How to Write a Logline / Hook Line

Posted June 14th, 2013 in Uncategorized / 20 comments

Today we will be talking about Hook Lines / Loglines. It’s a very important thing to have ready when pitching your novel to anyone, be it a publisher or potential readers.

So let’s start out with the difference between a logline and a hook line.

Hook Line: One or two sentence summary of your novel that will hook someone into wanting to read your book.

Logline: A one line (or extremely short)summary of a script or screenplay (story).

You will fined different definitions of these concepts all over the internet, but this is the best way I would describe them after talking with other authors. Loglines are more often seen in the film industry but it is often interchangeable with hook line, which I personally think is more used in writing. But they are basically the same concept. I’ll be using hook line in this post since that’s how I learned the concept.

A hook line is like an elevator pitch. If you got into an elevator with a publisher and she asked you what your novel was about, you would whip out your memorized hook line. Because in a hook line you have the core-concept of your book in as few words as possible. Plus, without it, you might just ramble on and on about your book without realizing it. Publishers often don’t have the time to hear the breakdown of the main plot points, characters, and so on. They want a teaser. They want to know the gist of your novel in a few seconds so they know if its marketable and if it’s interesting on the spot.

Another great use for your hook line is using it for the first sentence of your query letter.

So let’s get down to the elements of a hook line:

Character: Who is your main character/hero and what is his/her main goal?

Conflict: This could be the villain or what is keeping your main character from his/her goal.

Distinction: What makes your novel unique. How is it different from the rest?

Setting: Make sure the setting (or at least the genre) is obvious.

Action: Make sure your hook line promises excitement and action.

It’s actually easier than it looks. I wrote my hook line without knowing what should go in one when put on the spot at a writing event. I ended up only needing to add my setting, but all the rest of the elements came out naturally as I wrote my hook line.

Here are two hook lines for the urban fantasy novel I am working on called Devoured by Affliction:

My Long Hook Line: After spending 14 hours at the hands of a serial killer vampire, trained sociopath, Ashlyn Evans, starts to feel emotions for the first time. Now, while chasing after a copycat killer taunting her with a string of dead bodies, Ashlyn’s merciless training begins to falter in a supernatural LA where weakness means death.

Short Hook Line: A trained sociopath’s hellish experience under a serial killer vampire’s knife still haunts her as she tries to catch the copycat killer who taunts with a string of dead bodies scattered throughout LA.

First, let me say, my hook lines still needs work. The first one is too long and the second doesn’t have the same pizazz as the first. I just wanted to show you how easy you can write a hook line without even knowing what should be in one. I wrote both of these in 2 minutes.

So let’s make sure I covered the bases for both hook lines. I mentioned my main character: Ashlyn Evans / trained sociopath. Her goal is to find the copycat killer. The villain is the copycat killer. The conflict is Ashlyn losing her edge/training or being haunted by her hellish experience. My novel is unique because it involves a serial killer vampire and a trained sociopath for a hero. I made the setting obvious by mentioning LA and the genre is easily discerned: urban fantasy / paranormal. Action seems to be pretty much guaranteed with all the killing and torture mentioned. LOL. Anyways, both hook lines cover all the elements that a hook line needs.

So my suggestion is to just go for it. Don’t let the hook line “rules” stop you. Just sit down, think about the core concept of your novel and write it down in a pleasing way. Then come back and look at the guidelines and add the elements that need to be added and tweak it until you’re satisfied.

Also, I’ve been told that it might be best to not use the characters names in a hook line. I ignored that suggestion for my first hook line. I have noticed that a lot of hook lines follow the rule of no names though. Also, be careful of run-on sentences. Trying to summarize your whole book in one or two sentences may lead you to add way too much information to one sentence. I might have done that with the second line of my first hook line.

I really hope I gave you a little insight on what a hook line needs to catch anyone’s attention, as well as what will sell your book.

I hope you enjoyed what I had to offer and never hesitate to ask me questions through the comments section or my email: readingurbanfantasy(AT)yahoo(DOT)com or anywhere you can find me.

Citation: This information is from a collaboration of a writing event Brenda Hill hosed and the website The Business of Writing



20 Responses to “How to Write a Logline / Hook Line”

  1. Brandi Kosiner

    Great post, and I agree, you can get me at the first line or turn me off. But from the other side, I also know that it is so hard to get it perfect as an author.

  2. Jaclyn Canada

    I also agree that this is so important. I will interject that I don’t like it from a reader’s standpoint if something is ‘misrepresented’ and not actually in the book or only barely in the book but made to look like a large plot-point by these sentences. Just be upfront and honest while making it attractive to readers. I really enjoy getting a glimpse into your book πŸ˜€ Thank you so much for sharing! Jaclyn @ JC’s Book Haven.

  3. Elisa

    Oh I like this post! Learn a little lingo, learn about your book – which sounds good! My two cents – try to keep “supernatural LA” in the hook, it piqued my interest. πŸ™‚

    • Jennifer Bielman

      Thanks. It helps to get others perspectives because I never would have thought supernatural LA would catch anyone’s eyes. I will make sure to keep it.

  4. Bellas Bookshelf

    This was a good post. It not only helps authors it can also help those of us that are writing reviews. Its important to have a “hook line” in our reviews too.
    Thank you for this. I am always on the lookout for any posts about writing techniques because I’d love to hone my skills and do it (write reviews/write in general) correctly.
    BTW is the hook line about a book you are writing? It sounds awesome & I hoppe to read more about it soon!

    • Jennifer Bielman

      So very true. I didn’t think of it but yes, hook lines are important in reviews as well.

      Yes, that hook line is for my book. Not sure when it will ever be done. Seems like it is always a work in progress. lol

  5. deborahjay

    Good advice, thanks for sharing.
    It’s a tricky skill for novelists who are used to writing without word constraint, to have to sum up in such a concise manner, but as we increasingly become our own publicists, a very necessary one!

  6. Ashley

    Great post! You hit on some awesome points and I think this will really help some other aspiring authors! I really like your longer hook line! Ashlyn Evans totally sounds like my name! LOL! Maybe I’m secretly a sociopath. πŸ˜€

    • Jennifer Bielman

      I know. I thought about that after I met you. I picked Ashlyn from a book I can’t even remember the name of anymore, but I liked it because you could call her Ash for short, like the movie Evil Dead and Evans is the last name of my best friend from England.

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