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“The only vampire I ever met was in Natchez, Mississippi.” That’s the opening line of a story* I’ve told hundreds of times both to entertain and teach. It’s simple. But it’s a hook I crafted through many drafts and rounds of audience feedback. Why’s it great? And how can you make your own hooks great? I’ll dissect.
When Gerald first saw her, he quickly clocked her as one of the Top 5 best looking girls at the party. Not #1, but not #6 either. She was noted. 15 minutes later—or one beer, whichever came first—she was walking past him on her way to the kitchen, and he cooly, casually broke from his conversation to say hello, then cooly, casually resumed. He was noted.
Noel likes to wait until the very end of the night to sing Beyonce. Before then she's too busy doling out Buds and little bags of Classic Lay's. But by about 1:45, the ten customers at Nick's Lounge, which does karaoke every night of the week, have all sung at least once, and Noel glides out from behind the bar, tells Steve the DJ to cue up a deep track--"'Single Ladies' is so overdone!"--and kills. I mean, she really kills.
Jimmy clicked the volume down a few levels. I could sense him spot-glancing me in his rearview mirror before he finally said, “So, it’s kinda been a tough afternoon.”
I was overnighting in L.A. for work on a Thursday and using Uber to get place to place.
The only vampire I ever met was in Natchez, Mississippi. Natchez is one of the oldest towns on the Mississippi River—settlers were there in the 1600s. And when you look at it on a map, it’s as if the river actually bends toward the town, as if Natchez has this mysterious magnetic pull. It’s a town full of transients—Mark Twain slept there. It’s a town full of characters. I was there to find those people: to write a story about the most interesting locals.