Wednesday Writing Wisdom/Set the Hook

No not this Hook, although what  lovely evil eye candy.

I want to talk about hooking our readers. Your first sentence has to GRAB the reader and not let go.

Welcome to another WWW my friends, today it’s all about the Hook. Over the holiday weekend we went to see Lee Daniels’ The Butler. A very good movie if you are looking for something to watch next weekend. Anyway the reason I brought this up is that I love to see the previews. That is the best part of going to the movies for me. Those sneaks peeks get me all excited for what I might want to see next.  They are what the movie industry calls the hook.  The high action or powerful dramatic scenes of the movie that’s just enough to generate buzz.  If I missed the sneak peeks I always feel like I didn’t really go to the movies.

I’m like that with books. If I don’t get that buzz in the first couple of pages, I feel disappointed. Many agents and/or editors will stop reading on the first page if they’re not hooked.

I’m like most readers; we have a short attention span, if we aren’t on the hook fast you will lose us quickly. No matter how amazing that cover looks or what exciting thing is coming in the next chapter, we won’t finish. And no writer wants that.

Books have to get the readers engaged early. The covers are fine for getting a reader to pick them up, but content is also important. I will talk about the importance of book covers in another post.

No one wants to spend their time reading 50 pages of boring dialect, excessive description, irrelevant information, or getting introduced to too many characters while trying to get into a story. Listen that is the last thing you want to do is to annoy or bore readers. You want them engaged eager to read your hard work

“The ‘hook’ is how the best-selling author captures reader interest. Dickens could take his time hooking his reader. Today`s best-selling author must ‘set the hook’ within the first paragraph—preferably the first line. The ‘hook’ must cause the reader to ask any or all of the following questions: Why? How? What? When?”

MADELYNE SIMONE ROVENHAVEN is the author of the Nasty Little Writing Book (published by Elderberry Press, Inc..).

The writer needs to be innovative and bold hook their readers right off the bat. Here are some ways to bait that reel.

1)      Keep them Guessing

Stamp a question in the reader’s mind. What do those lines mean? What does that word mean? What’s going to happen?

2)      Pivotal Plot Moment

Starting with an important moment in the story, you will have the reading sticking around to find out what’s going to happen next.

3)      Paint a Picture

Show not tell, describe a scene in a way that lets the reader paint a picture in their minds. Don’t overset the scene.

4)      Fascinating Character

Create a character that’s intriguing and that will, no doubt, draw a reader into the story’s narrative. Don’t make the first chapter entirely about backstory either.

5)      Unusual Circumstances

This is always a good one, putting a character in surprising situations, will get the reader’s attention.

Once you have them hooked you will need to maintain their attention by writing a well-written story that delivers the promises you made in your introduction.

That first chapter creates the groundwork for the rest of the book.  It’s supposed to set in motion the important plot elements, makes us care about the protagonists, builds the world you imagined and show conflict(s).   It’s the catalyst that makes a reader want to keep turning the page, and if you are submitting to an agent/editor make them want to request the full manuscript.

Copyright © 2013 Glynis Rankin

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