Hook, Line, and Clincher

 by Charlotte Bennardo

(Yes, I know that's not how the saying goes. In an author's world, there is no good connotation for 'sinker'.)

Photo by Maël BALLAND : https://www.pexels.com/photo/boy-catching-fish-with-fishing-rod-3099187/

Our theme is 'hook', as in what's the hook in our story, that first idea that pulled you in as a writer, and would hopefully pull in readers.

One project that is out on submission is my novel, The Excalibur Vow. The hook for this story started at the New York Renaissance Fair in Tuxedo Junction. (If you ever get the chance to go, do it, especially if you are a fantasy/steampunk/sorcery writer, Lots of inspiration.) As I rambled around, admiring all the costumes (yes, even some sci fi with swords, so it worked), I stopped to watch a blacksmith pounding out a sword blade. The glowing orange coals, the sweat he swiped off his forehead with his linen shirt sleeve, the ringing clang of the hammer on the raw steel fascinated me. I didn't know much about the process, but it drew me in, like it must have so many others over the century. 

What if... something went wrong (because that's where all good stories start) in the process? Not just a bad blade you can fix or scrap for later, but something... BIGGGER.

I don't know famous blacksmiths (Paul Revere was a silversmith), so while I was formulating a story around a blacksmith, notoriety wasn't on my side. However, if they worked for someone who was infamous... like.... say King Arthur? What would happen if a young bladesmith is called upon by King Arthur to sharpen Excalibur before what would be the final battle at Camlann where the king dies? How would that affect everything, from the king, the kingdom, the bladesmith? 

That was my hook: young bladesmith breaks the most infamous sword in all history/myth/legend and somehow must make amends. 

With all my books, I find that a single scene, like imagining the aftermath of this situation, to how would Victor Frankenstein's creature survive in current times (my novel The Frankenstein Vendetta, also out on sub), and even a faery, thrown out of the Realm for saving the life of a human art forger without her magic to fix her mistakes (yes, another novel out on sub, Ripples on Water) all start with the hook of one scene. I never see the whole book initially, just the hook and that makes my mind spin off in all directions and leaving me great leeway when crafting the storyline. 

Photo by j.mt_photography: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-forging-metal-3680094/

Photo by j.mt_photography: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-forging-metal-3680094/

Photo by Myicahel Tamburini: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photography-of-woman-holding-string-lights-1554740/

And just going out into the world, watching ordinary, surprising, or new situations always manages to create a hook for the next story. 


Charlotte writes MG, YA, NA, and adult novels in sci fi, fantasy, contemporary, and paranormal genres. She is the author of the award-winning middle grade Evolution Revolution trilogy, Simple Machines, Simple Plans, and Simple Lessons. She co-authored the YA novels Blonde OPS, Sirenz, and Sirenz Back in Fashion. She has two short stories in the Beware the Little White Rabbit (Alice through the Wormhole) and Scare Me to Sleep (Faces in the Wood) anthologies. Having finished her MFA, she's applying what she learned and is working on several children's and adult novels, along with some short stories. She lives in NJ but dreams of a Caribbean beach house. 


  1. I agree--this is a GREAT hook. And I really love the idea of starting a book with a single scene. Kind of a more detail-specific way to start with a what-if.


Post a Comment