Sorry for the late post. It’s been another hectic week here, but I won’t bore you with why. Instead, let’s jump right into this week’s topic, about what I’ve learned over the past three years.

Have you ever wondered what an “opening hook” is?  When I first learned the term several years ago I was confused as hell! But after researching it and asking my crit partners about it, I found out it’s not nearly as daunting as I first thought. Hopefully this post will help clearly explain it to my fellow writers who don’t understand it.

A strong opening hook could possibly be the key that makes or breaks your manuscript. Most often it comes by the end of the first chapter. However according to several agents, you really only get the first paragraph to “wow” them, before getting placed into the rejection pile. Sometimes only the first sentence.

Why? It has been explained to me by several agents, that agents receive thousands of manuscripts per week and go through hundreds per day. They don’t have time to read through everything ever sent to them. If it’s not up to their standards, why should they bother?

To quote Stein on writing:

“The ideal goals of an opening paragraph are: 1. To excite the reader’s curiosity, preferably about a character or a relationship. 2. To introduce a setting. 3. To lend resonance to the story.” – end quote.

Your first sentence is absolutely vital.

So make sure by the time it’s finished you have a strong hook. Here is an example of one I have used during the process of writing my Nano novel.

Example One:

A large dark wolf loomed over the sea of mangled body parts, strewn across the blood soaked ground, head thrown back, howling at the moonlight, with blood dripping from its wide, thick, fangs.

Right away it’s got readers wanting to know more. Like why is it attacking? Who did it attack? Is anyone still alive? ect. I even took it a step further and built a bit of tension in that single sentence. It starts out very dark doesn’t it? It’s still not perfected, but it is a solid opening hook.

Here is another one, from various stages of Double Trouble manuscript.

Example Two:

The sound of a machine starting up, quickly followed by a scream on the other side of the door, caused the tray in her hands to tremble. Red hot, needle-like pains shot through her arm. She closed her eyes, focusing on keeping her breathing even.

Again it leaves readers wanting to know more, and that my friends is the key to creating a strong opening hook. It needs to leave your readers so eager to learn more that they have no choice but to keep turning the page to find out.

For a hook to be effective, it should do at least two of the following: 1. appeal to the readers’ emotions. 2. Raise questions about what will happen. 3. Reveal something that isn’t anticipated. 4. Indicate that something is about to change.

If it doesn’t do at least two of the things listed above, it’s not a solid opening hook. Do your best to stand out from the slush pile {rejection pile} by having a solid opening hook in the first paragraph of your manuscript and you’ll be ahead of the game.

So, what are some the opening hooks you’ve used for your manuscripts? Feel free to share your stories below. I love hearing about other writers’ stories as much as everyone else.

Reference Material: Stein On Writing, by Sol Stein.

P.S. This article appears in a writer/Editor collaboration full of tips and tricks for all kinds of writers here: http://thirdsundaybc.com/2012/03/18/vol-1-no-3/

About these ads

About kittyb78

Catrina Barton is a licensed Kung-Fu Instructor of the Black Dragon style, and draws on that experience to make her fight scenes both realistic and action packed. She enjoys being surrounded by the stark beauty of mother nature. Whether it's a moon-lit starry sky, or a picnic by a peaceful waterfall cascading from the mountain side. Growing up no matter where she was physically, she always had at least one book in her hands and spent every free moment lost in a book. It's only natural that as she grew up, her passion for reading grew into an even stronger passion for writing, especially Young Adult Paranormal Romances. She is a proud member of many writing and marketing groups, and an active participant at Critique Circle and several other crit groups. Favorite personal quote: "An author cannot grow without both constructive criticism and encouragement."

38 responses »

  1. I was reading through some of your content on this website and I conceive this internet site is very informative! Keep posting.

    • kittyb78 says:

      Hello. Thanks so much for leaving a comment. I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts and finding them informative. Feel free to join in on the discussions. Also if you have any specific topics you’d like me to discuss I’m open to hearing them.

  2. An amazing article, thanks for the writing.

  3. […] Barton presents Opening hooks posted at Kitty’s Inner Thoughts, saying, “This article on opening hooks, goes through […]

  4. […] One: It must grab the readers attention immediately. Something, be it an action scene, or a problem your character needs to resolve, or even a bit of dialogue about the problem your character is facing, has to quickly snag your reader’s attention before they put the book back on the shelf and reach for another one. {this goes back to my post about how vital the first sentence/paragraph is and why.} […]

  5. Hi there outstanding blog! Does running a blog like this require a lot of work? I have very little expertise in programming but I had been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, should you have any recommendations or techniques for new blog owners please share. I know this is off subject nevertheless I simply needed to ask. Thanks a lot!

    • kittyb78 says:

      Hello, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. It takes a lot of commitment and some work. The nest advice i can offer is to figure out which niche you want to interact with. Mine is for aspiring writers and other Authors, so I try to keep all posts relevant to those audiences. Good luck with your blog. let me know when it’s up and I’ll drop by. :)

  6. xanax online says:

    Super Simply Duper…

    some long is do reader Where with your Look i up come time this stuff awosome at amaized of a am This and thought im Wow this IDEA always you blog train of…

  7. I am not sure where you’re getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this information for my mission. anyway, check out my site for more information http://www.sumberinformasi.org

    • kittyb78 says:

      Hello, thanks for taking time to leave a comment.
      In answer to your question I mentioned where I got some of it in the references section at the bottom of the post.
      Feel free to drop by any time. :)

  8. Nice post…

    I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I’d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don’t mind…

  9. Great post, thank you so significantly for sharing. Do you happen to have an RSS feed I can subscribe to?

  10. Edinéia says:

    your post is so valuable for me, it will help in lots of ways.http://www.doceseducao.com

  11. I want to start a blog written by a fictitious character commenting on politics, current events, news etc..How?.

    • kittyb78 says:

      Hi Sharee. First thank you for leaving a comment.
      Now, to answer your question the first thing to do is sign up to create a blog. WordPress has a lot of wonderful things to offer. Or blogger is good as well. Both are free to join.
      Next, you create your first post, introducing yourself and explain what you will be offering to your audience.
      I hope this helps you to get started.
      Feel free to return any time. :)

  12. Rick Cumley says:

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was fantastic. I do not know who that you are but surely you are going to a famous blogger in case you are not already Cheers! xrumer

  13. Etelvira says:

    this is a good post. this post gives truly quality information. i’m definitely going to look into it. really very useful tips are provided here.http://www.multifuncionalhp.net

    • kittyb78 says:

      Hi Etelvira, I’m pleased you found my meager offerings useful. :)
      Thanks for taking time to let me know.
      I look forward to hearing from you in the future. :)

  14. Soon after study a handful of the websites on your personal internet site now, and that i truly like your technique for blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark internet site list and you will be checking back soon. Pls have a look at my web page too and told me what you think.

    • kittyb78 says:

      Hi Jani, thanks for dropping by.
      I’m glad you approve. Apply what you’ve learned to your own experiences. :)
      Feel free to return any time and thanks for your comment. :)

  15. Hi there Website Owner! Very nice blog you have here, I kinda like it! I noticed you were using WordPress and I figure I’d share a tip with you. There’s a plugin for WordPress I use on my own websites that will help you boost your traffic significantly ! You can easily get a spot on the page 1 for your specific keywords ! Here is the link … http://tiny.cc/4pxjhw ! If you need help with anything feel free to contact me ! Have a nice day !

  16. cialis says:

    Youre so cool!…

    Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for starting this up. this website is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little ori…

  17. Agen Bola says:

    I really appreciate this post. I¡¦ve been looking everywhere for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thanks again

  18. Information says:

    I really appreciate this post. I¡¦ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thank you again

  19. Clarisa says:

    really impressed! everything is very open and very clear explanation of issues. it contains truly information. your website is very useful. thanks for sharing. http://www.acertemail.com

  20. Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is magnificent, let alone the content!

    • kittyb78 says:

      Hello Jason, thank you for taking time to comment. I had another blog before this one at blogger. It was up for almost a year. I look forward to hearing from you again in the future and thanks for your kind words. :)

  21. ativan says:

    thanks a million…

    I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I usually do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!…

Feel free to leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s