New Brandon Sanderson Lectures – January 2014 – BYU

Just happened upon some new Brandon Sanderson lectures (filmed last month).


With regard to hooks


I’ve always thought of hooks as being those tiny, curved pieces of steel fisherman fling into a body of water, on which a worm or some other tantalizing bait is impaled, in hopes of snagging an unwary fish to be plucked from its home, cleaned, seasoned, fried, and eventually devoured.

In writing, this analogy usually assumes that I, the writer, am considered the fisherman and my prey, the reader, is the dimwitted and impulsive fish. The hook itself, then, is a smelly glob of meat smeared here and there throughout my book to give the reader something to sniff at and, if I’m lucky, latch onto.

As you can probably tell, I don’t much care for this analogy.

It makes sense, as far as its application, but I fear that the relationship between reader and writer is somewhat confused.

The reason being that readers are not as dim as my interpretation makes them out to be, nor are they so naive. And any analogy assuming so, at least for me, is toeing the line of degradation.

If anything, the reader plays the part of the fisherman. It is he who willingly dips his bait into the water, drawing forth our work from a crowded sea to decide whether or not the thing which he has caught should be kept or, if judged unfit, thrown back for the bigger, hungrier fish to consume.

I like this idea much better, because it puts more weight on me to produce something valuable. Furthermore, it entices me to strive for quality throughout my writing, to make my work worthwhile, a thing to be devoured, and to leave my reader not only satisfied but craving more.

Come to think of it, I want my work to be that big ass narwhal that yanks the reader out of his boat and drags him into a dazzling world of sunken ships, lost civilizations and whatever the hell this is.

Its called a Dumbo Fish

In short, I want my work to be great in its entirety, independent of cheap tricks or wasted promises. Be it a trophy on my reader’s wall, a savory meal, or that crazy fish-story he raves about to all his friends.