About a year ago I opened up the first page of the novel I just started reading and it said:

It was one hell of a night to throw away a baby (Julia Spencer-Fleming)

And whoa nellie, I was hooked! And you want to know the interesting part? I had JUST read a how-to book that said never, never, ever, start a book with "IT". As a reader, I couldn't have disagreed more - I was completely wrapped up in this baby. Why was the baby thrown away, who's baby was it, where was it found? WHAT'S GOING ON PEOPLE???

The hook is the thing that keeps the reader invested from beginning to end. Imagine your reader picking up your novel and not putting it down because they are so entranced in what they are reading, they can't put it down, they simply must keep reading. And we, as writers, need to ensure they keep reading because we care about the reader.

A hook should:

1. String the reader along.

2. Allow the reader to get involved in the protagonist and the problem(s) he/she is facing and then keep them invested. It's good for the protagonist to be in trouble and/or to have a life-changing event.

3. Keep the reader reading and create excitement. One way to do this is by creating scenes that are filled with emotion.

4. Start with a problem that needs to be solved, a conflict or something that is happening - create and maintain conflict.

5. Get right into the story - the action. You leave behind all the "once upon a time" stuff and skip forward to what is happening now. Then, once that is established, you can add bits and pieces of backstory.

6. Grab the reader from the first sentence.

A hook should not:

1. Fizzle out by taking too much time on things like the backstory or unnecessary information that takes away from the story.

2. Be created just as a way to razzle dazzle the reader by being corny.

And for more, here are some useful articles:

Hook Your Reader From the First Sentence

Hook Your Reader Right from the Start

Create a First Paragraph that will Hook Your Reader

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