Thursday, January 21, 2010

By Hook and By Crook

Ron's post about hooks intrigues me. I've never been good at it; my mother, who has spent much of my writing career convinced I could get on Oprah if only I would write the right book, suggested I go to sleep at night thinking, Hook Hook Hook. All this has done is give me nightmares.

There's something about a beautiful premise, though--it can be a work of art in itself. And an opening line that contains the promise of that premise...well, now, I bet those writers have happy moms.

As Ron's pick-up-line analogy implies, it's a fine line between intriguing and slutty. Here's a couple openers I like (with apologies for the wonky formatting, but I've spent a half hour trying to make it look right and Blogger just won't let me, clearly as punishment for not listening to my mother):

I am in love with Mr. Lindstrom, my science teacher. I found out where he lives and every night I perch on a tree outside his bedroom window and watch him sleep. He sleeps in his underwear: Fruit of the Loom, size 34.

-Owl in Love, Patrice Kindl

First thing I did was, I stole a body. I could have made my own, but I wasn't in an artistic frame of mind.
-Repossessed, A.M. Jenkins

The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say. About anything.
"Need a poo, Todd."
"Shut up, Manchee."
"Poo. Poo. Todd."
-The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness



  1. Thanks for mentioning Owl in Love! It's such a great book. More people should know about it.

    Don't have an opening line to share, but a couple of lines from a poem I read yesterday have hooked into me and won't let go. The poem is "God's Stopwatch" by Jim Daniels, and it has a lot of Catholic imagery, but this image is the most divine:

    When I held Patty's sweaty hand
    an invisible host melted between us.

  2. "The break room microwave is dead to begin with."

  3. Now get this: there's a boy in Jackson so rich that when he finished high school, his daddy bought him a brand-new car. At least that's what I heard. In my family, we don't have that kind of money, but my uncle gives a whole dollar to any Pickett who graduates Acorn Elementary School. It's tradition.
    --A Thousand Never Evers, by Shana Burg

    Of all the kids in the seventh grade at Camillo Junior High, there was one kid that Mrs. Baker hated with heat whiter than the sun.
    And let me tell you, it wasn't for anything I'd done.
    --Wednesday Wars,by Gary Schmidt

    And this classic:

    "Where's Papa going with that ax?"
    --Charlotte's Web, by E. B. White

  4. Well, who knew! I either want to read or re-read all those books!

    I was also thinking about The Hook in vaudeville: if you were a crummy singer or dancer, a long cane-like instrument came out of the wings, got you by the arm or the neck and tugged you off stage.

    i think I'd prefer that to some of he rejection letters I've received. There the pain never stops.


  5. My mother once suggested I should "write one of those Harry Potter books. Those seem to do well." Hmmm....