Unfortunately, Mr. Schmidt got up in front of the group of aspiring writers and told them that he hated the word "hook". Mr. Schmidt, if you're reading this, you know I love you. I'd rank you in the top ten novelists working in children's books today. But you're giving me such a headache.
I know, there's a lot of confusion about what qualifies as a hook. And if that's where you're coming from, ok, I sympathize. I hate terms that have no useful definition as much as the next dictionary-reader.
So here you go:
hook / noun : the reason people will read your book.
No, really. That's what it means. Go back and read it again if you have to.
Now, in the case of writing like Mr. Schmidt's, the hook--the reason people will read his work-- is that it's brilliant, and there are lots of people willing to tell readers it's brilliant.
Writers like Mr. Schmidt (or Mr. Anderson, or Ms. Anderson, or Ms. Lockhart, or Mr. Alexie) don't need to worry much any more about hook, because once a wide segment of the book community realizes that whatever these writers write will be worth reading, such writers have hook at their fingertips.
So Mr. Schmidt, you're doing new writers a terrible disservice when you tell them it's ok to dislike and disregard 'hook'.
You are, in fact, sounding a great deal like certain French princesses, who when informed of the peasants' concerns about lack of
Fortunately for you, writers are a hell of a lot more optimistic than your average French peasant, and they'll get all the way home intending to eat their cake before remembering that they don't have any of that either.
Consider this before you advise people against the importance of hook. And before you go to your next writers' conference, take my advice and check for guillotines.