Thursday, February 25

New Feature & How To Write a Hook!

Definition: monotonous, dull
Example: My American literature class is always humdrum.
Now, I got several emails over my Hooking Your Readers post. Many of you were wondering how to write those one sentence "nabs" as I call them. I wish there was some secret formula to tell you. Unfortunately, like everything else in writing, there's no easy way to do this. However, I will share a few tricks I've learned. As always, take them with caution. Just because these work for me, does not mean they will work for you. Again, I will be using examples from my own writing. Two you've seen for sure, but the others you haven't.
  • Always start in the middle of a scene. This is the biggest, most important advice I can give you. As you may have noticed with my hooks from The Sound of Snow, I started in the middle of each scene. Don't believe me?
"Kitty was ready to kill someone, damn the consequences."

"With five younger sisters, William Huntley, the sixth earl of Rochester, had thought he’d seen it all. Lord, had he been wrong."
  • Next, I've seen several books where they begin with a question. Although these work sometimes, I find more often than not they are redundant. It's like putting a question in your query letter, like: Have you ever seen a one-legged Rastafarian mow grass while riding a bike with his crutch?* Clearly most people have never seen that, so the question is dumb. The only time this works, in my opinion, is if the question nabs your attention and you want to find out WHY the author is asking you this. Another way this works is if the character comes back with some smart ass response, or some response that makes the question more amusing, like:
Have you ever seen a one-legged Rastafarian mow grass while riding a bike with a crutch? Neither have I.*
  • Statements are also very good at nabbing the readers attention. Again, you want the feeling of immediacy. Earlier I talked about starting in the middle of the scene, and this is what I mean. Even if the rest of your beginning has a slower feel to it, you have to have something instantly grab the reader and suck them in.
The thunder of horses woke her.
Using the moonlight that filtered in from the intricate wood screens as a guide, Adeena drifted down the private corridor to her father’s study.

His brother asked too much.
With his legs braced apart and his hands fisted at his sides, William de Clare stared incredulously at his lord. “Tell me you jest.”
Okay, now B.E. made a good point in the comments about hooking. She said that you need to "[h]ook 'em at the beginning and also at the end - of each chapter, each scene and anywhere else the reader's attention might wander." This is an excellent point that I did not address last time. Hooks aren't used only at the beginning of the book, or even at the beginning of each chapter. They are used everywhere. It is your JOB to hook your readers and want them to keep reading. But since that takes a much more detailed post than I have time for, I will just talk about beginning hooks and ending hooks. Here is an ending hook (admittedly not my best, but I don't want to post all my best stuff on here):
“Lord have mercy,” Elizabeth breathed, her eyes glued to his powerful frame.
Kitty nodded, unable to speak. She felt hot all over, flushed; her heart rate kicking into overtime as she continued to stare at him. Her mouth was dry. Her skin tingly.
Who was he?
I hope this helps those of you having troubles with hooks. If you would like some help with a hook or would like an opinion, feel free to email me!
*Yes, I actually have seen a one-legged Rastafarian mowing while riding his bike with his crutch. In 2006 I camped in the Jamaican jungle...but that's a story for another day.*


  1. OOO OOO - Me too me too!! Such an interesting visual almost seems made up- oh the memories...what was his name again?

  2. Bookmarked and printed for my writing folder - awesome post, Natalie! I love it.

  3. Loved this post!!! Brilliant! I'm with shannon... this has been bookmarked!

  4. Oh, where were you 6 months ago? I wish I had known about the middle of the scene trick. But now that I do, I'll keep it in mind. Great post.

  5. Excellent post, Nat. And thanks for the shout-out. I did a post a while back about hooks, but I think it was at my old blog. If I can find it, I'll send you the link.

    And girlfriend, you are gonna have to tell me that story sometime. Ya mahn. ;o)

  6. I find (with my writing at least) that another good way to start into things is with some sort of line of dialogue. Kinda makes you want to know where it came from.

    Good post =)

  7. Mum- Lol Desmond! Thank goodness Dad remembered his name!

    Shannon- Awww thanks =) I'm glad to help!

    Jen- Thanks!!! =)

    Piedmont Writer- Heh, sorry! Glad you know now though =)

    B.E.- Thanks hun! And you're quite welcome =) LOL! Yeah, I was thinking maybe I'll do a post on it one day.

    Amber- LOL! You're adorable.

    Meg- Yes, I didn't mention dialogue, but I meant a hook using anything, lol. I've started several scenes with dialogue-- but as well, the dialogue needs to hook.

  8. Awesome post on hooks, Nat!

    I think we all want to hear about the one-legged Rastafarian. Please share!!! :)

  9. I love the bit about remembering to hook the reader at the beginning and end of each scene, chapter etc. That's wonderful advice! Thanks for being chock full of information!

  10. Original. This blog looks good.
    Daniel D. Peaceman, writer and editor

  11. GREAT post and excellent advice! You are great at hooks, and sucking the reader right into the story :)

  12. Jennifer- Thanks!! Haha, yes, I will write a blog post about it soon.

    Heather- Thanks! And you're welcome =)

    Daniel- Thanks!

    Di- Thanks hun =) *blushes*


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