How to Hook a Reader

by , Thursday September 29, 2016
How to Hook a Reader


If I pick up your book and the first paragraph doesn't grab me by the ears and pull my into the pages, then why would I read the rest of it? 

The hook is sometimes the hardest part of a story. What can you say that will convince people to read your book? Here are some ways you can write a spellbinding hook and keep your reader turning pages all night. 

Step One:

Keep your reader asking questions without confusing them. Example:

"'Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents,' grumbled Jo, lying on the rug." 

In this first sentence of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, we already have a question in our head that keeps us reading. Why don't they get presents this year? Are they poor? If so, why? It sounds like they've had presents before. You see? Alright moving on. 


Step 2:

Let your reader see the world. 

Reading if fun because you can travel, fight battles, make friends, and grow old or young; all while sitting on your bed. Our imaginations are powerful. Use them. Take the reader somewhere special, someplace beautiful where they can escape reality if only for a few minutes. Example: 

"Mrs. Rachel Lynda lived just where Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade;"

The hook for Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, take us to a beautiful far away place but still leaves us asking questions. What secrets are in the woods? Who is Mrs. Rachel Lynda? Why is Avonlea important?


Step 3:

We like to know what we're getting ourselves into.

If your book is historical fiction, then you wouldn't start with magic. The reader would be confused and their minds would shift into a fantasy/adventure mind set. This leads to the reader being disappointed, confused, and sometimes frustrated. Make sure they know what kind of genre this is right away. Example:

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort." 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien lets us know right away that this is fantasy. A world of hobbits, creatures that apparently like food, clean holes, and comfort.


Step 4:

Speak to the audience.

Know who your audience is, whether that be teens, middle school kids, old women, or 40-year-old men. Whatever it is, make sure you keep that audience in mind and write in a way that will interest, and help them understand your story. Example: 

"There is one mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair." 

Divergent by Veronica Roth. This is a story for teenagers and young adults. Anyone can read it if they want. But when you pick up the story and read it as a teenager, it can speak to you, because it was written, for you.


Step 5:

Before the begining. 

The hook of the first paragraph is important, but it's not the only hook in the story. Your Title is also your hook. If your first paragraph is worth $1,000,000 but your Title is cliche and boring, no one is going to pick up the story. The title has to spark interest. (The cover is important as well) And not only is your title a hook, but chapter names can be a hook too. Most books are changing to just, "Chapter 1, Chapter 2..." But if you choose to name your chapters, it can be a good hook for your story and keep the readers turning pages. Example:

"One: I Accidentally Vaporize my Pre-Algebra Teacher, Two: Three Old Ladies Knit the Socks of Death, Three: Grover Unexpectedly Loses His Pants, Four: My Mother Teaches me Bullfighting, Five: I Play Pinochle with a Horse, Six: I become Supreame Lord of the Bathroom." 

Percy Jackson ladies and gentleman, give him a hand. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan is funny and hooks you with every clever chapter name.


There you have it. Five ways to make magical hooks even if your genre isn't fantasy. May this help you with the story of your choosing. Catch ya latter. ;)  

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