FICTION WRITING TIPS #2
What makes a gripping hook?
What is it that grabs the reader’s attention to our books, enticing them to pick it up or borrow it from Kindle library? Is it just an intense and perfectly-written chapter 1 or Prologue?
I think it takes much more to create a gripping hook. If the reader is not hooked into picking our book first, the question of a perfect chapter 1 doesn’t come to being.
Let’s look at this from a reader’s perspective. He walks through the aisle of a book-store or browses through amazon. What is it that grabs his attention first?
- AN CAPTIVATING BOOK COVER
An alluring and professional cover goes a long way to grab the reader’s attention.
It is our first sales pitch.
A well-designed cover assures the reader that the author is meticulous enough to ensure that all aspects of the novel are as perfect as possible. It also gives him hints about the tone of the book (humor, dark/ horror, romantic, fantasy, sci-fi etc.) And if the cover is intriguing, he picks it up.
Now what is it that is going to entice him to look deeper?
- A CATCHY TITLE
The title of the novel gives him information of what the novel could be about. For example: Let’s say the story is about a boy who enrolls at a magic school. He fights against the teachers who turn students to the dark side of magic. Below are two possible titles:
* School of Dark Magic
* The Courageous boy
Which one grabs your attention and why?
When combined with an alluring cover, the title will give the reader a better idea about what the book is about, make him turn the book and read…
- A GRIPPING BOOK DESCRIPTION
If the cover and title hooks the reader, an amazing book description reels them in. It reveals hints about the story world, the characters, internal conflicts/ obstacles, the stakes and the consequences of failure.
A well-written book description makes the reader feel the need to read more, find out what happens in the story. So he turns the page or clicks on…
- THE BOOK EXCERPT (CHAPTER 1 or PROLOGUE)
Now comes the part where the readers goes through the first chapter and prologue. The chapter 1 or prologue is a powerful teaser that should be able to help the readers connect to the characters or the story line enough to continue reading. But is this all that is required to hook the reader? Again, no. We need…
- SUCCEEDING CHAPTERS THAT DEEPENS THE HOOK
Many readers (like me) read at least four or five chapters before deciding whether they want to continue reading the story. There have been books which have a spectacular Chapter 1, but the succeeding chapters don’t keep the promise/ expectations raised by the chapter. And the book ends up in the DNF list. Why? Because I was not invested enough in the story-world, characters or plot. Or there were so many logical holes at the beginning that I got frustrated and kept it aside. So the book grabbed my attention, but failed to hook me in the succeeding chapters.
So to conclude…
Technically, the hook could be defined as a strong beginning.
But, according to me, a gripping hook has stages. It starts with the element (mostly the cover/ title) that catches the attention of the reader and makes him read the enticing chapter 1. But it doesn’t stop there. Like the hook has to be attached to a rope/ thread, the strong beginning should be connected to well-written, intriguing chapters that keeps them turning the page, eager to read each scene till they reach the end.
And if they’re invested enough in our story, they’ll hopefully leave a review and buy the next book in the series 🙂
Look out for a detailed post on each of the above elements every week.
Next post on Fiction Writing Tips: ELEMENTS OF A CAPTIVATING BOOKCOVER
*Pictures in CCO domain taken from Pixabay (Foundry)