架厂 货架厂 货架公司 货架公司 托盘 钢托盘 铁托盘 钢制托盘 塑料托盘 仓储笼 仓库笼 折叠式仓储笼 货架 货架 货架 仓储货架 仓储货架 仓储货架 仓库货架 仓库货架 仓库货架 货架厂 货架厂 货架厂 货架公司 货架公司 货架公司 托盘 钢托盘 铁托盘 钢制托盘 塑料托盘 仓储笼 仓库笼 折叠式仓储笼 折叠仓储笼 托盘 塑料托盘 钢托盘 钢制托盘 铁托盘 货架厂 仓储笼 仓库笼 折叠式仓储笼 折叠仓储笼 南京货架 货架公司 货架厂 仓库货架 仓储货架 货架 货架

6:08 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home