What does an editor mean when she asks about the hook for your proposed mystery series?
Basically, this refers to the marketing angle or the unique slant that your series offers. Your hook is based on the series premise, whether it’s the sleuth’s occupation or a particular locale. For example, my Bad Hair Day mysteries take place in a beauty salon owned by my hairstylist sleuth, Marla Shore. When I created the series, there were few other stories set in a similar environment. Now there are several, but they’re each different because of the setting or the sleuth’s particular characteristics.
So first you need to assign your sleuth an occupation. Are you a foodie? Maybe your gal works in a coffee shop, a bakery, a cupcake store, or a soup kitchen. Or else she’s a caterer or a food critic. Likely you’ll include recipes along with your story.
Or perhaps you enjoy hand-made crafts for a hobby, so your sleuth opens a scrapbooking store or designs jewelry or makes quilts with a circle of friends. You can include crafting tips in these types of stories.
Bed-and-breakfast owners and tour guides are also popular tropes. And don’t forget your pet mysteries. Dogs and cats have their own fans.
Ghosts are always popular, as you’ll witness by the paranormal mysteries or psychic detectives.
Whatever your personal interests, you are likely to find a mystery series to match. If not, you can create one.
The location also lends personality to these stories. My heroine lives in South Florida, which gives these books a different flavor than a beauty parlor set in Savannah. The age of the protagonist makes a difference. Whereas Marla is in her thirties, another hairdresser sleuth might be old enough to be her mother. The hook in all of these is the hair salon angle.
We could speak about the opening hook in your story or end-of-chapter hooks, but those have to do with writing craft. First you need to hook the reader on your overall series premise. Then you can worry about story details.
So what is the unique angle to your series?
Hanging By A Hair
A Bad Hair Day Mystery
Marla’s joyous move to a new house with her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, is marred by their next-door neighbor who erects an illegal fence between their properties. When Dalton reminds the man of the local permitting laws, tempers flare—and worse, the neighbor is found dead the following day. Dismayed when Dalton is removed from the case due to a conflict of interest, Marla decides it’s up to her to find the killer. Can the intrepid hairstylist untangle the clues and pin down the culprit before he strikes again?
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hanging-by-a-hair-nancy-j-cohen/1116603785
Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day mystery series featuring hairdresser Marla Shore, who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. Several of these titles have made the IMBA bestseller list. Nancy is also the author of Writing the Cozy Mystery, a valuable instructional guide for mystery writers. Her imaginative romances have also proven popular with fans. Her titles in this genre have won the HOLT Medallion and Best Book in Romantic SciFi/Fantasy at The Romance Reviews. Active in the writing community and a featured speaker at libraries and conferences, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, she enjoys reading, fine dining, cruising and outlet shopping.
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