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Anything Goes : How do you find the "hook" of your TV series when what "hooked" you to it is not necessarily a selling point? by Pinar Tarhan

Pinar Tarhan

How do you find the "hook" of your TV series when what "hooked" you to it is not necessarily a selling point?

Hi everyone! I have a bit of a problem finding the hook of my TV series. I've my loglines, one-page, character details and even ideas/events for following episodes. I can answer pretty much anything regarding this story, including how much it might cost and how it can be progressed into many seasons. I can name quite a few things that make it different and entertaining. What I can't quite explain is when someone asks me what's the hook. I'd always thought if my characters, events and loglines are good enough, those would be "hook"s enough. That might not be the case. I believe in the story, and I'm not opposed to making changes/rewriting without changing the core/heart of the story. I guess I'd love some examples to great hooks of shows you love or show you created that either sold or got requests. Links to resources and stage 32 discussions/posts if available will be hugely appreciated. Your personal tips are welcome! Thanks so much in advance and happy writing (and Saturdays) everyone! :)

Dave McCrea

Hi Pinar, what is the logline of your series?

Pinar Tarhan

Hi Dave! : I'd also love a pointer on which sounds better/more intriguing. 1) A beautiful young woman gives her life a makeover to get over a loss, but her crazy new neighbors provide more distraction than she ever imagined. 2) Janie moves to a crazy California neighborhood to change her life, and all hell breaks loose. More often. *I have another that involves other characters. The problem with my logline(s) is that it sounds like it will just take place in an apartment and between neighbors, when in reality it features many different environments including the beach, police station, fashion world and more. Also, it's meant to be a dramedy.

Dave McCrea

Hi! Yeah it's quite vague you should make it more specific. In both examples you use the word "crazy" to describe the townspeople - how are they crazy? Are they in a cult? Are they all on a certain type of drug? Maybe they all give their kids plastic surgery and she has two 'normal' looking kids?
Also you should have some connection between the woman's former life or situation and this new situation. What is it about HER that makes her the perfect person to find herself in this town? You say she's getting over a loss - what is the loss? For example, if her father died and she moved to a town full of single older men?
The concept should have some suspense in it. Make us go "uh-oh" or "how's that going to work out...?
The concept should break down to problem-solution-problem-solution.
I don't know what your story is but just to give you an example of how that would work:
problem: woman has miscarriage or finds out she can't have kids; solution: stay with her sister in California town to "heal"; problem: her sister is part of an extremist group that believes no more children should be born and forces hysterectomy - maybe her sister lured her there to convert her; solution: get the ringleaders of this group arrested/killed. Okay that's more of a horror thriller but you get the point. But in this her loss connects to the new situation. Also it's ironic in what appears to be a safe place to go to get over something is actually the worst place for her to go.
You should check out this movie - The Stepford Wives from 1975. (They made a remake in 2004 but the 75 version is better)

Pinar Tarhan

Thanks so much, Dave! They're quirky: cops who act like frat boys, a college boy fixated on curing an agoraphobic mom, surfers who live for the next best wave and other forms of adrenaline, a metalhead who shoots herself for fun… :) I think including characters make it better too. She is getting over the death of her boyfriend. She hasn't only changed her address. She has a new car, job and clothes too. She's not perfect by any means, but she's comparatively more normal and grounded than the current state of her neighbors. There's more than 1 main character, though she's the most important character. I guess the challenge is to keep the log line succinct while still intriguing. I watched the new Stepford Wives. Will check out the original.

Regina Lee

Hi Pinar, as a "Hollywood" producer, I find distilling the series into a short pitch with a clear hook is incredibly difficult, even when I've been doing it for years. So I'll cheat and steal from Vince Gilligan...!! His description of Walter White from BREAKING BAD is that the character transforms from "Mr. Chips to Scarface." He tells you the hook, the character journey, and the series concept in 4 little words. Google it and read about it. Super educational.

Pinar Tarhan

Hi Regina, thanks so much for the tip! I'll read it right away. :)

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