Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hooking your Reader

Everybody knows you need to hook the reader in at the first line.
Not everybody knows this, but you also have to hook the chapter end sentence, as well as the chapter beginning sentence throughout. Why? For that reader lying in bed only reading to help them sleep. Why them? Because who hasn’t read that book that kept them awake, then raved about it later. A book like that is the best reason to be kept up at night. (Okay, maybe not the best *wink wink*, but you feel me…)

Even fewer people may know you have to have hook situations throughout the novel. I guess this all goes back to scenes and sequel, setting up the goal and making sure your mc fails to obtain said goal. OR obtains with a nasty consequence. For all the newbies here today, all I’m saying is torture=good.
I learned an interesting trick recently for the situational hooks and thought I’d share. Give the reader something they won’t expect. I’m going to give you a version of the example I was given because the muse is still on vacation and I can’t think of anything elseSmile
Father is standing outside a car that’s running, in park, and his two year old is locked inside, unbuckled and running loose. The only set of keys are in the ignition. The car is ancient and has a faulty brake system. The kid is edging toward the drivers side.
What is the reader expecting to happen here? First guess, they’re expecting the baby to head right for the pedals or gear shift, right? It’s expected. But what if you place a briefcase in the driver’s seat and the baby knocks it over and it lands directly on the gas pedal. That right there is an oh shit moment. Unexpected and out of anyone’s control. You can further deepen the hook by use of the outside elements: where would the car go if the brakes give out?
Now, somehow the father gets his kid out. He remembers a set of keys or breaks a window, whatever. How are you going to make him react to the situation? This, too, is a hook. The expected reaction is that he’ll yank the child out and hug him/her for dear life. But what if he goes inside, grabs a gun and sends a bullet into the gas tank, blowing up the car instead? Oh shit.
Just something to think about… Smile 


  1. Great post. I totally agree. It's all about surprising your audience and pushing things to the limit.


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