The Hook

Crooked hook

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In February, I shared a post by K.M. Weiland in regards to story structure. She has recently posted part two. As always, Ms. Weiland provides writers with tips on hooking readers, as well as, examples of how other writers have achieved this goal. Drawing in readers at the beginning of your book is very important, but also very difficult. If hooking your reader is giving you a headache, feel free to visit her blog for help.

The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 2: The Hook

By K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

Readers are like fish. Smart fish. Fish who know authors are out to get them, reel them in, and capture them for the rest of their seagoing lives. But, like any self-respecting fish, readers aren’t caught easily. They aren’t about to surrender themselves to the lure of your story unless you’ve presented them with an irresistible hook.

Our discussion of story structure very naturally begins at the beginning—and the beginning of any good story is its hook. Unless you hook readers into your story from the very first chapter, they won’t swim in deep enough to experience the rest of your rousing adventure, no matter excellent it is.
What is a hook?
The hook comes in many forms, but stripped down to its lowest common denominator, the hook is nothing more or less than a question. If we can pique our readers’ curiosity, we’ve got ‘em. Simple as that. The beginning of every story should present character, setting, and conflict. But, in themselves, none of these represent a hook. We’ve created a hook only when we’ve convinced readers to ask the general question, “What’s going to happen?” because we’ve also convinced them to ask a more specific question, such as “What scary reptilian monster killed the worker?” (Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton) or “How does a city hunt?” (Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve).
Where does the hook belong?
Because your ability to convince the reader to keep reading is dependent on your hook, it must be present as early as possible in your first scene. In fact, if you can get it into your first line, so much the better. However, the hook must be organic. Teasing readers with a killer opening line (“Mimi was dying again”) only to reveal all is not as seems (turns out Mimi is an actress performing her 187th death scene) not only negates the power of your hook, it also betrays readers’ trust. And readers don’t like to be betrayed. Not one little bit. Read more here.
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2 comments on “The Hook

  1. Thanks Jaimie. I always forget about the ending. This is good information to have and remind writers what to look for.

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  2. I read an interesting article in Writer’s Digest today that reminded me that the ending is even more important than the hook. Yes, ‘the hook’ will make your readers pick up a book, but it’s the ending that they’ll remember you for & if it’s not good, then they’ll be letting everyone know about it, lol. It also said that lots of agents will read first 50-60 pgs and then the last chapter. B/c after first 50-60 pages, they can tell if you’re a good enough writer, but they want to see if you can deliver at the end. ~Thanks for your post:)

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