Saturday, 8 January 2011

A winner, hooks and another contest

Having put my scientifically proven eeny-meeny-miny-mo system into action, I can now tell you that Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance has been won by ....drum roll ... Serena!  (Serena, do you want to send me an email at with your mailing address, and I will put Kate's book in the post to you next week?)

Very sorry I don't have more copies to send to everyone else who 'fessed up on the characters' names.  I enjoyed hearing about them so much that now I want to know more about your stories.  How would you feel about telling me your main hooks now?  And you do have hooks, don't you?

A hook is a story element that tells the reader what kind of story they're going to get, and the hooks are usually highlighted on the cover.  For instance, you can tell from the title that Juggling Briefcase & Baby is going to feature a baby and an office setting, and the new RIVA cover picks that up with the baby shoes, the glimpse of teddy bear and the tie (although I have to say that Lex wouldn't be seen dead in a pink tie) 

Actually, this story also has a 'lovers reunited' hook, and a 'marriage of convenience' hook.  The latter is my favourite, as it's such a good way to force your hero and heroine into an intimate situation.  It doesn't mean they literally have to get married, but at some point in the story they have to pretend to be a couple. 

Other popular romance hooks include sheiks, royalty/aristocracy, exotic setting, cowboy, Christmas, pregnancy, blackmail, revenge, secret baby, city girl and so on.  

You don't have to have a hook (Last-Minute Proposal didn't, but look what a nothingy title it ended up with!) but if you do it will help when it comes to writing a synopsis and selling your book.  A hook is not the same as a conflict - which maybe we'll get to later! - but it's a shorthand way to tell the editor who reads your submission what kind of story yours is, and anything you can do to make her job easier is bound to stand you in good stead.

So, what's your hook?  Do satisfy my curiosity! I haven't got  such a good prize to offer this time, but I do have a spare copy of Convenient Engagements up for grabs.

This anthology, out now, is a re-release of the City Brides series, Fiancé Wanted Fast!, The Blind-Date Proposal and A Whirlwind Engagement, based around three girls sharing a house in London - and there are no prize for guessing the hook that links all three! 


  1. Hi Jessica,
    I'd love to play along, even though I don't necessarily need a prize for my efforts. I read the City Brides trilogy when it came out and loved it, especially The Blind Date Proposal. I love how you use hooks in your books in a way that seems natural.
    In my current project, I have forced proximity (reality cooking show) and lovers reunited. My last project was an engagement of convenience and a bad boy sheik.

  2. I'd love to read your Convenient Engagements. I'm working on a reunion story.

  3. Poor Lex has been forced into that pink tie! It makes me smile every time.

    My main WIP is a marriage of convenience but there's a couple of others so I have some blackmail and a Cinderella tale on the side :)

  4. Hi Jessica,
    Love the way you write.
    I'm currently working on a story with an Italian billionaire and an innocent author heroine, and it shows in the title...'Going all the way with the Italian'

  5. Mine is a sheikh story and a boardroom rivals story.

  6. Sheikhs, billionaires, blackmail, bad boys ... these all sound Presents/Modern stories to me, and all very intriguing - although Jill's reality cooking programme has a definite touch of RIVA about it!

    Any kind of forced proximity is good, I think. It makes your job so much easier when you've got your characters in one place and are keeping them there. Too tempting to get involved in a lot of plot and moving from A to B otherwise.

    Reunions are effective too because you've got all those memories swirling around to ratchet up the tension.

    Ruchita, the classic rule is 'never say never' but I'd be wary of an author heroine (but not of an Italian billionaire!) Traditionally readers don't like them - perhaps because of confusion between author and heroine. Would you consider giving your heroine a different job?

    Combining a sheikh and a boardroom makes for an interesting twist, Ros - I was intrigued by that. Twists are the way to go!

    And I love the idea of blackmail and a Cinderella theme on the side, Lacey! You gave me a laugh on a wet Monday morning ... although that's not to say they're not great hooks, I hasten to add.

  7. LOL! I'm here to entertain ;) It's raining here too!

    One of my favorite older M&Bs had an author heroine with writer's block and a hero editor :) It's a shame readers don't traditionally like a writer heroine.

  8. Now, that sounds like a heroine I could identify with!

  9. My hook is a forced dating scenario as a publicity stunt for a movie. Lots of Hollywood glamour!

  10. Oooh ooh ooh! I won! Thanks for letting me know, Nas! Sorry for not getting in touch sooner, Jessica. We celebrated my twin sons 21st birthday on Saturday! So it was a busy time. I sent an email this morning (Melbourne time) with my details.

    (a very excited) Serena