1. ArindaGreen

    ArindaGreen New Member

    Oct 2, 2015
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    Query Letter Hook help?

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by ArindaGreen, Oct 2, 2015.

    I'm trying to write a good query letter for my memoir/narrative. plot summary: girl is at home, girl makes peace with home, girl moves away, girl's friend dies in horrible freak accident.
    I've written a few but honestly can't tell which is good or what else to do, any help is appreciated!

    Imperfectionist, oil painter, Italian marble sculptor, deer-whisperer, world traveler, thrift store film photographer: Arinda Green returns home from years abroad to her collapsing family in Wisconsin for three weeks before moving away forever. She never expected how fast her life would change, when a young artist is flying through life, will tragedy further the flight in her?

    When Arinda Green, a young traveling imperfectionist, returns home from a years away and abroad, she decides to write about her three weeks with her dysfunctional family before she moves away forever. How fast does a life change? When a young artist is flying through life, will tragedy further the flight in her?
  2. Ninan Tan

    Ninan Tan New Member

    Oct 3, 2015
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    They all read somewhat wordy and confusing. For a while I thought you were talking about an artist that came into your life until I realized (I think) that you were referring to yourself. The questions in the end are incredibly confusing. Here is how I would do it:

    Arinda Green is leaving her hometown and never coming back. (makes you ask the question, why?) After all, she's not leaving much behind her but her dysfunctional family and years of painful memories.

    That's all I got for your so far because I actually can't understand much of the second half. The questions you ask don't tell me anything about the book. You need to be more specific. "How fast does life change." - where are you going, what is changing?. "Will tragedy further the flight in her?" First of all, I'm interpreting "flight" as fleeing, or running away so I don't think it's the right word to use here since the first one seems to be used poetically/positively.

    Hope this helps!
  3. Jeff Countryman

    Jeff Countryman Living the dream

    Aug 28, 2015
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    In no conceivable way am I an authority on the subject of hooks (especially my own), but just the word "hook" suggests catching and holding something. In this case, you want to catch and hold a publisher's interest. You haven't provided much information to work with and the plot summary feels mundane to me but what really caught my eye (and is possibly your hook) was the words 'horrible freak accident'. Being a memoir, you may not be comfortable with that. However, freak accidents make the news daily and people sit up and take notice. Your reaction to the horrible freak accident obviously plays a huge role in your memoir and you may want to play that up (ie my best friend died when a sudden gust of wind blew him off the cliff into the rocks eighty feet below and now I have a phobia about wind.).

    This line is too much information: "Imperfectionist, oil painter, Italian marble sculptor, deer-whisperer, world traveler, thrift store film photographer:". You could sum it up with something like - "A free-spirited artisan . . . ".

    Dysfunctional families are so commonplace these days as to be boring and over-done. It doesn't suggest anything new. Try a new way of saying the same thing such as 'a quirky family' or something to contrast the idea of a free-spirited artisan such as "a stoic, quirky family" (suggesting the conflict that the reader will learn about).

    I think ending the hook with a question is an automatic toss in the garbage. It's far too ambiguous to be enticing and likely won't make anyone open the cover. Instead, try to give a hint of the ending without giving it away. In a sense, you want to hook the publisher with a beginning, a middle, and an end (limit each to 2 sharp, crisp, clear, concise, intriguing sentences).

    Don't worry, though. We all have trouble coming up with hooks! You raise a good question.

  4. Flying Geese

    Flying Geese Senior Member

    Aug 12, 2013
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    You need to take something from the story -- something you may be wanting to hold back -- and reveal it in the synopsis. You don't have to reveal the entire thing. But it helps if it's something related to the climax of the story or the premise of why you told the story to begin with.

    In what you wrote above, you are asking me, the reader/publisher a question. Don't get me wrong. You can totally ask questions here, but they shouldn't be open-ended questions. It should be something with a yes, no, maybe style. Something with 5 or less possibilities, I say. If your question is too open-ended then I will wonder if your book is going to use a cheap plotline, where you deviate from your own setup to bring things to a conclusion. Hope that makes sense.

    Here's a couple examples:

    Good hook: Will Jackie find her grandfather's killer and solve the case?
    Vague hook: What will happen when Jackie becomes a detective?

    The first one leaves plenty of room for you to make your own assumptions, but you know right off the bat if you want to read this or not. And it has a yes or no question.

    Good hook: To save his world from total annihilation, Alex must defy the will of the gods themselves.
    Vague hook: What will Alex do when his world is in trouble?

    The first one is very open-ended, but still good. That's because it gives you a dilemma, which is specific enough to care about. Like why does defying the will of the gods matter, and what exactly is their will?
  5. Jackie B

    Jackie B New Member

    Oct 10, 2015
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    I am new here and I cannot get my own hook straight, so I might not be the best person to advice. Both options have good points and bad points. I like your term imperfectionist.

    I would begin with something like
    Andrea Green, Jill of all trades and imperfectionist in everyone of them, is back at home for a flying visit. She was hoping for a quiet time in a familiar place. But life has other plans.

    Something like that.
  6. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Keep writing. Contributor

    May 18, 2015
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    Like the idea behind this;
    A young traveling imperfectionist returns home to her dysfunctional family after years abroad. Will tragedy further the flight in her, or will three weeks be enough to change a life? When a young artist, oil painter, Italian marble sculptor, deer-whisperer, world traveler, and thrift store film photographer is flying through life, she decides to write."

    Good luck.
    (if you use my idea, I totally want a shoutout)

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