I get asked all the time, "How do I write a good hook?"
My answer always causes a stir, because it's so simple.
Here's the big secret: Find the 'kernel' of what you want
to say. Then say it with a short punchie statement. There's
your hook. (*I wish it was more complicated.)
If you picture a real fish hook, you'll see that it has a
pointed end which easily goes into the fish!
Now think of all the ways you could say something important.
Many of those ways are "dull"... but if you think long
enough, you'll come up with a "pointed" way of saying it...
a stickie way.
*Truthfully, after you get some experience, the hook will
normally be what shows up in your mind first! It will be
what lights your fire and makes you even want to write a
song in the first place.
Hooks are SHORT enough to be easily remembered and
"heavy" enough to make an emotional or spiritual impact.
That's why most hooks become the song's title.
You're taking a meaningful truth and "boiling it down" to a
single impactful phrase.
Let's just do some examples right now: (off the top of my head)
The subject is...
AN OLD DEAD RELATIONSHIP that still gives you a tinge
You delve into the ironic feeling that you're glad it's over
but it still hurts that it's over...now let's boil the idea down
to single phrase. (I'll actually do several ideas.)
HOOK: You Threw Me Away
HOOK: You're Gone, But You Won't Leave
HOOK: Could You Send the Rest of Me?
HOOK: On Good Days (I forget about you)
Here's another example...
FATHER'S DAY and you miss your dad--
He's across the country and you won't get to be there.
You've never been able to express much openly with your
dad, but you know you love him and he loves you.
HOOK: Like Father Like Son
HOOK: I Never Knew How to Say it
HOOK: I Hope This Finds You (Well) (song would be a letter)
HOOK: I'll Always Remember (list some memories with your dad)
OK, those are a couple of examples of possible hooks. But
do you see that there's something missing?
That's right...the rest of the song! That's not a joke...
The fact is, the lines LEADING UP TO a hook are what
really make the difference in whether the hook really "hooks."
There are some clever ways to SET UP a hook to make
it explode onto your listener's emotions.
I cover a bunch of those in my book, Strong Songwriting.
(If you own it, read chapter 4 again --"Setting the Hook!")
I'll try to cover some of those "setups" in future emails too,
so stay tuned.
Remember, coming up with a good hook is about finding a single
phrase that IMPACTS the emotions like a blow to the chest.
I hope that helps. I encourage you to go try brainstorming hooks
right now! And don't forget to write 'em down when they come