A Tale of Failure, Pitches, and Hooks

“You wrote a book?” asked the interested stranger.

“Sure did,” I said, my mind turning to all of the hours I spent tapping out words on my keyboard. The dream that I had made into reality. It was done. I had done it. And then, as I reminisced, the stranger asked a question.

“What is it about?”

I froze. I was not prepared for this question.

“Uh, a high-schooler… he, uh, is attacked by otherworldly demon-god things, and he learns… no, that’s a spoiler, um…”

“Never mind.”

If I were to talk to someone about the first book I ever wrote, the above might happen. What Lies In Me is actually about demons, chasing a teenage boy with a bounty on his head. The reason for this is that he has inherited the blood of a very powerful demon, and that blood is the key to permanently killing demons. Meh, still doesn’t sound good, and this time I just spoiled over half of the book’s mysteries.

I’ll get to the point. If you want to pitch a book, make a book you can pitch.

With that first book, I set up the mystical world as a mystery. Some action happens early on, but the connection between the random elements is a mystery that defines the story. It isn’t the worst idea for a setup, but it has a fair problem. The pitch is not interesting. I couldn’t make it interesting without revealing twists from the climax of the book, because that’s where the setup comes from.

Don’t rely entirely on your climax for the ‘cool’ factor of your book.

When I started What Lies In Me, I didn’t even have an ending climax in mind, and I didn’t even know that the attackers were demons. I had no lore, nothing to hook with or set up with. The main character is attacked by a snake made of ice. So what?

Nearly every book I have read introduces something amazing early on, something that can be used as the hook. This is a good practice.

For example: My three projects right now immediately introduce prophecies of death, a dead god and a timeless world, or a necromancer that uses evil to fight evil. All in the first chapter or two. I can try to hook with those things.

Think about your favorite books. Fantasy, thriller, mystery, romance, whatever. How long does it take for the book hook to snag you? How well defined is that hook?

Don’t imply your story hook. Don’t hold it off for later. Don’t make literally everything interesting in your book be a spoiler. You’ll hamstring yourself, and find yourself unable to describe the intricate web that you’ve created.

Like I did.

Or maybe I’m just bad at pitching.

See you around!

-Kyle Adams

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s