Back in March of 2010, I sat down to enjoy a new television show. The premier of “Justified” was coming on, and I was curious to see Timothy Olyphant again, since he had done such a fantastic job as bad-ass Seth Bullock in the HBO series “Deadwood.”
It didn’t take me long to figure out how things were going to go. The episode opened with Marshal Givens striding down a wooden boardwalk to a poolside cabana, Stetson firmly in place, and steely eyes firmly on target: A thug that has been in town too long to suit the lawman. The shady gentleman greets the marshal and invites him to sit. Accepting the offer, Marshal Givens informs the hood that he’s less than pleased the fellow is still in town – and he has two minutes to get out.
The fellow is mockingly astonished, and poo-poos the marshall, asking him if he’s eaten, “Ya hungry? Want somethin’ to eat?” Marshal Givens declines, eyes still fastened, and says “90 seconds”. More BS and gibberish from the bad guy, then “Sixty seconds.” Increasing dialogue from the baddie, a bit more frantic, and beginning to analyze things, listing reasons why the marshal would be better served pursuing other avenues.
More frantic and sweaty jabbering now, why me, others are worse, blah blah.
Slight smile on the marshal’s face now. “Ten.”
This is bullshit! Absolute bullshit!”
“Five. Four. Three. Two. One.”
The mugster goes for his gun, and Marshal Givens obligingly blows him out of his chair. He slams back, lands, and rolls backwards before landing in a lifeless heap. Marshal Givens stands, adjust his Stetson, and walks off.
Needless to say, I haven’t missed an episode since, and won’t. In fact, I’m going to buy the series.
You know what that was?
It was the fabled “Hook”, dead upfront (pardon the pun), and in your face. The hook promised one and all what was to come. Expect action, violence, and a straightforward pursuit of law and order through and through. And the series has since delivered on that promise.
Do those two things with your book. Hook the reader as soon as possible, hopefully in the first sentence – and then deliver on your promise – and watch your book sell.