Why would a story need a hook? Doesn’t the cover and title grab readers in good enough? Isn’t the job done after that?
Today we’re going to be looking at what a hook is, and how to create effective, and gripping hooks.
So, let’s get started!
What’s a Hook?
A hook is something that should be at the beginning of every story to lure readers into reading more…and more…and then suddenly they’ve finished the entire book.
Think of a hook like this: Let’s say a person picks up one book to read in their extremely busy life. That book is yours. The cover and title interests them, and from the back it sounds like a pretty good thriller! They open it up, and read…
Today is Monday. It’s a good day. Yup. Very good.
That was off the top of my head, okay?
If a reader is going to take time out of their very busy life, they’re going to need to be sold with what you’ve given them by the first sentence. If you can’t make it to the first, the second and possibly third sentences are open as well, although you should aim for the first.
An Example of a Gripping Hook
There’s a very popular series called The School for Good and Evil. Although it’s definitely not my kind of thing (lot’s of drama and love), I did notice that Soman did a really good job with his hooks! And he never lets his readers down-with each book, the hooks only get better and better!
The hooks from book 2 and up spoil a bit, so I decided to show you the hook from book one:
Sophie had waited all her life to be kidnapped.
See what I mean?
The interesting idea of someone wanting to be kidnapped, raises questions immediately. Why in the world would someone want to be kidnapped? And who would kidnap her? And where would they take her?
Those are only a few, but see what I mean? That singular sentence sold me, and I had to learn why, which immediately lured me into reading more.
So, now let’s figure out how we can ace a hook in our books as well!
5 Different Ways to Enhance Your Hook
1. Use Interest
The readers have to be able to open the book, and jump straight into a gripping sentence:
I remember those eyes-cold, blank, and lifeless…the eyes of my murderer.
2. Introduce Your Protagonist
This is actually a pretty essential one for the beginning of your story. On the very first page-paragraph-and hook itself if possible, your protagonist has to be there.
Now, when you introduce your protagonist, the first thing that should happen is to show him in a specific setting, facing a problem:
Joe stumbled and glanced backwards, terrified.
They were after him.
3. Start with Dialogue
This technique is slightly harder than the rest. Still, dialogue can make for a solid hook, because it shows readers that more than one character is present, which immediately offers the opportunity for conflict to happen! Of course, always be sure to give enough visible clues early on so that readers will be able to picture the scene.
“I knew I’d find you here…”
4. Implant Promises
Show that the character is already facing problems that’ll eventually increase into something bigger:
You feel kind of strange when you figure out you’re not human.
5. Set the Voice
Try to introduce a character who has a different way of looking at the world, a unique attitude, or an interesting voice (quirky, sarcastic, etc.):
My brother hasn’t blow up anything for two weeks…I really think something’s up.
It’s interesting to think about, but you might only come up with a good hook at the end of your book. By the time you finish your book, you’ll know where it should start, so don’t pressure yourself into creating a hook first thing-you can always come back later and switch those first few sentences into something stronger.
- Is my hook a good length? Does it make accurate promises for this story’s direction and take into thought about what readers will already know about the novel from its title, cover, back-cover, etc.)
- If I start the story by introducing a minor character, do I have a convincing reason for doing so? How would the reader react when they find out that character isn’t the protagonist?
- Will the opening make readers want to keep reading? Is it too clichéd or tense? How can I make it more gripping and memorable?
- Does my book lock in the mood, clarify the narrator’s POV, and introduce the voice soon enough?
- Is my opening sentence short and powerful, or have I tried to do too much, turning it into its own paragraph? How can I shorten it to a more effective length?
Have you guys ever tried out writing a hook before?
If not, are you interesting in trying it out now?
I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment down below.
Thanks for reading!