Thursday, January 15, 2009

Are You Hooked?

Last night I read and responded to all of the Are You Hooked entries at Miss Snark’s First Victim and I feel that I need a disclaimer or at least to talk about it.

Let me preface this blog by saying that very few of the entries hooked me and that I was honest in my comments. Though I tried not to say anything that could be taken as rude, I also did not sugar coat my feedback.

Now, the reason I’m blogging about the experience is that I do feel bad for not being able to give many positive reviews. As I am a writer as well, I feel I need this disclaimer. Here it is:

-No, I do not think the writers who didn’t hook me are terrible writers.
-No, I didn’t enter anything to this one, because I was late (3 hours and it was full up!)
-No, I don’t think my openings are better than other people’s

Yes, I DO think that good, solid, reel-you-in openings are the hardest, let me repeat, hardest, part of writing a good novel. It’s what I struggle with the most and I’m sure what many other writers feel likewise. It is for this reason that I am completely honest when I read others’ openings.

Think about it… We’re each trying to write a opening that gets the reader into the world of the novel, makes them care about at least one character, and includes or at least hints at the coming conflict… all without info dumping or putting in anything unnecessary that will slow the reader down or cause them to lose interest.

We want to write fantasmic, stupendous, knock-your-socks-off and make you buy this book openings. Not okay, not good, not so-so… In a market as tough as the publishing industry, we need to create literary miracles with our openings. They are the first think a potential agent, a potential editor, a potential publisher, and (most importantly) a potential reader is going to see. I am firmly convinced that writing a great opener is the hardest part of producing a great book.

Now some authors might have this down to a science, or “in the bag” if you will, but how many of you have rewritten your prologue or chapter one? How many have rewritten it five times? Ten times? Twenty?

So yes, I may have been bluntly honest with my comments (and no, no one has attacked me for it, this is just my own nagging conscience), but I do that because I would want the same done to mine. In the hardest of tasks, I want the most truthful, hold-nothing-back criticism you can give me. Because that’s what it’ll take to get my ‘script into an agents hands, into a spine, and into the hands of a fellow lover-of-words. Hopefully thousands of them.

Whew, I got a little worked up over this. Didn’t expect to, but I did. There you have it. My disclaimer. Are you hooked?



Lady Glamis said...

Hooks ARE the hardest to write. My first chapters/prologues are really rough. I always rewrite them at least several times. With The Breakaway, I still haven't figured out the beginning yet. It just sucks.

I'll get to it soon when Monarch is finished.

And constructive criticism is always good. I am sure that the writers appreciate your comments. They'll grow from them instead of be puffed up. That's always better. ;)

AC said...

I am SO with you on this. And really, the constructive criticism comments are usually more helpful than just "I'm hooked!"

Although, I just started reading a novel that got amazing reviews and is supposed to be awesome, but the opening was incredibly boring. A good hook is usually important (particularly in some genres like YA), but maybe not every single time?