Writing is something that has fascinated me for over forty years and I still find it amazing that it has done so. Other passions have come and gone, writing has kept me in its firm grip from the day that I first picked up a pen. I can remember being read Grimm’s Fairy Tales in one form or another and thinking the endings were dumb even though the beginnings had held great promise. Even then, I knew and understood that an incredible beginning was needed to make a story great.
Since those early years, I have learned the power of the hook as we writers call it. If you don’t get the readers with the first line, you may not get them at all. Therefore, your hook must pull them in from the very first moment and fulfill its promise to the very end. What must one do for a great hook, you might ask…here are some constant elements each and every hook must have. They are:
- It must be compelling
- Should be a beginning – The reason I say should here is because some books have started with the ending and have been quite successful. The hook is still there, just not how you expect it.
- It can start with dialogue.
- It can start with action.
- It could be a contrast or something totally unexpected.
- It could be a character description or a description of a setting.
- It could be a humorous question or exclamation or even a regular question or exclamation.
So let’s go over some hooks that have intrigued me over the years. Here’s a quick list of what I consider some of the best hooks in the world. See if you can guess who wrote them. The answers are listed below. They are, in no particular order:
- Hunting vampires was a bitch.
- He was running for his life.
- It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
- Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.
- It wasn’t a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance.
- Somewhere in the world, time no doubt whistled by on taut and widespread wings, but here in the English countryside it plodded slowly, painfully, as if it trod the rutted road that stretched across the moors on blistered feet.
Each one of those hooks have special meaning for me as I read each of those books at a different time in my life, some for school and some for pleasure. Realize this list ebbs and flows like a river, changing with time and never standing still. What I find inspiring today, I might find dull and boring the next. Notice there is a mix of classic and contemporary pieces. Some are romance and some are not. But each of them have something so compelling which makes me want to read more. And read them I did, some more than once and a few of them I still read yearly if I can remember just where I left my latest copy. LOL!
What comprises a good hook? Notice that with the ones I listed, there is not one standard theme. So just what is it? Like many writers, I can put my finger on how they should be written as well as the steps but not so much on why one is more compelling than another as it is all subjective.
I do know that each and every hook on this list called to something in me that needed to know more about the story and the characters. And that’s what every author needs to do with each and every book.
I’m right there with you as far as making my hooks the most compelling ever. This one has always been one of my personal favorites as it won quite a few contests with the most notable being at the Hawaii RWA conference. Leslie Wanger picked it as one of five from the whole room full of people.
“Damn, I’m going to lose another one.”
It is from my complete book, Midnight Run about a woman off-road racer. It was my first book ever, all 72K of it. And it sets on my computers in one form or another for the past 15 years at least. It has a great hook but a saggy middle with a kick-ass end. It on my list this year for pulling out and re-editing the heck out of it so it can be published, hopefully this year either by one of my traditional epublishers or maybe even self-published.
And here are the answers to my original list of hooks.
- Hunting vampires was a bitch. – Minion – L.A. Banks
- He was running for his life. – Hot Ice – Nora Roberts
- It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. – Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
- Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were. – Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
- It wasn’t a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance – Outlander – Diana Galbadon
- Somewhere in the world, time no doubt whistled by on taut and widespread wings, but here in the English countryside it plodded slowly, painfully, as if it trod the rutted road that stretched across the moors on blistered feet. – The Flame and the Flower – Kathleen Woodiweiss
After all, isn’t that what a hook is meant to do? Make you as the reader want to read the book?
Publisher: Shooting Star Books
Date Published: January 24, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 15K
The novella will be on sale for through February 14, 2015 at the discounted price of $0.99 then will go up to the price of $2.99.
Jenny Adams wasn’t a popular girl in high school. No one understood the attraction star-running back Reese MacGyver had for her, least of all Jenny. When it looked as if things were getting hot and heavy before going away to college, Reese put on the brakes by soliciting a promise from her that they would get together, if neither were taken, at their tenth high school reunion. In a split-second decision and because of her love for him, Jenny puts it all in, vowing to make good on a teenage wish.
But ten years is a long time to wait. While Jenny has had relationships come and go, the promise always remains on her mind even when Reese becomes the man of every woman’s dream. He’s been very busy with his life and has become one of the richest men under thirty in decades. Jenny has done good too but not nearly that good and she wonders if he’ll be a man of his word as their tenth reunion looms.
And as the day draws every closer, she wonders if it will all be worth the wait…
She had done her best to get out of their way but when one big, hunk of a guy mowed her down, she fell. Hard. Trying not to cry, she lifted her eyes to see a hand held out toward her.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to mow you down,” the deep voice said.
Shocked she looked up to see one of the school’s hottest football players smiling down at her. He had the bluest eyes and the darkest hair she had ever seen on a person. He dwarfed her like she had been a China doll. She tentatively lifted her hand to his and her heart beat faster as he helped her up.
“I sometimes don’t realize just how big I am. And then there are the guys…” He looked over her shoulder to his teammates who continued walking down the hall totally ignoring her like they had always done. It was like she was a gnat which they had to swat away. She blinked rapidly, not willing to let anyone see just how much they bothered her.
“It’s okay,” she had finally stammered out, brushing some dirt off her clothes as she checked to make sure everything still worked.
“Guys shouldn’t be knocking down girls no matter what the reason. My name’s Reese MacGyver. Have we met?” She should have been shaking but his intense stare rooted her to the spot.
“Reese?” She questioned, knowing she looked like a deer in headlights.
“It’s a family name.” His smile dazzled her.
“Oh. I’m Jenny and we haven’t met before.” She lowered her eyes, willing herself not to drool. The few friends she had would never believe it. She had been face to face with the cutest boy in high school and he wanted to know her name.
Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest though her latest adventure has taken her to Vienna, Austria with her husband of many years as he works his dream job. You can follow her adventures there in her blog, A Writer In Vienna (www.awriterinvienna.blogspot.com) or on twitter (www.twitter.com/oddlynn3) as well as her usual old hangouts. (www.lynncrain.com; www.lynncrain.blogspot.com and www.facebook.com/oddlynn3)