Monday, 27 August 2012

You're Gonna' Need A Sharper Hook

Most agents spend less than a few minutes reading a query. First impressions count, so you have to get their interest...and fast. That's why a good, concise query is essential.

But how do you make yours stand out from the hundreds the agent will read that week?

Hook 'em Danno!
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Easy. The first line should be your hook.

Think of the tag line from your favorite movie. It's the catchy slogan that will resonate with people and make them curious about the show. Your hook should do the same, ie: make the agent want to keep reading.

A good hook tells who the main character is (this can include age or personality description), grounds the genre, and ends with an unexpected twist.

I love to help with queries, but my passion is the hook. Post your 'hook' in my comments if you'd like feedback.

To get the ball rolling, here are two samples from my own writing.

At Willem's department store, none of the night security guards survive for long, but sixteen year old Daniel Gale doesn't scare that easily.

Hopeful heir, Edward Nichols travels to his family's English estate for the reading of his late Uncle's will only to find Craigmoore Manor has been turned into the scene of a murder investigation.

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Sunday, 19 August 2012

Five Literary Inventions I Wish Were Real

I'm convinced my life would be so much easier with the following:

1. The Invisibility Cloak from Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone.

Think of the sneaking around you can do! Be careful of eavesdropping though, sometimes you don't want to hear what others really think of you (especially Professor Snape).

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2. Pixie Dust from Peter Pan and Wendy.

Imagine having the ability to fly on your own, without aid from a broomstick or a magic carpet!
Rush hour traffic? Not for you. Late for a date? No worries. Need to get to class before the bell rings? Easy peasy.

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3. The Everlasting Gobstopper from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

It's candy. No explanation needed.

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4. The Blade from The Subtle Knife.

Slice through parallel universes and bend the space/time continuum? Sure, okay. Plus, I bet you can make a salad in seconds.

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5. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.

Okay, he's not technically an invention, but he is made up and totally awesome. And since it's my blog, I'll bloody well put him here if I want. And yes, I want Mr. Darcy.

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"You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you."


What other literary inventions would you like to have?

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Monday, 13 August 2012

Top Five Rejected Taglines From This Year's Blockbusters

Taglines are the industry's one sentence hook that entices audiences into the theatres. As a marketing took, they are highly effective and essential to any movie's campaign.

But for every unforgettable tagline there are at least a hundred that get rejected.

Here are my guesses at the top five rejected taglines from this year's blockbusters.

The Dark Knight Rises...It kicks The Fighter's ass.

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The Hunger Games...The perfect movie for anyone who wanted to read the book but never did.

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The Avengers...Scarlett Johansson in tight black leather? Check!

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The Amazing Spiderman...A kid becomes this amazing spider-man thing.

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Brave...A movie for your kid, but you have to buy a ticket, too.

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The Hobbit...A little guy with big responsibilities.

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Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sage Writing Advice from C.S.Lewis

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In a 1956 letter to a young fan, C.S. Lewis bestowed some advice to the elementary student about writing. And over fifty years later, his common sense approach to the craft is still inspiring.

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

4. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

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