Yesterday, we discussed the importance of the first sentence, but I believe the hook is even more important than that first line. A book becomes a page-turner when a writer has the ability to hook us and to keep us hooked.
Today, I’m going to talk about that hook. For this post, I’ve selected an article from the Writer’s Digest that I absolutely adore: 10 Ways to Hook your Reader (and Reel them in for Good).
I went through those ten ways, (which are more like steps, really) and tried to see how Suzanne Collins, consciously or not, used those steps in The Hunger Games (a book that hooked me from page one to the very last).
Ten Steps of the Hook
- Begin at a pivotal moment: The reaping for the Hunger Games.
- Add an unusual situation: Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place.
- Add an intriguing character: Peeta.
- Conflict: They’ll have to fight to the death.
- Add an antagonist: The Capitol.
- Change emotion: Katniss and Peeta falling for one another.
- Irony and surprise: Starcrossed lovers.
- Make people wonder: Is he just playing a game to win?
- Dread Factor: The actual FIGHT to the DEATH.
- Keep narrative voice compelling: Katniss’s thoughts are filled with moral dilemma and survival instincts and humanity at its most genuine.
Every step of the list adds a new layer to the story. From a pivotal moment to an intriguing character to conflict. Then the change of emotion is absolutely necessary, adding depth and surprising us.
The reader needs to wonder.
To be surprised.
To be afraid.
For the comment section below:
- What’s a book that kept you hooked, that you just couldn’t put down?
- Can you see how the plot of that book followed the 10 steps as it evolved?
For your personal wordcount:
- Write a first chapter, using all of the steps above. Start with the pivotal moment for just a few paragraphs, then add an unusual situation with the next paragraph or two. And on and on until the 10 steps are all checked.
That’s it for today!
Now go write!
Until tomorrow, may the odds be in your favor!