IN 25 WORDS OR LESS by Joanne Guidoccio

After completing my novel, I attended a number of workshops where the facilitators stressed the importance of a hook or logline.

What is a hook/logline?

Very simply, it is a concise sentence that answers the question: What is your novel about? An effective logline provides enough interest to prolong the conversation with a prospective agent or publisher, encourages readers to pick up the book, and creates tweetable buzz.

At first, I found it a daunting task. How could I possibly condense 69,000 words into 25 words or less?

I started by looking at the some of the great hooks in literature and cinema:

A man goes into the jungle to search for a missing general. (Heart of Darkness)

A reclusive chocolateer opens up his factory to the lucky children who find golden tickets. (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

A sea captain forces his crew to search for an elusive white whale. (Moby Dick)

A train engine thinks it can make it up a hill. (The Little Engine That Could)

A young FBI cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims. (The Silence of the Lambs)

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. (The Shawshank Redemption)

Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny, eludes him. (Forrest Gump)

And my all time favorite…

Film Director James Cameron pitched his idea for the three-hour epic in just six words:
Romeo and Juliet on the Titanic.

My hook

A brunette lottery winner never has an alibi when dead blondes turn up in Dumpsters near her favorite haunts. (A Season for Killing Blondes)

Do you have a hook for your novel or WIP? 


Hours before the opening of her career counseling practice, Gilda Greco discovers the dead body of golden girl Carrie Ann Godfrey, neatly arranged in the dumpster outside her office. Gilda’s life and budding career are stalled as Detective Carlo Fantin, her former high school crush, conducts the investigation.

When three more dead blondes turn up all brutally strangled and deposited near Gilda’s favorite haunts, she is pegged as a prime suspect for the murders. Frustrated by Carlo’s chilly detective persona and the mean girl antics of Carrie Ann’s meddling relatives, Gilda decides to launch her own investigation. She discovers a gaggle of suspects, among them a yoga instructor in need of anger management training, a lecherous photographer, and fourteen ex-boyfriends.

As the puzzle pieces fall into place, shocking revelations emerge, forcing Gilda to confront the envy and deceit she has long overlooked.


Buy Links

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In 2008, Joanne took advantage of early retirement and decided to launch a second career that would tap into her creative side and utilize her well-honed organizational skills. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes paranormal romance, cozy mysteries, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Where to find Joanne...








Thanks for hosting me, Marilyn :)
Peggy Jaeger said…
The hardest part of the job for me is the blurb!!! Joanne, you make it look easy!. Loved the book.
Larry and I do an interactive workshop on this very subject. Once the writers understand the goal, they usually come up with something effective.
Billie Johnson said…
This is great advice....I am always so tickled when an author submits a short blurb along with his gives us something to grab and plug into countless situations where we promote. Time constraints being what they are, I just cannot stop and do the writing I move on and that opportunity for promo is lost. So the wise and savvy author will invest the time and effort into crating a 'blurbette', IMO!!
Hi Peggy, Good to see you here. Blurbs are challenging! According to the experts, we should come up with our loglines, blurbs and synopses before starting to write. I've never been able to do that. :)
Hi Lorna, I agree! In the workshops I've attended, the writers have groaned at the thought of condensing a novel into 25 words. But it is doable. Thanks for dropping by. :)
Hi Billie, I like the idea of writing "blurbettes"...sounds like fun and less intimidating than loglines. Whatever term is used, brevity is key. Thanks for dropping by. :)
Hebby Roman said…
Joanne, this is a great subject, as I think blurbs and taglines are probably some of the hardest things we write as authors. Loved your examples, really good. Taglines are especially popular now because so many authors tweet. Excellent subject!
Jackie Houchin said…
I love your "pitch" examples (blurbs) Oh, that we all could condense our stories into that format. IF we did it BEFORE we wrote them... it would be a theme to follow, and perhaps easier to keep on track.
Thanks for the info, and for hosting her, Marilyn.
Hi Hebby, Good to see you here. At one workshop, we had to create tweets for our loglines. An excellent exercise and helpful, especially if we plan to contact agents and publishers via Twitter. :)
Hi Jackie, I agree that it would be helpful to write the loglines and blurbs first. I've tried but ended up revising the loglines later. Maybe not such a bad thing...Thanks for dropping by. :)
vicki batman said…
Hi, Joanne! I love loglines and blurbs. Some friends and I often toss each others around to get just the perfect one. I'm not good about writing them before hand, tho. Many hugs.
Hi Vicki, Good to see you here! Brainstorming with other writers definitely helps with creating loglines and blurbs. But I can't recall ever going through the process before writing the books. :)
Mary Morgan said…
Great tips, Joanne! I struggle with blurbs, though, my last one was a smashing success. My editor didn't even touch a word. Happy Holidays!
Hi Mary, Congrats on a smashing blurb! Isn't it great when that logline or blurb finally comes together? Thanks for dropping by. :)
my blog said…
Great info! This blog post is definitely a keeper. Struggling with the log line as we speak. Many thanks for your insight. Happy Holidays.
You're very welcome. Good luck with the logline and best wishes for the season. :)

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