Engage the reader
Purposely engage readers from the first words, first image, first emotion, and first bit of dialogue.
How to hook my readers?
Workshops, how-to-books, and instructors will say it’s the first two paragraphs, the first one hundred words, the blurb, the cover. . .etc. that will hook your readers.
As a rule, I agree these statements are true.
The key statement is “as a rule”.
I write what I like to read. I like a strong opening hook, witty dialogue, or a detailed description of a setting, all have their place and all appeal to me. If I have had a stressful day, I may prefer a book with more narrative. A humdrum day, a fast-paced book with a strong action hook is perfect. I assume my readers preferences are the same.
The story dictates the hook and the tone of my story. Always.
Remember that story is primarily about characters and events. An opening without them isn’t much of an opening
When I select print books, I look at the cover, read the blurb, and scan the first three pages. Ebooks, offer the additional benefit of reviews (though I am careful not to find spoilers) and speedy download. As a writer, I am very aware that I’m not the only entertainment venue. I compete with movies, television, and in the case of my Teen/Tween and YA novels—video games,
I strive to forge an emotional connection between my readers and my characters. I hope that my readers will remember my characters and think of them as friends. Friends that make an afternoon enjoyable, an evening filled with adventure, hope, love, or good old-fashioned or just plain sassy fun!
Looking for a hook?
Here are a few of mine:
• Charlene hadn’t told Rachel that she’d fixed her up with a cowboy, much less Lynx Maddox, the “Wild Cat” of the rodeo circuit. Rachel signed. She should have known. After all, Charlene only dated men who wore boots and Stetson. “Lynx” Rodeo Romance, Book 1. BWL release.
• Audralynn Maddox heard her own soft cry, but the pain exploding inside her head made everything else surreal, distanced somehow by the realization that some had made a mistake. A terrible mistake. “Brede” Rodeo Romance, Book 2. BWL release.
• “You and Elvis have done a great job on this house,” Meredith said as her older sister led the way downstairs toward the kitchen here the tour began. “Sorry I couldn’t get over, until now, but I’ve been sort of. . .well, busy.” Slipping her Juicy Couture tortoise-shell framed sunglasses into a bright pink case, Meredith crammed them into her black Coach handbag. She hoped her sister didn’t ask her to define busy. Becoming a zombie, and dealing with the entire raised from the dead issue over the past six months, was not a topic easily plunked into casual conversation. “
Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow” BWL release.
Your first chapter, your opening scene, your very first words are an invitation to readers.
I ask myself, “Have you made your invitation inviting? That is, is it tempting or attractive or irresistible? Once a reader has glanced at your opening, will he or she find the story impossible to put down?”
That’s one aim of a story opening, to issue a hard-to-resist invitation to your fictional world. You don’t want to create barriers for readers. Instead, you want to make the entry into your story one of ease and inevitability. You want to make the story attractive and compelling.
I hope that I am successful.