fiction / publishing / short stories / writing


I was told by a literary agent (not this one, another) that my short story collection, once finished, would need a bigger hook in order to sell. Story collections do these days, she said sadly, which made me wonder if I needed to be a one-armed orphaned albino circus freak from Macedonia who writes all her stories only in whale ink in order to sell one. In other words so few people read stories anymore, so if you want to catch the attention of the three people who would buy your book you have to be creative about it.

Possible hooks:

  • A collection of very, very quiet stories that would be a good thing to buy if you find yourself having trouble falling to sleep and aren’t ready to try Ambien.
  • A collection of stories with long sentences mixed up with very short sentences because that’s how I like to do it, mang.
  • A collection of stories about how much I despise the Catskill Mountains and you should never ever move your kids up there and force them to live in the middle of nowhere where they have to take the short bus to school because that’s just cruel. Not that there’s a short bus in any of the stories, I’m just sayin’.
  • A collection of stories that do not take place on boats because I’m just really not into boats, okay?
  • A collection of stories typed with just two fingers and my thumbs.
  • A collection of stories about a bunch of people who have either been mean to me or disappointed me and that’s what I call revenge.
  • A collection of stories, none of which were written while drunk.
  • A collection of stories, none of which were published in The New Yorker.
  • A collection of stories about the same character over and over, except she has different names because I am so very clever and think you won’t notice.
  • A collection of stories written by me, a person with a very funny name to which Barry Hannah, upon randomly happening upon it at a summer workshop, told the class “Now that’s the name of a writer” (though he hadn’t read my writing) and said I shouldn’t ever change it and if Barry Hannah likes my name and thinks I sound like a writer, why don’t you?

Fine. I’ll think up a better hook. I might need to finish all the stories first though.

EDIT: Just happened upon this link, randomly and coincidentally!

7 thoughts on “Hooks

  1. Funny. This is something I started doing a couple of months ago. In this case I decided to use the same antagonist and in each short story would be different protagonist going up against the same antagonists.

    In some short stories the protagonist would win, in some cases lose, but overall it would build and define the antagonist as the stories are read.

  2. Oh, how I relate to this…and that link is awesome (and encouraging). Ten years, did she say? I guess that means another 9 for me…if I’m lucky.

    Why do we write again?

  3. Nova, WHERE would a Macedonian gimp get whale ink from. Honestly, sometimes I just don’t understand you. 😉

    I like the 7th and 8th hooks best. 🙂

  4. Yes, it is certainly a sad state of affairs for all of us relatively well-adjusted, seemingly normal, typically functioning lugs who did not spend out childhoods in caves / agony / dysfunctional families spawned by aliens.

    And to think, we probably spent the better part of our teenage years figuring out how to fit IN. What did we know?

  5. I vote some combo of #2 and #5. With the addition of a bonus Choose-Your-Own-Adventure option that centers mostly around chicklit topics of shoe shopping and husbindt-picking.

    Then run around to book signings flashing gang-signs and switching through various accents.

    Instant fame!

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