Thursday, November 10, 2011


This was originally guest posted at the dojo

At Viable Paradise, the conversation came around several times to the relationship between the writer and the reader. It's a strange relationship, when you think about it, especially since it's between two people who may never meet. One of them can be dead, even.

But I want to put down a thought or two about hooks, here. We have all seen the advice to hook your readers with action, or character, or at least drama. Some of the advice makes it sound like writers need to lurk in the shrubbery and tackle passing readers, wrestle them to the ground and take them hostage.

Which one would you bite?
Having tried to write a lot of hooks and having read many hooks as a beta, I suspect that there are as many hooks as there are readers.

Not as many as there are writers. Not as many as there are stories.

What hooks me at the beginning of your story may not be what hooks Ali. Or the agent you sent your first chaper to. In fact, I can guarantee you will get different answers from different readers if you ask, "What kept you reading?"

You are not presenting your reader with one hook. You are presenting many hooks. Action, character, drama, world-building: all hooks. Questions. Riddles. Beguiling images. Promises of what's to come.

And most readers are willing to bite. I've been willing to bite every time I read a first page sample and watched cookie-stamp characters noodle around aimlessly on a blank canvas. Or I've seen one hook laid out front and center... but not a hook that I like.

Be aware of how many hooks you are offering your readers. Offer several. Show the reader that you know what you're doing, that there's going to be a payoff in action or drama down the road, paint a fabulous landscape that they want to see more of.

Those are all perfectly valid hooks. Happy fishing!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find I need many hooks at the beginning. Then only a few as time goes on in the book.

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