Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hooking Your Reader

by Donna K. Weaver

We hear all the time about how we should open our books with a hook, but what the heck is a hook anyway? Well, here is an interesting little tidbit from Wikipedia (the underlining is mine).
A narrative hook is a literary technique in the opening of a story that "hooks" the reader's attention so that he or she will keep on reading. The "opening" may consist of several paragraphs for a short story, or several pages for a novel, but ideally it is the opening sentence.
The key is to keep the readers reading. If they like the first sentence, they will also read the first paragraph, and if they like the first paragraph, they may read the whole page, and if they enjoy that they may read the first chapter and then finish the book.

I pulled some random books from my bookcase and posted the first sentence from each below. Now, bear in mind that hooks can vary according to genre. For example, if you're reading a suspense or thriller you would expect something to grip you right away.
Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar, wore white on the day he was to kill a king.  --The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (epic fantasy)
I plastered myself flat against the wall, straining to distinguish footsteps from heart palpitations.  --Strength by Carrie Butler (NA urban fantasy)
I don't do catsuits.  --I, Spy by Jordan McCollum  (romantic suspense)
Daddy said, "Let mom go first."  --Across the Universe by Beth Revis (YA SciFi)
Jori was getting really tired of people pointing guns at him.  --Torn Canvas by Donna K. Weaver (adventure romance)
Mrs. Anderson was dead.  --I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells  (horror)
The kidnapper looking down at Naomi held a book of poetry to his chest. --The Breakaway by Michelle Davidson Argyle (psychological thriller)
You would think I'd never jumped off a cliff before, based on how long I stood there. --Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman (MG Dystopian)
There's an interesting blog post here with ten types of literary hooks.

So, what kinds of things hook you as a reader? How much time do you give them before you look at a different book?


Michelle D. Argyle said...

It really does vary by genre! I've found that some of my favorite books actually have some pretty boring first sentences, hah. Love what you've chosen here!

Carrie Butler said...

As they say, you only get one chance to make a first impression! :)

P.S. Thanks for mentioning Strength!

Jordan McCollum said...

Lots of fun first sentences there! Thanks for mentioning mine ;) .

unikorna said...

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