Notes from a Screenreader: Right Hook

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Photo via Go Into the Story.

A spec script with a real hook jumps right out of the pile.

It’s the difference between an indestructible cyborg from the future relentlessly attempting to murder Sarah Connor and Sarah Connor, for instance, getting a message from the future that she should start taking self-defense classes while she waits for a man named Kyle to find her.

They’re both basically the same story, same people, same world, same themes, but one has the right hook and one is an early draft that starts after the midpoint.

  • The right hook has distance. When pairing your protag with their problem, build in a big chasm. Put as much distance as possible between them and the likelihood that they will succeed.
  • The right hook is sharply in focus. One person, one problem that must be faced head on.
  • The right hook is personal. The stakes have to be relatable to earn investment from the reader. Real pain is necessary for real catharsis.

The right hook turns your spec into a knockout.

ANNIE LABARBA

Annie is a screenwriter, story consultant, and reader for major screenplay competitions.

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