Tag Archive - hook

How to Hook Readers and Reel Them into Your Scenes

We toss around the word hook when we talk about stories. What’s the hook? we ask. Sometimes we’re talking about the overall premise: what component to the story idea is unique, compelling, intriguing. Othertimes we’re talking about the first few lines of a novel (or first line) that is to be crafted in a way to grab readers and make them want to read more.

But that’s not all the hooks we need. We’re on the hook for coming up with great openings for every scene we write. Sure, novels don’t have a killer first-line hook for every scene, but we certainly want to open each scene strong.

That usually means ditching explanation and backstory and dull description of place and weather. Instead, a more effective way to hook readers into a scene is to consider these things:

  • The tone or mood you need to set that implies the POV character’s state of mind and emotion.
  • The situation you can insert your character into that is already underway in an interesting manner (in other words, don’t start scenes with your character waking up, then brushing his teeth, then getting dressed, for example).
  • Some element of mystery or microtension that creates curiosity.

Sure, a catchy first line or paragraph is helpful to hook readers, but you can’t always be that snappy with every scene opening, nor would it be a good idea. Continue Reading…

Scene Structure: Opening Hooks

For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we’re looking at excerpts from past posts on Live Write Thrive that tie in with our exploration on scene structure.

From Hook ‘Em on the First Cast:

 Hook, Line, and Sinker

What is a hook all about anyway? It’s a line that snags your reader and pulls them into the story. Often someone flipping through your book or looking at the first page online at Amazon.com will just read the first few lines. I have heard agents and acquisition editors say that they will pretty much decide to either stop or continue reading based on that first sentence, or possibly the first paragraph.

Yikes! So, that first line should be a doozy and one that really makes an impression. As I said before, don’t get so hung up on writing that first paragraph that you don’t move forward. You will probably come back and rewrite it, unless you came up with an opening line ages ago and now you’re finally putting that masterpiece in place. Sometimes as we’re writing our novel a great first line will come to us. Other times we’ll find a great first line somewhere on page three or four. Continue Reading…

Hook ‘Em on the First Cast

If you look at your first page checklist , you’ll see that the first three elements I discussed last week—introduction of your protagonist, a catalyst or incident to put them in that showcases her, and a hint of her core need (linked to her visible plot goal)—actually cover a few more things on the checklist. I haven’t talked about the hook, and rather than thumb through some great books and give you a long list, I would encourage you to do that and think about how effective these first lines are. But I will give you a couple of “catchy hooks” (sorry about the pun) that stick out in my mind (below). Continue Reading…