Monday, September 17, 2007

Hook Your Reader

I truly hunted for a cartoon that I could put up here, but nothing caught my eye or "hooked" me like this!

For all of you who like to “hook” an editor and a reader on the first page, I’m going to give you the list of items I received from Mary Buckham’s workshop. These are the elements to use on your first page that will hook a reader or editor:

1) The totally unexpected

2) Introduction of a unique character

3) Shocking or clever dialogue

4) Foreshadowing

5) A classic tale or theme

6) A surprise situation

7) Danger or Action

8) Setting that evokes mood or theme

9) Overpowering emotion

10) A question directly raised

You can use one or more of these hooks.

Also from Mary’s Pacing workshop I gathered this information. Some of it I knew some of it was eye opening:

Hooks can keep a reader turning the page and bring up the pacing.

Hooks are:

Action or danger

Overpowering emotion

Surprising situation

An evocative description to pull the reader into a setting

Introducing a unique character

Warning or foreshadowing

Setting a tone or theme

Shocking or witty dialogue

The totally unexpected

Raising a direct question

Where you put hooks:

Opening sentence of a book

Opening paragraph

End of the first page (usually line 16-20)

End of the third page

End of third chapter

Opening a chapter

Ending a chapter

Each new scene

Writing a series- the last sentence of the book

The reasoning on the first five are: If an editor of reader picks up the ms. or book you want to hook them with the opening, then you want to hook them at the bottom of the first page so they will turn the page, and if you can get them hooked at the third page they will keep reading and are snagged . Also you want a hook a the end of the third chapter because most partials are three chapters so whether its an editor or a contest entry, you want the person reading to ask for more.

Your story goal should be made known to the reader by page three.

The beginning of every chapter you need three details to set place- 2 visual and 1 sensory- always set place at the beginning of a chapter.

The strongest hooks raise questions or reactions in a reader.

I didn’t realize there were so many places to put hooks in. I knew the first page and I knew the end of a chapter so they will read the next one, but some of the others were new to me. Also beginning a chapter with three details to set place. I felt if you kept the reader reading, they knew place since they haven’t left the book. So that was one of the many things I learned at this workshop.

And this is only a minuscule amount of the info I learned and will keep feeding you over the next couple of months.

Have you used any of the the above list on the first page in any of your books? If so which ones and give us an example.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Sorry, that was my deleted post. I forgot some punctuation and wanted to redo my post. Duh! LOL


Thanks for this helpful blog Paty! Great list, and I'm excited to hear more about what you've learned.

I don't have any examples. A person would have to write more than I ever do to have examples. LOL

Sounds like that workshop you attended was chock full of great info.

Can't wait to read other's examples of hooks and what they like to use the most!

Paty Jager said...

Here is my example:

Her knuckles turned white and her eyes shone with unshed tears. “These can’t be your parents,” she said in a strangled whisper.
“Why can’t they be my folks? Because their too pretty?” Zeke Halsey watched the woman he planned to marry, continue to stare at the tintype in her shaking hands.
“No. Pa said that man was his brother.”

Items in this:
1) The totally unexpected
3) shocking or clever dialogue
4) foreshadowing
6) a surprise situation
10) a question raised

Alice Sharpe said...

Paty, I'm glad you got so much out of the workshop. It sounds as though much of what Mary had to say resonated with you in a positive way.

I think most successful writers do most of these things most of the time without thinking about it. It's all tension and pacing. As for exact moments when hooks etc... have to happen, I'm not sure I agree with Mary or that I disagree.

Writing is an art, not merely a craft and I for one am leery of a list of must haves (this must be at the beginning of a new chapter, this must be at the end of each scene... )

Worrying about this kind of stuff as I wrote wouldn't work for me. It's far too analytical. Perhaps, though, if a writer is having trouble with tension, this list could act as a guideline for investigating a project to see if you can find where you let the ball drop.

Interesting blog.

wavybrains said...

Great post Paty!! I'm bookmarking this one to come back to when I have more brain cells!! The part about the different places to use hooks was really helpful :)

Barrie said...

I love a book that starts with dialogue. Right in the middle of a conversaton. Interesting post.

Genene said...

Hey, Paty!

Great hook -- and the information was good also! LOL!

Now, what was your question? Oh yeah ...

Here's my example:
Don't you die on me too, Zach Zacata. The thought richocheted thorugh Lauren Westover's mind in tandem with the spotlight flashing across the stage.

This uses:
-An overpowering emotion
-Warning or foreshadowing
I think!

I really like Mary's workshops and love lists to use as guidelines. I don't go back and make sure I've followed every single suggestion but, as always, adapt what works for my stories and don't worry about the rest.

Thanks for the great info!

Love your example, by the way.