For a reader, filmmaker, producer or an agent to become interested in your screenplay, you need to find a “magical” way to grab their attention. In reality, no one will devote even five minutes of their time to your project if their interest hasn’t been tickled. And, the easiest and the fastest way to do so is with a mind-blowing, one of a kind, HOOK.
A hook is an integral part of your logline and your pitch to spark the interest of a reader or a listener. Your logline could be just one sentence long hook.
It’s not easy to develop a good hook and polishing near-perfect one needs time and practice.
Some screenwriters come up with a logline with a very intriguing hook, even before sitting down to write the script. The idea behind this tactic is to sell the logline first and have someone pay you to write the script, instead of investing all this time into writing something that no one may be interested in.
However, if you already have a book, which you are planning to adapt, you will need to build/create the hook from the material you already have.
The best way to start learning how hooks and loglines work and are structured is to search IMDB for answers. IMDB is a film website database, possibly the most renown one, with a humongous number of films and TV show on it.
Browse IMDB to see the structure of filmmakers’ loglines and try to find the hooks they used to attract an audience. Save the ones you think were successful and make a list of the successful loglines and hooks’ structural points. A successful logline will be a sentence with the right hook that sparked your interest to know more about that film or TV show.
Think about the logline in terms of this one sentence as a written trailer for the project. Successful logline with the right hook will give the audience the right nudge towards watching the trailer and hopefully, the trailer will, in turn, be attractive enough for the viewer to want to watch the film.
There are plenty of different film lists on IMDB so you can browse those first before moving onto films you like and then stories that are similar to yours. It’s important to know what has already been made, how that story was sold and if it recouped money.
This knowledge might seem irrelevant to someone who wants to write a screenplay but it really is essential for a few reasons:
- You need to be informed of what has been made that is similar to your story.
- You need to know when that was made. If something similar was completed recently and wasn’t that successful, the odds of your screenplay being picked up are very slim. You might reconsider changing your story or moving onto something else/another story/book.
- Knowing the budget of films similar to yours is also vital. Knowing how big the budget is and how much the movie made once released is a good way of knowing how the market looks for your type of story.
From researching loglines and hooks, try to see if you can find a pattern. Are the most successful hooks written in a specific way? See if you can spot the elements that stand out in the best hooks.
I would also look for hooks in magazines and article titles and headlines. I’m not talking about clickbait headlines, but solid titles that encapsulate everything the story you intend to read is going to be about.
If you have one of the bankable elements (creative talent) already attached to your script, the hook doesn’t need to do as much of the heavy lifting as it has to do if you are just starting on the production road.
Start a collection of titles, loglines and hooks. That collection will help you get inspired and equip you with the right data and confidence to write your hooks that grab the audience. Coming up with a right hook is a long process, but so much depends on that one sentence that making it perfect is worth all the time in the world.