Are we all settled, now? It seems we were interrupted yesterday, and we never finished our discussion on hooks. There’s a lot more to them than just snagging attention. Since this little study is going to be a very careful look at the elements, let’s not rush things by speeding on to the next subject when we haven’t thoroughly explored the first one. We haven’t even discovered the secret part, yet. Where did we leave off?
"I left off wondering how the Professor ever came up with the idea that putting a hole in someone’s best pair of slacks was an appropriate example of a hook! The only thing I got out of that was irritated."
"There’s nothing pleasant about a hook, my dear. Their sole purpose is sinister. They are meant to capture and hold, and unless cleverly disguised, even the stupidest of creatures steer clear of them."
"I think the Professor has a valid point, Lilly. A poorly embedded hook – in the literary world -- is more apt to cause resentment than interest. Nobody likes to be taken in. It’s rather like those advertisements for free things that have hidden purchases or fees attached."
"I hate those."
"Most people do."
"If you use a hook to draw someone into a story, it better make sense. It has to be a legitimate part of the whole."
"It has to have a line attached to it, if you ask me. Any hook without a line is worthless."
"I agree. A hook should always lead somewhere. It has to be connected to the next thing, and the next, and so on."
"End of the chapter cliffhangers. Do you think every chapter should end in such a way, Ann? Or is there something to be said for a bit of a change of pace."
"I think the arch enemy of suspense is a change of pace. Readers are always looking for a good place to stop. Well, that’s one thing I don’t think you should ever give them. The only place for one of those is at the end. But once, again, if there are any contrivances showing, you’re done for."
"Fiction is nothing but contrivances. Good fiction just makes you forget it. Willing suspension of disbelief and all that. Did you bring any of those chocolate things, today, Ann?"
"After yesterday? Certainly not. I brought carrots."
"Now let’s scrutinize Lilly’s opening. You have promised us the devil, Lilly – is he going to show up on the scene eventually?"
"I’ll say he is."
"Is this another one of those war between good and evil themes? Thery’re getting tiresome, if you ask me. Every time you turn around another one shows up on the shelves. And these days, it’s the devil that mostly ends up on top."
"All of life is a war between good and evil, Professor. But that falls more under the heading of a theme, I should think. Which is another element that should be undetectable. Heard but not seen, you might say. Actually, this is sort of a how-to manual on survival."
"A how-to manual – your ladies trapped in the wine cellar book?"
"Certainly. It’s something everyone is concerned about lately. Myself included."
"Universal, you mean. Something we can all relate to. Which things also provide the best hooks: a car being erratically driven pulling into a gas station at night, disobedient children, a strange noise…"
"That gives me an idea! I move we postpone the rest of this discussion until tomorrow."
"Fine by me. I left the cousins experimenting with the Bunsen burner back at the lab."
"Oh, good lord, Professor!"
"They could burn the whole place down!"
"Not really, ladies. Just an example of a good universal hook. But I do need to be getting back."
"He’s impossible, lately!"
What’s happening on the farm today: We are having an ice storm that is predicted to last through the weekend. Time to fill every available container with water, bring in extra firewood, and get out the kerosene lamps for when the electricity goes out. As it invariably does during such times. I think there should be rebates from the electric company when that happens but, so far, the CEO hasn’t answered any of my emails about it.
Habit status: Day 4 of round 2 (gaining focus)