Apr 9, 2012

A to Z - Hooks

I am not a good fisher.  I have a dad who is an amazing fisher, a brother-in-law who I swear is the fish whisperer and I can dangle, switch bait, and practice any other superstition and still the only way I can catch a fish is in a tank with a net.  

Thankfully, writers don't have to be good fishers to hook readers. But, we do have lots of hooks we have to figure out how to negotiate to have success - here are three I thought of.


First - hooking an agent.  Quick homework assignment - think about the book you are writing.  Sum up everything you want someone to know about what you are writing in two sentences.  And don't try to cheat by making them run ons.  I know, right?!?   It's hard.  But it is essential.  Run off and add this to your to do list to be accomplished in the next two weeks - I'm coming back to it, and if this is in your mind, the next part will be easier.  

Second - hooking a reader.  Take out your WIP and read the first sentence.  First 250 words.  First chapter.  Have you introduced characters that we care something about, presented a problem, conflict and set up even a little of the setting?  I know we re-write our first chapter the most, but it is so essential.  If we lose the reader in the first, we may not get them back.  

Third - hooking readers to our blogs.  I covered suggestions with "B" but increasingly, because of technology and social media, this really is an essential part of a writer's success and one more hook.  Along with this comes hooking through social media (hints coming), but for the next little bit, pay attention to blogs you like and revisit, determine why, and evaluate if yours is accomplishing the things that you admire elsewhere.  

What hooks are you working on right now?  How have you been hooked by others?  What do you think is the most essential element to a successful hook?


25 comments :

Talli Roland said...

I think I'm okay with the hooks. It's the saggy middles that have me tearing my hair out!

Kyra Lennon said...

Hooks are a challenge for me. I have been trying to work on one for my WIP, and I seem to have more words than I should lol! However, I think I may have inadvertently written one during the A-Z challenge. I may need to use that because everyone really liked it!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

My "Hook" at the moment is trying to sell my second book. I have sold quite a few on amazon.co.uk
and amazon.com
but after this challenge will have to spread the gospel about.

Great H post.
Yvonne.

Murees Dupé said...

I cannot fish at all. This is a very informative post and I most definitely learned a lot. Thank you so much.

Bish Denham said...

I love to fish, and done well at it. I think I'm pretty good at hooking readers too, but hooking an agent, a publisher? Haven't been able to do that yet. But I'm still throwing the line out there.

Donna Martin said...

Hi...I'm hopping over from the A to Z challenge. Lovely post...good luck with the challenge. I'm a new follower!

Donna L Martin
www.donasdays.blogspot.com

Kelley said...

I'm working on hooking an agent. Elusive little buggers... :)

Clare said...

Excellent advice. I really need to work on my hook, and the opening of my first chapter. Reading blog comments about hooks I see mine needs to be stronger.

Angela Cothran said...

I'm not going to lie...I break out in a cold sweat when I hear the word HOOK! Is it good enough? Did I do it right? Will it work? Auggh!!!

Danielle B. said...

I pray I'm doing it right whenever I sit down with my MS. Are my hooks the way they should be? Should I change something? It's frustrating to say the least.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm working on fixing the first chapter of my next book. I think it might start too slow.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

My favorite favorite part of starting a new book is writing the first sentence. I like thinking of a clever, interesting first sentence that makes the reader go, "What?" or make them smile, laugh, whatever. I love being pulled into a story with the very first line. It makes me even more eager to read the book. ;)

Emily R. King said...

The hook, to me, it the crux of the story. It is the thirty second pitch. Writers who can nail that, can nail the book!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm all right with hooks at the moment, at least until I go back and start editing my current manuscript.

deathwriter said...

I'm trying to hook an agent. I've got one tugging on the line, but he's not on the boat yet.
As far as hooks, I'm a nonfiction writer that's done a lot of immersion writing, so I usually hook the reader with being in a strange place followed by interesting dialogue. Then I tell the story.
Great post! I'm now a follower.

Matthew MacNish said...

I have a decent two sentence high-concept pitch for my first MS, but I have no idea WTH I'm going to say to summarize this new one.

Leigh Covington said...

You are so clever! You always come up with the best stuff. I love it! I love a good hook, but they have to follow up with a strong middle and ending otherwise I just end up disappointed.

Cassie Mae said...

I think I'm okay with the hooking thing, it's making sure they stay hooked is my problem :)

Lynn Proctor said...

so true, don't like fishing or rather the hook part, but gotta have it in a book or it gets thrown back

DL Hammons said...

I wrote a blog post last year calling myself a HOOKER. :) It's one of the things I do right with my writing. I know how to hook readers at the end of a chapter and force them to start another one! :)

Great topic!

Jaycee DeLorenzo said...

I just wrote a whole new beginning to my WIP - jury is out on whether my CP thinks it has a good hook or not. Great post.

My A-Z

Simon Kewin said...

Great post. I quite like intriguing opening hooks as a good way to draw the reader in. Throw them off balance a little with something odd or curious.

Rob and Lisa said...

I am currently trying to start an online store to sell accessories that I make, so I am working on ways to hook customers.
In my writing I am having an awful time writing the ending to my first novel.

Lisa

Peggy Eddleman said...

I guess the hooks I'm working on right now is cutting more in the first ten chapters, so I can get to all the hooks that go from there to the end better! Yeah.... sagging middles aren't my problem. It's the setup in a new world that is. Sigh.

Christine said...

It's the first one that gets me. I have a hard time being succinct talking about my WIP. Ok, in all honesty, I have a hard time with brevity in general!

I really like your blog. I'm glad I found it through the A-Z challenge.

Christine@
Coffee in the Garden
In the Care of the Great Physician