Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Book Hooks Day 2

What is a hook?

It is not the thing dangling at the end of a fishing line, but pretty darn close. A hook is a concise, tagline for your book. It hooks your reader’s interest, and reels them in.

It refers to the first line, paragraph, or page of a story, or sometimes all three. It is the first impression a reader has of the story and the first impression an editor or agent has of a submission. For both, it may mean the difference between buying this story and buying something else.

Why do you need them?

The hook is the part of the story that draws the reader in. It says, "This is the one you want to read." Since the first person to read your completed story will be an editor or agent who has millions of books, proposals, and contracts to read, if he/she doesn’t like the very beginning they will not be reading any further. Neither would any other reader who has a few minutes to grab a book and go.

Where can you see a hook?

The best way to understand how to write a hook is to read a few examples.

Your exercise, should you choose to accept it, is to post 5 examples of hooks from books that you have READ, not written. Why am I suggesting that? Because. . . what made you buy the book? Show us what made you buy 5 books. It can be the first sentence, the first paragraph, or the beginning of the jacket blurb. You choose.


1. Roger Seagraves walked out of the U.S. Capitol after an interesting meeting that, surprisingly, had had little to do with politics. That evening he sat alone in the living room of his modest suburban home after arriving at an important decision. He had to kill someone, and that someone was a very significant target. Instead of a daunting proposition, Seagraves saw it as a worthy challenge. ~first paragraph from The Collectors by David Baldacci

2. She was dead the minute she answered the ’link. ~ first sentence from Promises in Death by JD Robb

3. When Lizzie Rush uncovers evidence that thrill-seeking billionaire Norman Estabrook may be at the center of an international criminal network, she finds herself playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse. ~first sentence of jacket blurb from The Mist by Carla Neggers

4. Ellen Gleeson was unlocking her front door when something in the mail caught her attention. It was a white card with photos of missing children, and one of the little boys looked oddly like her son. ~first two sentences from Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

5. THERE ARE SOME men who enter a woman’s life and screwit up forever. ~first sentence from One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Don't forget to share your examples! See you tomorrow.


Carmen Shirkey April 28, 2009 at 9:38 PM  

The summer sun was busy broiling the asphalt from Chicago's streets, the agony in my head kept me horizontal for half a day, and some idiot was pounding on my apartment door - Jim Butcher, TURNCOAT

Things never turn out the way you think they will. -Michael Crichton, Prey

Admittedly, I picked these books up because I like the authors already, but one sentence, and you're hooked!

Ceri Hebert April 29, 2009 at 7:15 PM  

Dominick Corvaisis went to sleep under a light wool blanket and a crisp white sheet, sprawled alone in his bed, but he woke elsewhere-in the darkness at the back of the large foyer closet, behind concealing coats and jackets
~~first sentence from Strangers by Dean Koontz.

Birthing a bastard wasn't in the plans.
~~ first sentence of Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts.

Denise April 29, 2009 at 7:24 PM  

I especially like the Blue Dahlia opener.

And Michael Crichton's is just a classic line everyone cann relate to.


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