21. First Impressions

Photo by Patrick Tomasso; Quote by Charles de Lint

Many moons ago when I wrote my first novel and went to a writer’s conference to try to get picked up by an agent, I had to come up with a pitch to sell it. At the time, I thought that meant a summary of my work, and so I came up with this paragraph summary and told it to a few agents.

I did not get any follow-ups or returns for my inquiries.

What I didn’t understand is that a pitch is how an elevator ride is supposed to be: quick. It also needs to be attention grabbing and get the other person hooked on the concept, eager to know more.

Here are two examples of some great hooks I have read over the years:

“The hammer rang against the nail, piercing skin, cutting vessels. It rang against the nail, piercing muscle, chipping bone. It rang against the nail, anchoring arm to rough-hewn wood. It rang. It rang. It rang.” –The Visitation by Frank Peretti

 “Amanda Green died for a cigarette.”—Body Bags by Christopher Golden.

Now I strive to make things simple, grabby, and get people to keep my business card when I hand it to them, or keep reading my stories. Not everyone will be interested; the goal is to get most people interested, and thus, more sales, and ultimately, more money. It’s the opening act, and you want people to stay for the show.

Here is an opening sequence from one of my stories in Black Cat Scribbles Vol. 1:

“There is a creature that watches me shower. It has one large blood red eye with no eyelashes and five legs. It looks like a mutated spider that has seen hard times. The creature stares at me with the intensity of a predator hunting its prey, yet it hangs motionless, suspended by webbing from the ceiling.” –Sunday

Check out Black Cat Scribbles Vol. 1 at http://www.BlackCatScribbles.com.

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