Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for Hook

Hey thanks for stopping by here on your Saturday! I'm so so glad to have you. I"m still working on making rounds so if I haven't been by your blog yet, I'm getting there!

H is for Hook.

Nope, I don't mean going fishing, though as a little bit of trivia, I wear a charm around my neck that's shaped like a fat fish hook. It's carved from whale bone by the Chugach natives of Alaska. I got it when I was there two years ago and it has never left my neck. I love it.

There, see that white hook at my neck? Yep that's the one. Disregard that little blur that is my daughter. lol

But no that's not what I'm talking about today. I mean that hook that draws a reader in and hooks them so they can't put down the story. It's those first few pages that are so vital, and so tough to pull off.

Ever read Hooked by Les Edgerton? If not, and you're a writer, I highly recommend it. It's helped me a ton.

But today I want to direct you to a blog by a very talented writer. Back in January she read through all the entries on Nathan Bransford's Best First Paragraph contest. She then made a list of the commonalities that seemed to hold the paragraphs back and NOT hook the reader. Basically it's a list of what not to dos.
And it is so worth your while to read. If you're a writer of fiction and always on the lookout to improve your craft, Check out Elena Solodow's blog post here. Elena is also one of the 250 finalists in the ABNA contest and you can download the first few pages of her story for free on Amazon to see how she hooked the judges. Just check her blog for the link.

How about you? Any tricks for hooking a reader? Or if you don't write fiction, but read it, what is it about a story's first few pages that draws you in?

31 comments:

AllMyPosts said...

Hooking the reader with something in the background is very famous!!! Like memories of past visiting and traumatizing someone often, ...


or speaking about general truths in different manners would be cool too!!!

with warm regards
http://becomingprince.blogspot.com

mooderino said...

I try to pay attention when I'm reading a good book, but it's hard because when a hook works, you're too busy being hooked to study structure!
-mood
Moody Writing

Carole Anne Carr said...

P.K. it's so much easier when writing for children, for something is happening on every page, so no matter where you stop, there's the 'oh, what will happen next!' factor. :0)

Deirdra Eden-Coppel said...

I love your site and as I browsed your blog I decided to award you the Powerful Woman Writer Award.
Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.
~Deirdra

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I was well and truly hooked last night my pc refused to work so had to get someone in to fix it,loved the post, have a wonderful week-end.
Yvonne.

StandardSpicyWhatnot said...

My husband has a necklace like that. He got it in New Zealand. Interesting! Your little blur is very cute.

Catherine Denton said...

Action is always what I love or a question that doesn't seem logical. Thanks for the link, I'm gonna check Elana out.
My Blog

Lisa Potts said...

Elena's great. I haven't read her ABNA excerpt yet, but it's on my to-do list.

Your necklace is beautiful and tell you daughter she looks like a ghost in the picture. My kids always get a kick out of blurry pics.

DM said...

I love the book 'Hooked'. It has taught me alot about hooking the reader in the opening. What catches my eye is the intrigue of what comes next and where the story is leading me.

fOIS In The City said...

It's too early on Saturday morning to get "hooked" ... nevertheless ... you and Elena got to me.

I've only made about half those mistakes.

Instead of a sour note we need to hit the right cord and that ain't easy. I began reading Elena because of you ... I think I will now have to get Hooked as well. Thanks ... so far on your alpha trek into the blog you are doing a great job :)

Cute picture.

Lisa Gail Green said...

I'll have to go check it out. I like the necklace, and your little blur (I have one too). :D

Entre Nous said...

Don't be hooked by hooks...... :}

If you are interesting you ARE the hook, as well as the story, keep writing, it's like fine wine, gets better with time, which unhappily just reminded me of that saying college, referring to those less than endowed in the BOOB department, "Yah don't get fine wine from watermelons..." And no, it wasn't a hook!
:}

The Words Crafter said...

I've found that sometimes, it's the first few pages that hook me...or not.

Thanks much for the link, going over there now.

And don't you find that children are often a blur? They move so quickly!

Have a great weekend!

Carol Riggs said...

What a cool necklace! (love the little blur that's your daughter too) I remember reading Elena's post back when she wrote it--it's a very good summary! :)

Stephen Tremp said...

I don't think I have to have that WOW! opening sentence. But a reader does need to be hooked withing the first few paragraphs. But having a great opening sentence is great if you can think of one.

Bossy Betty said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I appreciate it! Thanks for the book suggestion!

Sophia Richardson said...

I read all the entries, too and I noticed I grew pickier as I progressed. It would be interesting if I went through the 55 I chose as examples of good first paragraphs and compared how many were in the first 100 or so compared to the rest of the entries. And 55 out of 1515 is really not a lot in the grand scheme of things but at the time it seemed like I was too easily impressed.

Starting in media res rather than dropping coy hints about 'that day when that thing happened' works as a hook. Don't tell me the story just show me!
- Sophia.

alexia said...

Hmmm, lots of things hook me. Action, if it's organic and not too abrupt. Voice. Clear writing (I don't like being too confused). Mystery or something unique and intriguing.

E.J. Wesley said...

You hooked me! :-) I'm going to go check out Elana's stuff!

EJ

Old Kitty said...

Lovely to see you and your daughter!!

Thanks for the info about the book and link to Elana's blog too!

I guess an intriguing first chapter would hook me in. It doesn't have to be "in your face" type writing, just enough to make me connect with the writing. I hope that makes sense! Take care
x

Tracy said...

cute photo...I really like that necklace!
Okay, hooks-I think when the scene gets your heart pumping becasue of an anticipated feeling or action and then leaves you hanging...that's a great hook!
I'g going to check out the website you suggested...
Happy A to Z!

kmckendry said...

Oooh I want to go to Alaska! You have me hooked on reading those! I'll check them out.

Elena Solodow said...

thanks so much for the shout-out!

doreen said...

I want to write fiction and I will as soon as I finish writing about the tragedies in my life. You have hooked me too and I am off to check out more of your posts and also your suggestions.

Alex F. Fayle said...

Wonderful reminders from that post. Thanks for linking to it. I'm not a fan of "never" in writing advice, but I think that most of the advice is great to remember.

As for me, I think a great hook (from a writing and reading perspective) needs to ask a question and give me a unique (or at least captivating) world, character or perception. It's why most fiction samples on my Kindle get deleted.

Amie Kaufman said...

I learned so much from Elena's post--I still can't believe she read them all! (And your little blur is adorable!)

Michael Di Gesu said...

Elena's post is VERY helpful. Thanks.

I generally like a bit of description. I don't like to be catapulted into a scene. Also prose that flows. Sentences that don't flow and are hard to read turn me off. If I have to work at reading, it isn't pleasurable even if the story is good.

Julie Musil said...

Ooooh! I'm so glad you posted that link. I'm going to check it out now. And btw, I love the blurry shot of your daughter :D

Nas Dean said...

You daughter's shot is lovely in the background!

Thanks for the links.

Kari Marie said...

I just purchased this book, but haven't read it yet. It looks really good though. Elena's post on the first paragraphs was sheer brilliance and such a great learning tool.

LTM said...

this is like getting into all those hard to define qualities. I'm hooked usually by the voice, or by an unusual situation or setting. But good one~ :o) <3