It’s always struck me as an odd paradox that writers sometimes have the hardest time describing what their book is about. I’ve sat through any number of pitch sessions at writers conferences where a writer with good publishing credits will start to describe her book, and in no time flat she’ll lose me with an overly detailed plot summary or a tortured explanation of what she was trying to achieve.
Do you ever find yourself struggling to sum up your work in a compelling way? Well, then I strongly suggest you check out the writers’ blog Through the Tollbooth, where they’ve got an excellent two-part post on crafting a “hook.” Not only do they provide a persuasive argument for why all books need a hook, but they offer good, concrete steps for coming up with one. I have to admit, I’ve led a number of workshops with authors on how to shape a hook or pitch, and while I’ve been able to suggest ways to improve the pitch they’ve presented, I’ve never had a good answer for how to initiate the process. From here on out, the hundred words and three questions are definitely in my toolbox!
The one point I’d love for them to explore a bit more (and maybe this is a post to come) is where in the writing process do you start thinking about your hook. While the authors talk about how a hook can be a tool in the writing process, they seem to suggest it’s not where a book begins. And most of the focus seems to be on crafting a hook once the book is done.
So, I’ll put it to you: at what point in your writing do you start thinking about your pitch? At the start? Along the way? At the end?