The reader hook

Here I am, entering a whole new cyber world with no idea of what I’m doing. I downloaded a picture and don’t even know where to go and look on my own blog. Maybe cyber world will send me to the stupid corner.

One thing I do know is writing and painting, not houses, but scenes and things that bring peace and joy. My writing? Well that’s supposed to titillate, amuse and intrigue. I spend most of my time editing and tutoring new writers. Let’s teach.

Years ago, an editor told me that your story must capture the reader within the first line. here is the example I was given and I’ve applied it ever since.

The captain stood in the torpid heat, on the canting deck of this ship, slowly whipping his wife. 

This line does three things to arouse the reader curiosity and make them want to read more. Where is this captain, why is he whipping his wife, and more bizarrely, why slowly? These are questions the reader wants answers to and the only way they will get them is to read your book. It is commonly known as a hook. Sounds a bit predatory, I know, but you do need to hook your readers or why bother to write.

The next thing, treat each chapter with the thought that the reader may put the book down after the end of the last chapter to eat, sleep or whatever. You want them to carry on reading when they are done doing whatever they are doing. End chapters on a pull. It doesn’t have to be earth shattering, just enough to provoke interest. Here is an example.

Pain enveloped his heart. I wish I were dead. Clenching his teeth, he rode the grief.

The reader wants to know how he overcame his grief, if at all.

It isn’t always possible to start a chapter with a hook, but at the least, don’t bore your reader with long explanations or descriptions. Again, draw their interest with a concise use of words.

Blake snapped awake. A faint sound had infiltrated his sleep.

All this is important in the first few chapters. Once the reader has settled into the book, you will be forgiven for not starting and ending every chapter with excitement, but always keep in mind that as a writer you want to entertain. Long wordy sentences bore, they do not entertain.

Next time, I will talk about brevity of words.

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