How To Be A Successful Hooker

Oct 10 2020, 8:23 am in

Hooker? 
 Did you come to the blog thinking I was going to talk about a very old profession? If you did well……..

HA! Made you look. You fell for my HOOK.

I’m talking Writing Hooks. Hooking a reader into your story.

Grabbing them so hard and fast they can‘t put your book down.

 

     So what is a HOOK?

     Mary Buckham, in her lecture packet on Hooks and Pacing, says, “Hooks create an emotional response from a reader. Not just any emotional response but one that gets under your subconscious, raises a question and compels a reader to turn one more page in order to find an answer.

     Hooks can, and should be used, in the opening sentence of a book, the opening paragraph, the end of the first page, the end of the third page, the end of the third chapter, opening a chapter as well as an ending one, at each new scene and, if you’re writing a series, the last sentence.”

     In her book, How I Write, Janet Evanovich says:  “The beginning is the most important part of the book. It must capture the reader immediately and force them to keep reading.”

      In his book Hooked Les Edgerton says, “ If your beginning doesn’t do the job it needs to the rest of the story most likely won’t be read by the agent or editor or publisher you submit it to.”

     Agent Donald Maas says hooks are vital to open your book, open each chapter, open each scene, and end the book. The best books contain one or more of twelve different hooks.

* Action or danger

* Overpowering emotion

* A surprising situation

* An evocative description that pulls a reader into a setting

* Introducing a unique character

* Warning or foreshadowing

* Shocking or witty dialogue

* The totally unexpected

* Raising a direct question

     Still not convinced hooks are important? Take five of your favorite books from the shelf and read the first paragraph. Is there a hook?  Does the end of the first chapter have a hook?  I looked at 20 of my favorites. All have hooks and all but a handful had the story GMC in the first pages.

     My very favorite opening is Michael Connelly’s The Brass Verdict. It completely lays out the story.

“Everybody lies.

Cops lie. Lawyers lie. Witnesses lie. The victim lies.

The trial is a contest of lies. And everyone in the courtroom knows this. The judge knows this. Even the jury knows this. They come into the building knowing they take their seats in the box and agreed to be lied to.”

     There is an Eloisa James book, (Historical) the name of the book escapes me now, that begins “I didn’t mean to marry them both.” Brilliant. The reader knows what this book is about instantly.

     Does your opening immediately draw the reader in?  Don’t know? If you open with a character talking about grocery lists or what’s on TV, probably not. Your opening signals what the rest of the book is about.  

     Openings don’t have to be explosions, fires, or murders.  Although I do like those.  It does need to make the reader want to read on and on and on. You only have a few pages to ‘hook’ an agent, editor, and most important, your readers.  

     Make the best of your first pages.  In the first paragraph drag the reader in with a grappling hook, use a spinner to end the first page.  End the first chapter with a treble hook.

      Go all out for the end of your story and use a big game hook that satisfies the reader an has them searching for your next book.  

     Share a opening hook from a favorite book or, one from your own writing. 

                                                                                                 Rita

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