On judging the FFF hook contest

Posted on April 22, 2007

I thought I should thank everyone who sent in hooks for the fangs_fur_fey contest — not only because it’s both flattering and humbling that you guys would be willing to listen to our opinions about your writing, but also because it’s been a learning experience for me, too. Asking questions about other people’s clarity or characterization makes me question my own writing, too, and that kind of reexamination is always, always a good thing.

The breadth of the concepts I got to judge, and the sheer ingenuity of some of the ideas, really delighted me. In most cases, I thought the construction of the hook needed more work, but every single entry had something in it that caught my imagination. More than that, anybody who’s willing to have their work critiqued in public deserves kudos. Frankly, I don’t think I could do it. But I tried to offer the kind of advice I’d want to get if I did step up to the plate, and I hope it was constructive for everybody.

We’re judging anonymously, and rightly so, but if anybody who participated has general questions, I’d be happy to answer to the best of my ability. (I didn’t organize the contest — others deserve the credit there — so questions about rules, etc., would best be directed at the community.)

Goal for today: finally write synopses for all four books in the Evernight series.

28 Responses to “On judging the FFF hook contest”

  1. debbiemumford

    Great contest. Thanks for being willing to judge. The comments have been very interesting and have helped me hone my understanding of what a hook is and isn’t.

    Kudos to everyone involved!

    • admin

      I’m so glad it’s been useful. It has been a very interesting process all around, and I imagine the judging of the first five pages will be even more so.

  2. quiet_rebel

    I’m still waiting for my hook to be posted, but just wanted to say thanks! From what I’ve read so far, all the judges have done a great job!

    • admin

      You’re welcome! FYI, had I been assigned the work of anybody I knew, I would’ve traded off with another judge, but I wasn’t. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

  3. sarah_create


    Thanks for the time and effort that you spent on the hooks.

    And yes, it was a scary to send in my hook. I live where there are few native English speakers and fresh eyes are invaluable. Reading all the hooks and comments gave me insights that will help improve my writing.

    I also appreciated your suggestion of reading First Draft in 30 days. I write organically, but the logical side of my brain says, ‘outline first, not afterwards.’ I suspect that this book is exactly what I need.

    • admin

      Re: thanks

      You’re very welcome — I am glad the hook contest has been helpful.

      First Draft in 30 Days is Extreme Outlining; it goes into even more detail than I do, and I work out some long outlines. But I think that it shows good questions to ask and breaks the work apart into stages in a helpful way. I’d say read the book and draw from it to the extent you find useful without feeling the need to jump through all the hoops that author suggests.

  4. counteragent

    Thank you for the link to the contest and for serving as a judge. I read many of the hooks and their comments, and found the call-and-answer fascinating.

    Based on the hooks I found compelling, I apparently possess a yen for religious-fantasy. Who knew?

  5. ravelda

    Thank you and all the other judges. I really appreciate whoever critiqued my hook and asked for pages.

  6. wedschilde

    hooks are one of the most difficult things in the world to write. damned things. they’re like ticks.

    and yes, your opinions are very valuable. sometimes, people around you are just too too close to read. very constructive all around. well at least for me!

    thanks! and much much gratitude.

    • admin

      They really are tough. It’s so hard to tell enough without telling too much in that tight format. But I’m glad the experience has been constructive for you!

  7. csinman

    I’m glad to hear it’s not just valuable for us, because the amount I’ve learned about clarity in a hook is so amazing that I’d feel like I was cheating you guys if you weren’t getting something more than amusement at our creativity.

    Mine still hasn’t been posted, but even if it magically disappeared from our dimension, I’ve learned so much I’d still be happy. All of the judges had different flavors of responses, from informatively snarky to exceedingly gentle, and every one of them was useful. Thanks again for your time and effort!

    • admin

      I think there are a handful still waiting to be posted! Here’s hoping all the others come out of the Phantom Zone today. Thanks again for taking part.