Think You Wrote a Great Hook for Your Book’s Beginning? Find Out Why It May Not Be Enough

Think You Wrote a Great Hook for Your Book’s Beginning? Find Out Why It May Not Be Enough

This week’s video talks about one of the most common misconceptions about a great hook for your book’s beginning and shows you how to take grabbing your readers to the next level.

Video Transcript:

You know all about the hook for your book’s beginning, right? The hook is that tiny, important little bit of awe you plant in readers’ minds in the first chapter in order to hook their curiosity and reel them in, so they’ll keep reading. The single most important thing to understand about the hook is that it is fundamentally a question—whether implicit or explicit. We plant it in the readers’ minds, and it’s that resultant curiosity that draws them in and keeps them reading.

The hook is a tricky enough business all on its own. It’s hard coming up with a situation or implication fresh and interesting enough to grab readers. But it gets a little trickier—or less tricky, depending on how you look at it—because the hook can’t act on its own. The hook doesn’t live in isolation. It’s not a one-and-done kinda thing. You can’t just plant it in your first paragraph, call it good, and forget all about it. The hook isn’t a singular entity. There’s not just one of them. There has to be many of them, one right after the other.

Now obviously, this does make our job a little tougher, since we have to continue thinking of hooks—questions—to keep piquing our readers’ curiosity. But at the same time, it simplifies matters because it means the first hook we come up with doesn’t have to be monumental enough to keep readers’ attention, all by itself, throughout the entirety of the book.

Rather, the first hook just has to interest them long enough to get them to the next hook, which has to interest them long enough for them to reach and be once again entranced by the next hook—and so on, not just through the first chapter, but through the whole book.

What I want you to do today is take a look at the hook for your book’s beginning. Have you followed it up with another hook that’s just as great—and another and another? If so, you’re on your way to an awesome page-turner. If not, you know what to do!

Tell me your opinion: What is the hook for your book’s beginning? What is the hook that follows it up?

Think You Wrote a Great Hook for Your Book’s Beginning? Find Out Why It May Not Be Enough

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K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website.

Comments

  1. This lesson about The Hook is important.
    I learned about the hook a number of years ago when I sent a manuscript (via snail mail) to an agent in Toronto. I had a great story to tell, and great expectations. Eventually the response returned (via snail mail) regretting that the agent would not take me on. Her stated reason was that she did not handle fiction that suggested immorality. Well, immorality was not the theme, though it was brushed on late in the story. She added a telling comment, which I cherish to this day as a great lesson in writing.
    The novel,, she said, did not begin until chapter three.
    Once I had got over my fury about barely existent immorality…
    The lightbulb went on.
    I deleted the first three chapters. DELETED them. Threw them in the bin.
    Today I have no memory what was in those chapters. The Hook occurs in the opening pages of chapter three.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Very often, authors need a few chapters to “clear their throats” in order to discover the stories true hook. Nothing wrong with that. It’s an important part of the drafting process. We just have to be able to realize what needs cutting later on, and our own lack of objectivity about our work can make that hard!

      • Absolutely. Hemmingway was once told about his rough draft that “you needed to write the first 73 pages, but we do not need to read them.” You may need to write in order to discover your character’s motivations, goals, internal obstacles and reasons, then knowing them, your writing will take on a subtle difference that will entrance your reader. This is what others have called “killing your babies” when you have to throw out those early pages that taught you so much but the reader does not need to read.

    • It’s funny, because a friend of mine told me that’s quite common. Many novels actually start on chapter 3. Mine sure did. What’s now chapter 1 used to be chapter 3. I didn’t delet them, but I sure turned them around.

      • I am not the least fearful about killing my darlings. The words will always come when you want them. I hesitate to save deleted sections of a novel because, should I cut-and-paste those words elsewhere, they tend to look like a patch of weeds in the middle of an otherwise smooth lawn.
        The three chapters I removed were setting up the background, introducing important characters, and foreshadowing World War Two.
        Chapter three introduced the first whiff of personal conflict. I went on to introduce the major characters as they stepped into the forward motion of the story. The foreshadowing of the war fell into place as the protagonist worked upon its planning.
        All of it is motion rather than reflection.
        But I have heard the same thing – that many agents and publishers – almost by standard routine, may instruct a writer to discard the first three chapters. It begins to sound like robots at work.
        But also, as K.M. has said, we really do need to clear our throat. The big trick is to recognise the true start of the story.

      • I agree

  2. OMG, I ignored the question, “What is the hook for your book’s beginning?”

    That particular novel, ‘The English General’, is about a German general in WW II who is distressed by the excesses of Hitler’s regime, but who cannot disobey legitimate orders.
    The opening hook is quiet. Understated, in fact. The general’s newly-appointed aide has requested a transfer to a fighting unit. The general signs the request because he suspects his new aide may have been assigned by the Gestapo to spy on him. We know the general’s thoughts. We do not know the aide’s thoughts, but there is a glitter in his Aryan blue eyes.
    Toward the end of the novel…
    Well, let’s not provide any spoilers.

  3. Although I’m still not happy with the actual wording of my opening paragraph, it’s a quiet hook, i.e., it talks about the POV character’s decision (not described) and how it’s irreversible and that the time for reconsideration is past.

    In the second paragraph, you see her in the woods with a sawed-off shotgun in her backpack. I think that raises another question.

    In the opening chapter she kills a pedophile, making it look like a suicide.

    Of course she makes decisions (bad ones) throughout the entire novel, but the main decision is whether or not she’ll stay a part of the conspiracy of women who decide to rid the world of pedophiles. The decision issue is key to the whole novel and is referred to at the end, a kind of full circle.

    I think I may have succeeded at creating a page-turner, which was my primary objective…at least that’s what reviewers are saying.

    But, in a way, I think some people “get” this without studying the craft, i.e., they are born storytellers. Studying the craft helps them to strengthen what is innate. Others need the craft to learn how to create those story questions, and some never really “get” it even with much study.

    Posts like this help all of us. Thanks so much.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Good chain of hooks! Irreversible decisions that aren’t immediately described are always good question-raisers.

  4. Louis Wilberger says:

    Loved you hook video and I wonder what you think about using a short prologue as a hook.
    Very short. For example.
    Prologue
    It was a sunny day 1986. The kind of day that made old folks take a stroll in the park and remember snuggling after enjoying a homemade picnic. In Oakland, California, the homeless stood in lines at soup kitchens. Some were hungry; all were looking for a place to stay off of the street.
    She was the ant. Building her future brick by brick. He was the grasshopper. A teller of tales. His stories kept the minds of the less fortunate off of their plight. She worked a day job and spent her free time studying to be a Police Officer.
    He told stories using mime-like moves for emphasis. His rich baritone voice captured passersby and held them spellbound. While he told his latest tale…
    The ant was hard at work.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      In general, I am always cautious of prologues, since they are inevitably fraught with pitfalls. However, my favorite examples are always brief snippets that set the stage and offer a hook. This functions well on both counts. Good job.

  5. Great post, Kim! You have me rethinking things…I’ve been going through my MG adventure to see if there is tension in each scene. But now I’m going to follow that up with tracking what the hook is from one to the next and make sure they keep coming, as you said, one right after the other.

    Thank you!

  6. I am always reading about this “hook” like it is the most important thing in the world or else your novel is doomed.I cannot tell you how many times books are recommended and people will say, “It is a little slow, but keep reading and it get’s better.” (i.e. Gone Girl) Many of today’s biggest sellers are lacking in the first 100 pages! I will admit I am the first to pick up a book and if it isn’t interesting in the first paragraph or so, I ditch it! But it doesn’t necessarily have to be the hook…it is the style of the writing or the era I am not interested in, not necessarily the lack of “hook.” If agents/publishers were consistent in this belief in a hook, I would be all over doing it. But sometimes a book does start after chapter 3…when you are introduced to people and places. And many successful books testify to this. So, I will take your advice and review my first few chapters to make sure I am leading my reader forward….

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Some readers (the best readers, I would argue) are more patient than others. The hook *is* super important, but you’re totally right about its being much less important than other elements in the overall scheme of things. What *is* important in the beginning is simply catching the readers’ interest, and sometimes tone is as effective as anything at that.

      • Zeph Snell says:

        But how can I tell if my hook is good enough to capture my readers?

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

          Once you’re satisfied with it, find some beta readers on whom you can test it. Ask them if the hook interests them enough to keep them reading.

  7. Louis Wilberger says:

    Thanks for the comment. It also let me set up chapter one with a paragraph explaining that the grasshopper (Davy) had collapsed before he finished the story, and who the ant (his sister, Maxine) got the call from (Kevin) who told her he was in the hospital. The hook at the other end was that Davy was gone when she got there.

  8. I set up the introduction for my debut novel Forgotten Destiny by having an alien carry a comatose body through the streets while he’s being fired at by unknown enemies. Of course, the hook is about who is the alien, who is the body, and why are they being pursued. I try to set up a series of questions all at once that will be answered gradually. Then, when my protagonist finds the body abandoned in an alleyway, with this idea that the single event will change her life forever, there are a dozen more questions to accompany the question about who this body happens to be and why it should matter so much to our protagonist. These questions form the crux of the first book, but the other questions form the catalyst for subsequent novels still in progress.

    I try to do a lot of free writing. And I find that having these questions firmly in mind keeps the writing exciting for me. Though I want more than anything to be an author and share my world with others, thinking of the story as a fun exercise for me as a writer is what keeps me around until the answers come together.

  9. Susi Franco says:

    Okay, this is a down-and-dirty-NOT-finished intro and I’m a nervous wreck about sharing it for the first time, but here goes….

    In my book, the roughed out opening scene, which is my first hook 🙂 , we see one of the MC’s ( Lily) ancestors:

    Heavy with child, copper-haired, luminous-eyed Anna Mary Margaret Campbell is happily strolling the cobblestoned High Street to shop the colorful,noisy Luckenbooth markets of 1600’s Inverary, Scotland.

    She’s a noblewoman and being petite and fair of countenance, attracts alot of attention. A young Countess, she’s accompanied by her ladies’ maid,which along with her fine clothing marks her as a person of high birth. As she looks for toys and nursery fittings in the vendor’s market stalls, absentmindedly rubbing her rotund belly in the way pregnant women often do, she’s approached by an aged beggar with wildly matted coal black hair and crow-like eyes glittering from the deep creases of her leathery face. The beggar moves boldly close to Anna Mary Margaret, an action strictly forbidden by aristocratic etiquette , in particular for a noblewoman unaccompanied by a man. Anna sees the beggar’s pentagram necklace and strangely embroidered robes, identifying her as Romani Gypsy witch. She thrusts her grimy hand out to Anna , startling her, demanding coin , unfurling stiletto-long nails with half-moons of embedded soil curling over her wizened palm.

    Protective of her unborn child, the beautiful Countess backs away, telling the Gypsy “Awa’ wi’ ye!” in a quavering voice, her chin lifted high to hide her fear of the dreaded witch. Glowering at the insult the Gypsy steps even closer, pushing her face into Anna’s, warning her “Mi’Lady, ye ought nae turn awa’ from them what may be Angels amongst us”, growling out the phrase with an unmistakably menacing and un-Angel-like sneer. The witches’ foul breath makes Anna shudder as she feels an acid retch build in the back of her throat.

    Feeling cornered, her heart hammering, the Countess “scores” the sinister Gypsy: almost reflexively strikes out with her nails and scratches the Gypsy’s forehead, drawing the thinnest razor of blood. Scoring was believed to negate the fearful powers Gypsy witches reputedly had. Lamentably , it infuriated the Gypsy beyond anything Anna was prepared for. The Gypsy’s eyes burned hot and unblinking as she wiped the blood from her face. The ladies’ maid readied to jump between the two women, determined to protect the Countess and her baby. In one short breath it was too late; the die was cast. The witch had lowered her body into a tight coil and sprung at Anna like a cobra, pointing and snarling “Every third female bairn born to your line will forever an’ a day ha’ fatal bad luck, mis’ry a-plenty an’ no true love to warm her heart nor hearth, from this day forward to all time to come !”

    Several townsfolk stopped their shopping and gathered to watch but kept their distance; one did not interfere with the matters of nobility, especially when witches were involved. The gasps from the onlookers was audible when they heard the curse put on tender Anna Mary Margaret Campbell; many crossed themselves as protection.

    As the witch whirled away, the ladies’ maid angrily threw a clod of dirt at her, hitting the back of her robes. The Gypsy turned to face them again making a series of rapid geometric gestures, calling the “mal’occhia”, the fearsome evil eye, on the maid, who huffed outward as if she’d been hit hard in the stomach. Her face paralyzed into an open-mouthed mask of sheer terror and she folded limp onto herself, dropping dead on the spot. The Gypsy Witch cackled and clapped her hands, muttering in Romani to herself.

    The horrified, thunderstruck Countess screamed for her companion who could no longer answer.

    The Gypsy scurried away leaving a trail of dark dust billowing behind her. Anna fell to her knees, hugging her large belly, shrieking from the surprise of sudden sharp pain.

    The labor was ‘come on’ too early, and thus the tale begins.

    The next chapter opens centuries later as one of Anna’s descendants, Lily Rebecca Turache, a modern 21rst century woman, struggles mightily with the effects of an unknown construct , unable to fathom the dark force which seems to impact every decision she makes. Lily is newly divorced and deeply saddened from it. She is a baker by trade, owns a small shop she works day and night in to make successful, enduring a chain of uncanny and devastating personal and professional setbacks. Lily is hanging on by a slender thread.

    Lily begins to become dimly aware of a unsettling presence around her. Countess Anna Mary Margaret, now the Unseen Beloved, struggles from a non-corporeal world to assist her precious descendant Lily, a third daughter and the very last in the line of Anna’s royal blood. This fact is unbeknownst to Lily, has been lost over the many hundreds of years and beleaguered female relatives passing between the two women.

    Because Lily can’t yet see or hear her, a frustrated Anna recruits a few other of Lily’s Unseen Beloved ancestors, and together the spirits invisibly endeavor to shield Lily from the misfortune of The Curse. The Unseen Beloved become unusually creative in their efforts to reach Lily , to make her hear them before The Curse reaches a crescendo and destroys Lily’s entire life, perhaps even kills her. They alone know what she must do to escape The Curse’s lethal grip, but communicating with the living from the non-corporeal world is hazardous, carries many cataclysmic taboos.

    As a melancholy Lily rolls out pie dough in her shop and sprinkles flour on it’s surface, strange marks, which she eventually recognizes as words, begin to appear in the dust the flour makes on the countertop. Has she lost her mind ?!? Has all her bad luck made her snap ? Or is someone trying to tell her something…….

    Lily begins baking frenetically, to see more of the phenomenon of messages in the flour, fearing the dire consequences of telling anyone what is happening to her, not entirely certain she isn’t crazy. Her closest friend Sarah knows something’s troubling Lily beyond the obvious recent causes of heartache but can’t get it out of her; she worries about her dear friend that can’t seem to be comforted, can’t seem to find any locus of happiness in her life.

    Dealing with the Unseen Beloved has many implications in Lily’s life and affects every single relationship she has; some hysterically funny and others poignant and heart-rending. One of the direct results of their communication efforts is that Lily’s shop begins to become unexpectedly successful with surprising life-altering results.

    How will what she sees written in the flour affect her life ? Can a cursed 21 century woman who communicates with her dead Medieval ancestors ever find real and lasting love, success and happiness ?

    What tainted fate awaits Lily if she can’t decipher all the flour messages in time ?

    Hoping these are some of my continuing hooks….. 🙂

    Thank you for taking time to consider this. I am still tooling it, agonizing over it, working on hooks, working at making it take shape, making decisions for it. Boy, is this ever a process ! …..Best Regards, Susi

    P.S.—it happens that I am an enthusiastic somewhat-accomplished baker in real life. 🙂 I am thinking of putting actual recipes here and there in the book
    ( think ” Be-My-Love Rhubarb Strawberry Pie”, or “Heartache Resolved Caramel Apple Pudding” etc), hoping people might catch on and try them, hopefully may come to be ‘wishes one bakes’….… :):):)

    A sort of “lagniappe” for the readers…..

    Thanks so much to any who actually read it all… LOL :):):):)

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      This is a fun premise! If I were to make one suggestion (and it’s definitely something of an uninformed suggestion, since I’m only seeing this tiny snippet of your story), I would suggest considering actually opening your story with Lily. Her experience is a great hook and will help readers care about her past more than the other way around. If you’re going to be switching back and forth between timelines, you could then use the gypsy scene for the second chapter.

      • Susi Franco says:

        So this bit of backstory would come after the intro to Lily…how do I deftly allude to the original hook ( the Curse) in Lily’s time w/o confusing readers? …..I admit I’m a lil confused myself about that but WAY open to suggestion.

        I’ve recently taken a novel-writing webinar that discusses switching back and forth between eras/timelines as a mistake first-timers often make, so I endeavored not to do that. I want it to be smooth, cohesive,organic but compelling/interesting, of course….any tips would be humbly, profoundly appreciated. 🙂

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

          I love multiple timelines when they’re done well, but it is true they’re often very tricky to pull off (more on that here: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/6-ways-to-pull-off-dual-timelines-in/. I obviously have no idea where you’re headed with this story or how the whole thing will “feel,” so take what I’m saying with a grain of salt. However, in general, it’s often wisest to focus on one main character. Let readers discover the backstory as it becomes important. Use it as a hook. Lily’s contact with the ghost is a good hook and a good hint of her past. Readers will be curious to know why the countess is haunting Lily. Instead of offering an explanation right away, you can take advantage of that curiosity to keep them reading by stretching out the suspense.

    • More please Susi, I think I’m hooked.

      • Susi Franco says:

        Dear Robin. Dearest,sweet Robin…….LOL :):):):)
        You made the tears spring to my eyes from sheer gratitude, girl.

        Thank you for the very best & choicest compliment I’ve gotten thus far on my WIP book….

        I am bowing in your general direction, Madame~ :):) xoxoxox
        Best Regards, Susi

  10. Louis Wilberger says:

    The other detriment to a good hook is authors trying to be literary. Although it is possible to create the velvet hook necessary for the literary mind. most authors who are just beginning lack the experience at crafting the genre. Even an attempt at using metaphorical or allegorical devices in the hands of the novice creates a plodding start. As to setting up an idyllic world normalcy can be done after the question is posed and just before the hook is set.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Agree. Whatever we do, we need to do it brilliantly. And not every story will work well with a subtle opening hook. Then again, of course, not every story will work will with a blatant hook either.

    • Susi Franco says:

      Would you mind explaining, Louis, what you mean by ‘authors trying to be literary’ ? I’d like to understand that.

    • My WIP is a (literary) romance. I have a subtle opening hook, and then build upon it with two slightly less subtle hooks. None of them are hit-you-over-the-head hooks, but I don’t want to manufacture implausible drama just for the sake of an uber-impactful hook. Do you have any suggestions for creating a gripping hook in a more subtle literary story? @Louis – what is this “velvet hook” you speak of? I would love to know how to craft one of those!

      • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

        Questions. It always comes down to getting the reader to ask questions. Sometimes this is actually easier in a quieter type of story. The key is to create some kind of juxtaposition or dichotomy–a sense that something is “off” in the story world–which will hopefully pique the readers’ curiosity and get them to read on to find the answer.

        • Thank you! Reading this post got me thinking about how to improve my subtle hook and I came to the same conclusion… questions. When I thought about getting the reader to ask questions, I was quickly able to envision at a better opening scene with a clearer hook.

          Now I need to add a sense of dichotomy… although I struggle with that word. Do you mean I should create conflict? Could it be an internal conflict? My story opens with a man who has never been in love, despite his prolific number of short term relationships. What’s “off” in his mind, is himself. (Gosh, it sounds dumb and unoriginal even as I type this!) There are other plots and sub-plots to his story, but this is the main barb… his belief that he is unloveable. I just don’t know how to position it in the first scene so it’s unique and compelling to readers. I still have a long way to go to make this work… questions and dichotomy will be my contemplation words!

          • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

            Conflict is always good. Internal conflict is fabulous. But “dichotomy” just means a subtle juxtaposition or use of irony, such as in Jane Austen’s famous first line for Pride and Prejudice or Tolstoy’s in Anna Karenina. You just need to find a way of indicating the crossroads at which your character finds himself.

  11. thomas h cullen says:

    Seeing the whole path, including its destination.. Then implementing the rigour needed to fulfil it all.

    Thinking up hook after hook, imagining future development, or ways of revising past development: the decision-making is easy, the difficult part’s all having the patience and the courage to “actualise” it all.

    I’m unsure I digress, but the emphasis needs to be placed I believe not onto the challenge of finding an idea, but maintaining onto one. Same with reality: the easy part is me or whoever just thinking of something, that’s fascinating to say; the hard part’s implementing the rigour and the courage of thought needed to correctly say it…

    The thinking up is in fact easy; the crafting of your fiction, in parallel to fitting yourself in with the rest of the world is the actual challenge.

    Knowing the end, yet then still exercising the will to journey the beginning and middle is the very hardest of endeavours.

    • Susi Franco says:

      THAT gets a big “AMEN!”, Thomas. It’s a daunting task in every single way possible. I’ve been researching/studying/reading about this craft for over three years as a prelude to starting this novel and was literally paralyzed by the enormity of the work. Some days it’s felt like “Oh why bother, I can’t make it perfect”, but all I’ve read and studied says “just write!” and I’m finally doing that. Edith Wharton said “The hardest part about writing is writing”. I totally get that.

      Hooks. *sigh*. Gotta have ’em.

      • thomas h cullen says:

        You bring up a topic far more relevant than any can “naturally” imagine, Susi. In actual fact, what is perfect writing? (For my part, saying something perfectly means just having something that’s valid to say, and so that any will get what you say.)

        Crafting fiction is enormous work; though only because of a human being’s constantly having to accommodate numerous arenas of endeavour.

        Your own post was exceptionally long.. Respect to you!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      I agree. Consistency is key. One great idea is better than half a dozen great ideas in the same book.

  12. Louis Wilberger says:

    I was just wondering. Have you done anything on the question. The best sellers all seem to pose it right away. In my example Why did Davy collapse and What will Maxing find when she gets to the hospital. The question can be a hook in itself.

  13. Louis Wilberger says:

    Someone trying to be literary/creative has decided that structure and plotting is beneath them and although they might have natural abilities their inters in metaphor and allegory is what drives their prose. Convention be damned I want to be different. They write long involved intros and choose mundane and depressing subjects and sacrifice story in the process.

    • Susi Franco says:

      Aaaaaaaaaaah, Louis, now I see what you mean ! I’m so bloody self-conscious that at first I thought you were talking to ME about being “literary”. :):):):) I thought, Oh God, yet another element to worry about /stress over/consider alcoholism for….

      I grasp your point, though and understand. I’ve read a few authors who would be guilty of that. Thank you for taking time to explain it.
      Best Regards, Susi

  14. Louis Wilberger says:

    My pleasure. James Scott Bell explains it a little better in is book Super Structure. Scribble on Mac Duff.

  15. I always like reading posts about the hook for some reason… strange.

  16. I’m part of the HWA (Horror Writer’s Association) and I’m on the roster to receive author submissions to have their work read and reviewed to be nominated for a Stoker Award. One of the most common disappointments I’ve encountered is the use of flash-forward prologues: hooks that actually take place toward the middle or end of the book, but are used as the first few pages before chapter 1 begins. I’m not strictly opposed to prologues if they are done correctly such as in certain Agatha Christie novels, but I just don’t see them as an effective strategy for hooks.

    For me, the hook up to the first 15 pages or so are the most difficult to write. I wonder, do other authors find the hook easier to write than I do?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      I sure don’t. :p Occasionally, you’ll come up with a story idea that comes complete with an awesome hook for the first chapter. The vast majority don’t. It’s a tricky business finding a good hook within the space to also introduce character, setting, and conflict.

  17. K.M., can you give a couple examples of great hooks from well-known novels?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      The opening hook in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game is the great line, “I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one. Or at least as close as we’re going to get.”

      Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is, of course, a classic one: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

      I can’t remember the opening line of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games, but the whole reference to the Reaping and its inherent stakes and ramifications is a great hook.

      You might enjoy checking out the Story Structure Database, which shows you the structure of lots of great stories, including their opening hooks.

  18. Thank you for the great advice, but do you have any experience with hooks in in-media-res novels? I’m trying my hand at one at the moment and much of the writing help I can find, while very wise, doesn’t always work for the first parts of my novel because of this. If anyone has some tips for hooks–or anything for that fact–with in-media-res stories, I would greatly appreciate it.

  19. I’ve got plenty of with hooks too many, I think. I’m going to have to go though the book, write down all those hooks and make sure they get answered. Help. -whimper-

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says:

      Better the challenge of answering all your hooks than running too short of them!

      • Again sorry for taking forever to reply. I didn’t think of it that way, thanks. 🙂 It’s amazing what a mess the first and even 4-5th draft can be. Then the hooks that worked before have to be deleted and new ones made. Still, it’s nice when a critic that came in before saying that it’s fixed. ^-^ Onward to the next chapter! lol.

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  1. […] The hook is a tricky enough business all on its own. It’s hard coming up with a situation or implication fresh and interesting enough to grab readers. But it gets a little trickier—or less tricky, depending on how you look at it—because the hook can’t act on its …read more […]

  2. […] 1. From K.M. Weiland’s awesome blog, here is a post about your novel’s beginning: Think You Wrote a Great Hook for Your Book’s Beginning? Find Out Why It May Not Be Enough […]

  3. […] that it had to make them want to read till the end. If this was your assumption take a look at her article and see what she has to say about […]

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