The hook is not enough.

by Gina Linko


I'm going to speak at a school today about the writing process, and I was revising my Powerpoint Presentation, when I added a new slide.  It said quite simply:  

The hook is not enough.  

I think this is excellent advice for all of us writers while we have that gorgeous, new idea floating around in our heads (my precious!), while we are brainstorming and researching and taking notes on napkins, scratch paper, and the stray index card.   

In my talks with students, I often will ask them to boil down their favorite book or movie into seven words or less.  I usually get things like: 

Boys finds out he is a wizard.

Girl visits over the rainbow.

And that is where I realized I needed a new slide.  This is not enough.  This is the HOOK, and it is good.  It is needed, but what is the conflict?  What does that character want or need?  

Because once you have what it is the character NEEDS (or thinks she needs), then you have not only your conflict, but you have your plot.  Because all your plot really is, is your character trying desperately to get what she needs.  And, of course, failing over and over, at first.  The plot is the ACTION that takes your character to her goal, eventually.  

I don't know.  I spend a lot of time as a writer, before I actually sit down to write, thinking of and perfecting THE HOOK.  But that, my friends, is only half the battle.  

The real meat of the story is this:  What does your character want?   

In INDIGO, Corrine has a sixth sense, the indigo touch.  There it is: THE HOOK.  But that's not enough.  What does she need/want?  Now there is the story.