As an aspiring author, you must also be an avid reader, which means that you definitely have a favorite book. The hook of the book must have been amazing enough to grab your attention – perhaps – it was spooky, or it might have started with a spooky scene.
Maybe, the book started with a moral dilemma. Whatever it was – the opening line of your book sucked you right in. Whatever happened in the opening pages of your book, it had all your attention, which is why the opening lines or pages of a book are known as the “hook.”
The hook is designed in a way to “hook” the readers and to make them want to read further until the end of the book. A hook is integrated into all types of storytelling – including fiction, short stories, non-fiction, academic essay, and poem.
Hooks are also used in advertising and memoirs. As an aspiring writer who is working on your own book, you will want to know more about what a hook is, its importance, and how to write an effective hook.
Before we go into the details, you might want to sign up for online creative writing classes as it can help you improve your writing style and write better hooks to reel the readers in and have them hooked to your book – from the beginning to the end.
What is A Hook – An Overview
Let us start with defining a hook and what it exactly is. The hook is exactly what it looks like – it refers to a literary technique that writers integrate into their writings to catch the attention of their target audience.
It doesn’t matter whether you are writing a poem, fiction, short story, novel, or any other genre – hooks are mandatory for all types of writing, and they are exclusively designed to attract the reader’s interest so that they really want to read on.
There are different ways that a writer can nail the hook. Here are some of the techniques:
Startle Your Audience
The kind of hook that you will want to use for your book has a lot to do with the genre that you choose for your book. Nonetheless, you might want to start the book by startling your readers and taking your target audience by surprise.
By integrating this aspect in your hook, your readers can be excited to read the entire book and delve into the story. You can startle your readers by using a character’s confession about a crime that they committed.
It could, however, also be a fun or surprising observation. We recommend having fun and keeping your options open to see what kind of reaction you can derive from your potential readers. If you are unsure about the type of emotion your first line is inducing in the readers, you can always get valuable feedback from beta readers.
Integrate an Action
One of the most common ways to start a hook is by starting with an action and getting the readers engaged in the story from the very start of the book. There are different types of actions that you can integrate into the hook of your story, including explosions and chaotic scenes.
The best way to integrate action into the hook and get the instant attention of your readers is by dragging them with you in the middle of a stressful scene as something like this is impossible for them not to follow as their curiosity will peak and they will want to know more about everything.
Again, there are different ways to integrate an action-centered hook, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be an explosion. Your protagonist might be escaping from someone, or they might be running after someone for revenge.
You might as well start the hook with a fiery argument or the depiction of a crime. Another great way to pique your reader’s interest is using a flashback in your hook, especially if your story comprises a non-linear structure.
You get the point – when it comes to integrating action in your hook, you have unlimited actions to choose from.
Emotionally Connect with Your Readers
Suppose you don’t want to startle your readers or make them participate in an action scene. You will want to go the emotional route instead. For instance, you could start the opening lines by depicting an intensely emotional scene of a character. This way, you can induce sympathy or empathy in your readers, which will then make them feel interested in reading on to know what happens to the character in the remaining story.
The depiction of the right emotional response can make the readers immediately sympathize with the protagonist. The readers will instantly feel concerned for the protagonist’s wellbeing, and they will want to know more about the situation they have been presented with.
You can use various emotions to pique your readers’ interest and sympathy, such as fear, anticipation, excitement, sympathy, embarrassment, and fear. The right emotions will help you make the readers feel instantly connected to the characters, and they will feel immediately more interested in the story.
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Narrate a Life-Changing Moment
Another great writing technique for the hook is that you will want to narrate a life-changing moment at the start of your book. The life-changing moment should ideally push the protagonist into a conflicting and tense situation, which should be an inciting incident.
Naturally, the readers will be experiencing a life-changing moment with the characters, so they will have no choice but to continue reading to know what comes next or how they will get out of the situation.
A great example of such a life-changing moment would be Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, where the protagonist finds himself transformed into a bug one morning. A hook like this is irresistible for the reader as they are flabbergasted about how one could wake up as a gigantic bog.
They will have the urge to keep reading to know what exactly is going on with the protagonist in the story.