How To Be A Successful Hooker

Rita Henuber~ By Rita Henuber

Hooker?

Did you come to the blog thinking I was going to talk about a very old profession? If you did well…. 

HA! Made you look. You fell for my HOOK.

I’m talking about hooks in your writing. Hooking a reader into your story. Grabbing them so hard and fast they can‘t put your book down.

So what is a hook? Mary Buckham, in her lecture packet on Hooks and Pacing, says it best. “Hooks create an emotional response from a reader. Not just any emotional response but one that gets under your subconscious, raises a question and compels a reader to turn one more page in order to find an answer.

Hooks can, and should be used, in the opening sentence of a book, the opening paragraph, the end of the first page, the end of the third page, the end of the third chapter, opening a chapter as well as an ending one, at each new scene and, if you’re writing a series, the last sentence.”

In her book, How I Write, Janet Evanovich says:  “The beginning is the most important part of the book. It must capture the reader immediately and force them to keep reading.”

Agent Donald Maas says hooks are vital to open your book, open each chapter, open each scene, and end the book. The best books contain one or more of twelve different hooks.

* Action or danger

* Overpowering emotion

* A surprising situation

* An evocative description that pulls a reader into a setting [think a specific setting here that impacts the storyline vs simply description per se – simple description of a generic or vague nature is not evocative nor qualifies as a setting]

* Introducing a unique character [Introduction of a character is not enough – they must be unique.

* Warning or foreshadowing

* Shocking or witty dialogue [internal or external]

* The totally unexpected

* Raising a direct question

crochet hooksStill not convinced hooks are important? When I started writing I wasn’t either. I didn’t see the need for an opening hook. This is what a smart author told me. Take five of your favorite books from the shelf and read the first paragraph. Is there a hook?  I had twenty-one books on the table before I became a believer. Shrug. I blame it on living in Missouri (the Show Me state) several years. All save one had a hook. All but a handful had the story GMC in the first pages.

My very favorite opening is Michael Connelly’s The Brass Verdict. It completely lays out the story.

“Everybody lies.

Cops lie. Lawyers lie. Witnesses lie. The victim lies.

The trial is a contest of lies. And everyone in the courtroom knows this. The judge knows this. Even the jury knows this. They come into the building knowing .They take their seats in the box and agreed to be lied to.”

There is an Eloisa James book, (Historical) the name of the book escapes me now, that begins “I didn’t mean to marry them both.” Brilliant. The reader knows what this book is about immediately.

Let’s get back to your opening. Does it immediately draw the reader in?  Don’t know? Think about it like this. Say your book is about an asteroid on a collision course with earth and the heroine who saves the day. Should the first page begin with the heroine sitting on the sofa, channel surfing, eating ice-cream, thinking about calling the hunky new neighbor that just moved in next door? But, first she has to make her grocery list, call her sister and make sure the new puppy doesn’t pee on the carpet?

OR…The heroine learns there is a giant asteroid headed her way. She snatches up puppy, runs next door, grabs the hunk out of shower and drags him from the house seconds before the asteroid hits demolishing both homes. 

Which are you going to want to read more of? Do you care about what her grocery list includes? What flavor of ice cream she prefers? Do you want to read farther to learn if the puppy pees on the carpet?  Not me! I’d kinda like to know if hunky neighbor had time to grab a towel, what he’s going to do for clothes and how he is going to thank the heroine for saving his life. Hmm. HOOK!

Your opening doesn’t have to be explosions, fires, or murders. It does need to make the reader want to read on and on and on. You only have a few pages to ‘hook’ an agent, editor, and most important your readers.  

Make the best of your first pages.  

In the first paragraph drag the reader in with a grappling hook, use a spinner to end the first page. End the first chapter with a treble hook. Go all out for the end of you submission and use a big game hook.  

I’ll randomly pick one person who shares their opening hook in the comments to receive my book, Let Me Tell You A Story. *

Rita grew up on Florida’s east coast. She married a Marine and feels fortunate to have lived many places and traveled to the states and countries she didn’t live. She writes about extraordinary women and the men they love weaving her experiences into contemporary fiction and suspense thrillers.

Website || Facebook || Twitter

About the author: contempadmin

2 comments to “How To Be A Successful Hooker”

You can leave a reply or Trackback this post.
  1. Barbara White Daille - October 18, 2018 Reply

    Love this post, Rita. A great reminder about the importance of hooking the reader and KEEPING them hooked. Thanks! Here’s the opening of my sweet romance, One Week to Win Her Boss:

    The jingling of Santa’s sleigh bells jolted Amber Barnett awake on the couch. Following the bells came a thud, a crash, a clatter, and a long string of muttered curses. That couldn’t be. Santa wouldn’t swear like a sailor, especially not on Christmas Eve.

  2. Rita Henuber - October 20, 2018 Reply

    Lovely opening Barbara. Glad you like the post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Email address is required.