Home > WANA > Hooked Like a Fish? Reel ’em In!

Hooked Like a Fish? Reel ’em In!

Hey everyone.

Confession time. I love watching some shows but by the 3rd episode I have major ADD and I look for something new. Lately I have been watching the new show ‘New Girl’. It stars Zooey Dechenel as Jessica ‘Jess’ who needs a new place to live after a bad break up. She ends up with three guys found on Craigslist and hilarity ensues. The pilot, which aired on September 20th, was full of quips and quotable lines. This is fortunate because it gave us something to do at work the next day like quote the whole episode.

Eagerly I waited for the next episode to be just as hilarious and heartwarming. I even convinced my BF to join me, promising several laughs and if he was good he got the remote control. I am pretty sure it was the promise of the remote which convinced him.

At the end of the episode he was not a huge fan and the TV crapped out soon after. Grrrr. On top of that I fumed about how my man could not be a real human or he would have loved the show. Psh what a lack of taste. But when I thought of how wrong he was and got to work, I began wondering if maybe ‘New Girl’ was not as funny the second episode.

With a sinking feeling I talked to my coworkers who watch the show. Did they use up all the good jokes just to hook us in? Was that the major plot? Will Schmit be our favorite character? The mistake the producers made was not really a lack of funny, it was a lack of story. First episode deals with the crisis of needing a place to live and introductions and it ended well. It was new and I laughed at new antics of new characters. Shiny. In comparison the second episode said “You did all that work, now I can relax a little”. No No No NO NO! Bad writer, no coffee for you. This is a very bad idea because that is how you lose your audience. We have to watch out that we do not do the same.

A lot of emphasis needs to be put on those first few critical words. Most of you know that editors only read the first 20 pages and can make a choice in far less than that. If you are lucky the editor will mark up your paper and say where you went wrong. What if your first 250 words are perfect? What if the reader is in love with you before word 500? How about the reader gets to word 1000 and is totally addicted to your amazing author-ness?

Hey this is what dreams are made of.


If your first chapter or two hooks the reader in you have to remember to reel them in. Do not get lazy now because there are high expectations ahead. Like I said in previous posts that giving your MC things to do is critical but at the same time you must find a balance between boring and banging. You made your pitch now time for the main course.

Ooo now that is a good analogy or metaphor or whatever it is. Ok you go out to eat and you are so hungry. You order a three course meal and the app is fantastic. You are left wanting more of that amazingness. When the main entrée comes over…. Well if it looks pitiful in comparison. Is that how a restaurant can do business? NO! The same applies to that manuscript. You need to be consistent or better in what you deliver. Say it with me. Fol-low through. Con-sis-tant-cy.

Hold that thought because now I need a snack. The food analogy reminded me of the Fried String Beans from TGIF’s. You need to eat them if you have not already because they are able to give a food-gasm.

Hooray I am back while simultaneously proving my point not to lose momentum and stay on task. I am not saying you have to write words of gold every single sentence but don’t go too long with down time either. If the next important screen is chapters away, try to mix up the character activities. Throw in a sporting event (create one if not based in reality) or something. Maybe a quick card game? How about a brief romantic interlude?

Enjoy and Happy Writing!

  1. October 12, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    I read an article once (I wish I could find it) called “The first chapter is a promise” It’s really along these lines. The beginning of your novel sets the tone, and is a promise of what the rest of the novel should be. If the second half of your book does not measure up, word of mouth will get around. I have a lot of novels that started to bore me, and I put them down, unfinished. If they had kept their pace, I would have told the world. Since they didn’t they fall into obscurity for me.

  2. October 12, 2011 at 9:20 PM

    I am still struggling with my opening scene; even the opening sentence. My mind keeps going back to it because I know as a reader I am cognizant of the first sentence, paragraph, and scene. The better it gets, the higher the bar for the rest of the work. Jennifer made a great point about pacing. That opening level needs to be maintained for the entire work. Once I read 3/4 of a book that fell on its face and thought, “How did you trick me for so long?!”

  3. October 13, 2011 at 5:36 AM

    Haha I have been attempting to read Lord of the Rings for years but it is just so slow and dry for me. Same for IT. Part of the problem is we read these books because they are ‘great works’ but they are so slow it is a turn off. I don’t need a constant action book but there are some I could not put down.
    @Jennifer – I could not agree more about telling the world about a good book versus being so bored it never got done.
    @Mark – I love your last line haha. It is so true about reworking that first line over and over. Both of you can check out this blog that does a great breakdown of openings.

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