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Member # 2145

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What did OSC mean when he said, 'Hooks haven't worked since O Henry died'?
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Member # 1680

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O Henry was known for his twist endings. Is it possible that's what OSC was referring to?

The Gift of the Magi is probably O Henry's best known story, but I've always been partial to The Skylight Room, which I think is on the edge of early urban fantasy.

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I was at one of his workshop thingys last month. He did wax philosophical upon many a topic. I took piles of notes which I can check. I think he was talking about those clever little beginnings with a slap in the face surprise at the end. Maybe you should ask nim? Just to be opinionated maybe its good to have a good beginning that gains interest rather than a clever one that peeks it then lets you down.
Like meeting a cute boy then finding he has no brains. O the suffering!

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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If you be sure to say where he said that (to remind him of the context--just in case), the place to ask OSC what he meant is here


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Member # 1955

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Witness the lack of any plot twist in Ender's Game...
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Surprise endings / plot twists are great if you can do them right. The trick is dropping clues the whole way and letting the reader jump to the wrong conclusion. So that when they go back over it they go, "oh DUH! I can't believe I missed that."

Either that, or you have to have that ONE piece of withheld information be

1) natural to withhold
2) So important it changes the ENTIRE meaning of the story.

Otherwise it's just withholding information, which if you've been to an OSC writing class or read ANY of his writing books, you'll know he rails against quite rabidly.

As to what he meant by the statement . . . beats me, but I'll tell you what I take from it. Don't use gimmicks to make people interested in your story. If they don't care about your story, a gimmick isn't going to help. And only a few authors can pull of stories that are pure gimmicks or setups for plot twists. In fact, as far as I know, the ONLY author that could pull such a thing off consistently was Phillip K. Dick. And that's just my humble little opinion.

$.02 right there.


-Falken224 - posing as Corin

[This message has been edited by Corin224 (edited April 22, 2005).]

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I think what he probably meant was simply to not try to "trick" or "fool" the reader. Don't set them up for one type of ending them give them another.

Of course, since the quote uses the term "hook", it could simply mean that use of lines to try and tease the reader can make a work seem sophomoric. A sophistocated writer will draw the reader in, engage them, and get them hooked without resorting to the one-liner hooks we love to employ.

As for Ender's Game -- that worked because it was not an O'Henry type of ending. All the clues were there, and the two running the battle school had a clear agenda. When the story moves to the final test, I already had figured out what was going on. The rest of the story merely confirmed it.

My 2 pennies, anywy.

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