Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hook Your Reader

Hooking your reader:

When I was walking this morning, I thought about what I have learnt within the writing world of late, and 'hook' comes up so often.
Never do a back-story dump as a setup. Long-winded passages of back-story will have your reader putting the book down. Get your reader excited by starting right in the action. Toss her in there and don't let her out. Keep her riveted. Not that easy, eh? but with a few little tips we can achieve the hook at the beginning of a novel. Readers are clever, they can figure out what is happening.

Start with the POV of the main character, whether it is the hero or heroine, (one of the protagonists) Find a great first sentence that will hook the reader and follow with action to keep her there. Ending each chapter with a hook also is a great way to keep the reader turning to the next chapter eager to find out more.

When opening your novel show what is at stake, a kidnapping, domestic violence, a death. Whatever it may be think conflict. What is happening between your two characters? Draw your reader in by showing what is up front, and what the protagonist/s have to achieve to move forward and overcome this problem. A reader has to relate to that scene. If you toss a protagonist a wicked curve ball be sure someone eventually catches that ball and all loose ends are tied up by the end of the book.

That first page is essential so make it the best it can be. Stir up reader’s empathy by making characters suffer. Stir up the readers emotions. How would you react to this situation? Think about it, put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist. Close your eyes and let that emotion pour onto the page.

Don’t forget to trust your instincts, something many writers procrastinate. I’ll put my hand up to that one. By showing what is at stake it will draw the reader in and hopefully keep her there.

I think I’ve got that. lol What about you are you having trouble or do you breeze through the first pages and have an immediate hook, with a terrific opening sentence?


Kez said...

I just finished reading Dan Brown's Angels & Demons. Talk about ticking all the boxes on how to write an action thriller!! Short sentences, short scenes, action words, increasingly higher stakes, a time limit, no chapters as such - I just kept turning the pages.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

I've got the short sentences, action, yes and higher stakes, sort of time limit, but I have chapters. lol.... I must check it out. Thanks Kez. :)

Coleen Kwan said...

I'm terrible at first pages. But then, I'm a patient reader. I don't mind if the opening isn't all whizz bang fireworks, so long as it develops into something interesting.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Hi Coleen,
Thanks for stopping by. I think I can read a few pages until I'm hooked. In fact a novel I read of late took me three chapters until I really got interested. I perservered, some readers wouldn't have. I guess writers can't please everyone. I wish. lol..:)