by Jemi Fraser
After my last post on Query No Nos, I had several people ask me about query hooks so I thought I'd focus on that today.
The hook is the first line or short paragraph of your query. (Some agents like to have the 'business' paragraph up front, but I'm not talking about that bit.) The hook's job is to make the agent HAVE to read on. From reading agent blogs and Twitter comments, it seems to me that most agents decide within a few seconds whether or not to read the entire query. That's not a lot of time, so make your hook sparkle!
Include your main character's name (and age if your story is YA or MG).
Use active verbs, especially the first verb of the query.
Stay in chronological order. Don't give away a key point in the hook then backtrack to build to it - way too confusing!
Showcase what's unique about your story.
Keep it short. Long convoluted sentences make for slow reading and that's the last thing you want.
Start with your novel's title - way too tempting to describe the story if you say MY TITLE is... Pretty soon you'll be telling all over the place.
Use the words 'about' or 'is the story of' or 'follows the adventures of'. Those are sure signs of telling!
Be generic. Make sure something about your hook is unique and that your hook can't match a dozen different stories.
As with everything else in writing, there are no ironclad rules that can never be broken and that holds true for these suggestions. There are always brilliant writers out there who can go against all the 'rules' and make it work!
Do you have any suggestions to add? In your opinion, what makes a good query hook?
Jemi Fraser is an aspiring author of contemporary romance. She blogs and tweets while searching for those HEAs.