Writing the Hook

Saturday’s post was about the three important components of beginning pages. (See blog archives if you missed it.) Today I would like to give more information  about creating a good hook. Many craft books tell us to begin with the inciting incident.  This doesn’t mean there has to be intense action in the beginning lines. Do you know that some of the most intriguing hooks are created with a provocative statement?

Author Barbara Robinette Moss does this in the beginning paragraph of her memoir, Change Me Into Zeus’s Daughter.

Mother spooned the poisoned corn and beans into her mouth, ravenously, eyes closed, hands shaking.

There is no sense of place in this first line. No wild action. But the sentence pulls us in, hooks us with its words. We aren’t sure what is happening, but we will read on to find out.

What information are you giving your reader in your first sentences? Will it intrigue them? Is it provocative? Does it begin the questions in the reader’s mind that will propel them forward into the story?

Don’t send your story out into the world until your hook is perfect. Work on it. Tweak it. Read it aloud to anyone who will listen. That’s what it takes to make a great hook.

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