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No, let me clarify that. Writers NEED to grab the reader’s
Most writers call this the hook. You try to hook your reader
so he or she will want to read more. But I’m a southern girl from the waters of
Florida. My father-in-law owned a bait and tackle shop. I worked side by side
with my husband there from time to time. (Okay, I didn’t really work. I was
there to see him. This was when we were dating.) Anyway, I know enough about
fishing to know you can’t rely on a mere hook. If you want to reel in your
reader, you need to start with some tasty bait.
This post offers five possibilities:
1. Ask a question.
Try opening your novel with a question. You need not answer it right away. Use
it to make your reader curious.
Would Sarah’s nightmare ever end?
The question should make you wonder a bit about Sarah and
what nightmare is tormenting her. Or try this one:
How could John expect the Agent
Daniels to protect his family when he couldn’t protect his own in this
What does this opener tell you already about the story? The
characters? The setting? What does it make you wonder about?
2.Create a picture for your reader. Use
descriptive words to draw your reader into the story.
Ribbons of heat rose from the pavement.
Ari looked up and down the
highway, praying silently for a car
to come by. He wiped his brow and pressed on.
3. Use action. Drop
your reader right into the action. This is the tool I used in Breathing on Her Own
Molly Tipton followed her husband through
the wide glass doors of the emergency room to the nurse’s station. A male
nurse, on the telephone at a desk at the back of the cubicle, didn’t look up.
Molly’s heart pounded. She brought her hand down hard on the bell in front of
“We were told our daughter Laney was in
an accident and brought here.” Travis’s voice sounded steady, but Molly saw his
lower lip twitch. “Laney Tipton.”
4. Try starting with
a single word or phrase. I used this technique for my second novel.
What image or emotion does that single phrase conjure up for
you? Women find it a powerful starter.Here’s another possibility:
5. State a fact or
statistic that leaves the reader guessing.
somewhere that fifty-percent of the time a remote is missing, it’s between the couch
cushions. So what was Harvey’s doing in the flowerbed? And more importantly,
where was Harvey?
There are, of course, many techniques to attract your reader
and draw him or her into the story. What other tools have you found useful? Share your ideas in the comment section.