Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday Talk-Time - Love That Hook!

This Thursday a big welcome to Abby Gaines, who sheds some light on some of her favourite story hooks!

Why is it that no matter how many category romance novels I read, there are some story hooks that never fail to engage me—no matter that they’ve been written about hundreds, maybe thousands, of times?

The word “hook” as it applies to popular fiction has had some bad press (I’m not even going to touch on the other kind of hooking... ). Some people think that if a story has a hook it must be identical to all the other stories with the same hook. For some reason, they only apply that judgment to romance novels—you could see three “serial killer” books in the mystery section of the bookstore, or a whole bunch of terrorism novels in the thriller section, but you won’t hear anyone saying they’re all the same.

But I digress.... I don’t care what people say, the fact is, if I like a particular hook, I’m likely to choose that kind of story over the other books that month.

Possibly my number one favorite hook is the marriage of convenience. I can’t explain why, I just love those stories. They’re not as common as they used to be, since these days it’s harder to find convincing reasons why people “must” get married, but that just makes them even more special. I sometimes lie awake at night trying to think up fresh, original reasons for a marriage of convenience. (I have a book out next January, The Groom Came Back, with a marriage of convenience hook that I’m particularly proud of...maybe I’ll get to blog here again nearer the time and tell you more about it!).

Other hooks that I like... I’m keen on fake engagements (a close neighbor of the marriage of convenience, I guess), and in fact I’m writing a fake engagement story right now. I have it admit, it took a lot of tweaking before my editor accepted the premise...

I like reading sheikh stories, although I have no desire to write one. I rather like cowboys, but am not generally keen on pregnancy or baby stories. Firefighter, cop and military heroes don’t grab me, but “in love with the boss” stories work for me, and so do makeovers, though the latter are few and far between these days.

The other classic hook that I really enjoy, but again which must be handled with care nowadays, is the amnesia story. In the last year I’ve read Season to Believe by Elain Osborn (Special Edition) and The Apollonides Mistress Scandal by Tessa Radley (Desire). Two very different amnesia stories, and I really enjoyed them both. I was interested to see that superstar author Sophie Kinsella’s new book Remember Me? put amnesia squarely into mainstream fiction. I’d love to write an amnesia book, I’m just waiting for the right story....

So, what are your favorite story hooks? Which ones have I left out?

Abby Gaines writes for Superromance and Harlequin NASCAR. Her latest release is Teaming Up, in stores now.


  1. Oh I love hooks.
    MOC and fake engagements are great. I also love captive stories, snowbound/forced intimacy/ boss and secretary stories/former mistress stories.
    And I do like a really well done secret baby story.
    However it is always in execution.

  2. Oh my...I think you could be my long lost reading twin! We like to read (and write) the same things!

  3. Jenna, twins! How could I have forgotten another great hook! :)

    I do like twin stories, and if you mix it up with amnesia,!

    Michelle, I like snowbound stories too - of course, Janice Kay Johnson won the RITA last month with her book Snowbound, which was very good and obviously shows other people like that hook too! Secret baby is a hard one to pull off well, in my opinion, but I've seen one or two that I like.