Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Writing the Hook

As a reader I LOVE the hook. Get me a book that has a hook in the first paragraph and I’m probably going to buy that book above the others. As a writer, sometimes I’m not so fond of the hook. It can take work and a lot of rewrites to get a good hook. A good hook will make a reader ask a number of questions: why, who, what, where and even how.

With Shrouded in Mystery, I wanted to add a bit of mystery:

He came to with a jolt. Wind rushed through the broken windshield and slashed vicious tentacles against his face, while shattered glass and snow lay scattered across the dashboard and his lap. Pain cut into his skull and the back of his neck. With a tentative hand, he touched his brow and came away with damp fingers.

The first paragraph of Shrouded in Mystery raises the questions why, where and when.  Why is he in an accident, where is he and what is on his fingers to make them damp? In the next sentence, I mention blood, but then I weave more raised questions throughout the first chapter and end it with I hope one of my better hooks.

Simply put, a hook grabs a reader and pulls them forward in the story. To get a reader to the next chapter, having a hook at the end of a chapter is a practice I try to follow. Having your heroine fall asleep at the end of a chapter is going to have your reader to do the same. Not good! You want your reader to keep on reading until the wee hours of the morning, preferably in one sitting. lol

On the first chapter of Shrouded in Mystery I added an end of chapter hook, which pulls the reader into the next chapter:

“Not the best place to break down.” The driver shifted his rear against the vinyl seat and steered the truck back onto the road. “Since we’re going to be up close and personal for a while—the name’s Stu. And you’re?”

“Clark. Clark Kent.”

In Shrouded in Illusion I wanted to instill a sense of danger.

“No one fuckin' move!  You!  Get away from the door."

Excuse the language, but I wanted to get in the readers face and feel exactly what the heroine, Skye, is feeling. Questions raised: Who is the person talking to? Why is the speaker so upset and why does the other person need to get away from the door?

Here are a couple sample endings I used for Shrouded in pull the reader into the next chapter.

Brandy bottle in hand, David closed the cabinet door and turned to find a dark silhouette of someone else in the kitchen with him.

A shout broke into the library air.

The boy slumped.  The squirming stopped.

The door leading into the hallway and her only escape route from inside, slammed shut.

A moment later she understood why Peter wanted her quiet.

The gun went off again.  This time the bullet didn’t hit air.  There was no mistake this time.  The bullet entered flesh.  His flesh.

Happy writing! :)

No comments: