Tip on Writing a Hook Between Land and Sea from Joanne Guidoccio


After completing Between Land and Sea, I attended a number of workshops where the facilitators stressed the importance of a hook or logline.

What is a hook/logline?

Very simply, it is a concise sentence that answers the question: What is your novel about? An effective logline provides enough interest to prolong the conversation with a prospective agent or publisher, encourages readers to pick up the book, and creates tweetable buzz. 

At first, I found it a daunting task. How could I possibly condense 69,000 words into 25 words or less?

I started by looking at the some of the great hooks in literature and cinema:

A man goes into the jungle to search for a missing general. (Heart of Darkness)

A reclusive chocolateer opens up his factory to the lucky children who find golden tickets. (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

A sea captain forces his crew to search for an elusive white whale. (Moby Dick)

A train engine thinks it can make it up a hill. (The Little Engine That Could)

A young FBI cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims. (The Silence of the Lambs)

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. (The Shawshank Redemption)

Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny, eludes him. (Forrest Gump)

And my all time favorite…

Film Director James Cameron pitched his idea for a three-hour epic in just six words:

Romeo and Juliet on the Titanic.

My hooks

After a mermaid is aged, weathered, and abandoned, she embraces her new body and heals her bruised heart. (Between Land and Sea)

A brunette lottery winner never has an alibi when dead blondes turn up in dumpsters near her favorite haunts. (A Season for Killing Blondes – Spring 2015)

On the day of her engagement party, an ex-mermaid’s life is disrupted by the arrival of another mermaid—a sister she has never known. (The Coming of Arabella – Spring 2015)

Do you have a hook for your novel or WIP? 

 After giving up her tail for an international banker, Isabella of the Mediterranean kingdom is aged beyond recognition. The horrified banker abandons her on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England, leaving her to face a difficult human journey as a plain and practically destitute fifty-three-year-old woman.

With the help of a magic tablet and online mermaid support, Isabella evolves into the persona of Barbara Davies. Along the way, she encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, among them former mermaids, supportive and not-so-supportive women, deserving and undeserving men, and several New Agers.



In high school, I dreamed of writing the great Canadian novel. I wrote several poems and short stories but decided to wait until I had more life experiences before starting a novel. The original plan was to get a general arts degree and take a few years off to travel and write.

Instead, I gave in to my practical Italian side and got degrees in mathematics and education. I planned to teach during the day and spend my evenings, weekends and holidays churning out best-selling novels.

How hard could it be?

The school day ended in mid-afternoon, and I had twelve weeks of holiday time. That would give me plenty of time to devote to my true passion—writing.

That was the dream.

The reality was very different.

Even though I had many satisfying moments, I found the teaching profession to be a very challenging and demanding one. I never had the time and energy to start a writing practice.

In 2008, I took advantage of early retirement. I filled my days with workshops, seminars and online courses. Slowly, a writing practice emerged and my articles and book reviews started appearing  in newspapers, magazines and online.

On a whim, I took a workshop offered by dark fantasy and horror writer Sarah Totton. At first, I focused only on the writing advice, but later toyed with the idea of writing fantasy for boomer women. My debut novel, BETWEEN LAND AND SEA, a paranormal romance about a middle-aged mermaid, was released by Soul Mate Publishing in September 2013.

2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year!

Soul Mate Publishing will release THE COMING OF ARABELLA, the sequel to Between Land and Sea.

The Wild Rose Press will release A SEASON FOR KILLING BLONDES, the first book in the Gilda Greco Murder Mystery Series.

Joanne Guidoccio