I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pitch Fest: The Hook: How Ironic!

Last May when a bunch of the MBT Ponderers landed in Seattle at the Polish (Pitch and Promotion) conference, Susie taught us to search for the irony for our hook. If you’ve done the homework Beth Vogt shared on The Writing Road about the Why/Why Not of your story, you’re ready to discover your hook.

When we speak of irony, we’re talking about a paradox or the incongruity of the situation. You already know why your character is perfect for the journey as well as why it won’t work for them. Can you see the contradiction or absurdness of the hero’s situation?

If you have trouble coming up with the irony in your story, asked yourself if there’s a pair of unexpected opposites.

Let me give you some examples. In the popular TV show Castle, a control-freak cop must accept the help of an out-of-control writer. Wouldn’t you know she’d get stuck with him!

This year’s ACFW keynote speaker, Tim Downs, writes about a woman who’s terrified of insects teaming up with a forensic entomologist to solve a murder in Shoofly Pie. You can imagine the scene where the woman has to enter his creepy infested office!

Sometimes it helps to find the irony by asking a question. What if a prominent doctor wrongly convicted of murdering his wife must escape in order to find the real killer and prove his innocence? (The Fugitive.) What if an obnoxious boss must ask her assistant to marry her in order to escape deportation? (The Proposal.)

Once you’ve discovered the paradox in a question, you can change it to a statement if you wish.

To bring it closer to home, here’s some of the MBT Frasier finalists who honed their hook with irony at the Seattle conference:

Beth Vogt: Can the wrong kiss lead to Mr. Right?

Melissa Tagg: She thought she knew him better than anyone. Now she wishes she didn’t.

Dr. Paula Boire: He’ll have to sacrifice a nation in order to save his son.

Aren’t those great?

At the conference, Susie taught us to give this hook first and pause for a moment. If it’s good, the agent or editor will likely ask for more. At this point you give the premise. Click here to find out more about preparing your premise from MBT Ponderer, Melissa Tagg.

Join Susan May Warren and the MBT Ponderers on Monday night, September 13 at 7 p.m. (Central) for a Pitch Practice Chat!

See you there, Teri Dawn Smith


  1. Wow!! Super helpful. I just changed my pitch and think it's much better now!

  2. Yay Katie! Glad this helped! Don't forget to follow all of the links to the other blogs.

    And we're doing a Pitch practice on Monday if you'd like to try it out with Susie!

  3. Katie, glad to hear it! Hope you checked out all the posts along the Pitch Fest! And come join the MBT Monday Night Chat too!

  4. Yay Katie! Bethy, good summary, you are so succinct. (I wonder why that is, resident editor?)

  5. Gasp! Amy, did you think Beth wrote this? Did you mean that word "succinct" about THIS post? I sounded like BETH, THE EDITOR??


  6. (Beth, don't tell Amy, but you and I both know what you would've done with this if you'd had the inclination to edit it.)

  7. Put a signature on your post, Teri! :O)

  8. Wonderful post, Miss Teri! :-)

  9. Thanks, Angela. Call me if you'd like to practice your pitch!

  10. Teri, great advice.
    Looks like I have some work to do. Thanks!

  11. The pitches are great, ladies. Best wishes next week!