Creating a good hook is not easy, but it is so essential that it is worth almost any amount of time and energy. The hook is third after front cover and back-cover blurb in the sequence of what makes readers want to buy your book. When a reader looks at your first paragraph, it is a pivotal opportunity to generate a sale.
While not every first line can be totally engaging, the first paragraph has to have something in it that elevates interest. And the first page needs to make one want to turn to the second. While there is no perfect formula, there are certainly some patterns that have emerged as to what constitutes an effective beginning of a book. iUniverse is happy to suggest the following:
Start off simple and strong. A long opening sentence feels unwelcome to most modern readers. Keep in mind that most of these individuals are browsing in a bookstore or online and want something that feels direct and unique.
Introduce a character. Too many lines on a setting or time period will not engage the reader as strongly as a flesh-and-blood person. Novels live through characters, not through settings.
Establish conflict as early as you can. Conflict gives an adrenaline rush to a reader’s curiosity. Any sudden incident or unusual situation can help hook a reader.
Live on the edge. Further to the above, novels are about taking conflict and encapsulating it into short situations. Each chapter provides an opportunity for cliffhangers and “edgy” scenes, making your readers eager for more.
Examples are helpful here, and iUniverse has selected a few from the world of literature for your edification:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. A highly recognizable line from English literature, it gives us an indication of what the novel with be about: marriage among the upper classes.
“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This line enables the reader to see that the novel will recount something meaningful in the speaker’s past.
“He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.” – Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini. It is difficult to resist a line like this, as it paints such an interesting and stimulating portrait of a character – with an economy of words. The reader also has an indication that the book will be humorous and adventurous.
“The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.” – Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. Here, the reader is intrigued by the scene as well as the hour. The use of the word “nauseating” lets us know that the story will have a hard edge to it. And as a James Bond story, it certainly does.
iUniverse trusts this helps
iUniverse understands that creating a good hook is one of the most difficult jobs of for a novelist. As mentioned, take as much time on it as needed – the hook will help to add momentum to your writing.