Saturday, April 18, 2015

All About The Hook ~ @oddlynn3 #rndrobin0418 #LynnCrain #AWriterInVienna

Hi everyone!

And welcome to A Writer In Vienna. If you’ve never been here before, pull up a chair and look around. I’ve lived in Vienna, Austria four years and am trying to share that experience with others. Drop by my other blog for Monday’s Scoop where I talk even more about the experience. While there, don’t forget to comment and be entered into my monthly contest for a $25 GC of your choice.

Today’s topic is all about what glues you to a story, start to finish. This also includes how we as authors hook our readers. These are age old topics for writers and aren’t to be taken lightly. If you can’t interest a reader immediately in today’s publishing world, you don’t have a chance. If you don’t live up to your hook, you don’t have a chance of being picked up again by that reader.

So…what’s an author to do? Write a great first line, of course!

To me, some of the things a first line, commonly called your hook line, should do, but not necessarily all of them, are:

T  State something unusual.
T  Show someone under stress. For example, if your main character is a time traveler, how they handle what they see and experience will decide the course of the story.
T  The first must be appropriate to the story. You don’t show a nun, who is having a crisis of faith, in the middle of a barrage of gunfire.
T  It should describe the moment when the rest of the novel becomes inevitable.
T  The first line should sum up the whole story.
T  They must make the reader want to read line two.

Overall, a first line or hook, should be clever, thought-provoking, draw the reader into an unfamiliar world, bring a smile to the readers face, be poignant, setup a mystery, use words in such a wonderful way that the reader wants more, introduce a characters and so much more. Those are just a few of the things I feel a first line should do.

Just think of some of the best first lines you’ve read. Here a few of mine:

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, Jane Austen, 1813)

Harry Potter was a very unusual boy in many ways. (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling, 1999)

He was running for his life. (Hot Ice, Nora Roberts, 1987)

And here’s a few from my own stories:

Damn, I’m going to lose another one, MacKenzie thought as she beat the steering wheel with her fist. (Midnight Run, Lynn Crain, 2010 unpublished)

He had always been in this cage in one way or another. (Night of the Blue Moon, Lynn Crain, 2007)

What the hell was I doing on this off-planet hell hole? (Private Dancer, Lynn Crain, 2007)

The first line sets the tone for of the rest of the novel, everything else of the story will follow from it. If the first line isn’t something an author can feel in their gut, it’s probably wrong.

Now once you’ve written that great first line, you need to keep the pace going so that every page is integral to the overall story arc of the characters. Again, think of all the books you couldn’t put down. The books I listed above were finished in a day or no more than a few days because every page was a turner.

As a writer, it’s hard to make every page something great. The idea is to first get the story down as if it never gets out of one’s head and on the page, it doesn’t matter. Once there, an author can tweak it, read it again, send it to betas, tweak it some more, have an editor look at it and finally get it published because it shines like a new copper penny.

Some writers think there is a secret to making great page turners. There isn’t. A writer’s greatest tool is the ability to change and adapt, to make their product better as their career moves on. What and how I write today isn’t the same as how I wrote in my late twenties. I’m better and I know it.

And as a writer, I will learn and grow until I can’t any more. Even today, I take classes. Currently, I’m in two marketing classes, a flash-fiction class and a class on how to create a language. I feel it will all make me a better writer.

Overall, I try to write stories I like to read. I love things to be thrilling and constantly changing. Some of my works-in-progress reflect that as I’m working on a series of short stories about a paranormal matchmaking service, a series of shorts about a group of women who were genetically engineered to be soldiers, and a series about a young girl thrust into the world of paranormal investigation. Each and every story is unique. Hopefully, they have a great hook, an incredible middle and a kick-ass ending.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little look into writing great hooks and page turners. Thank you for being supportive of us during our round robins. We love when you visit us and tell us what you think.

Don’t forget to go to each of the authors in the list below. Again, thanks for joining us…see you next time.


T Rachael Kosnski
T Victoria Chatham


  1. Really enjoyed the post, Lynn!

  2. Love that Hot Ice line. Yes!! :D
    And conflict. Hook the reader with conflict. The first line can be great, but if it isn't fabulous, a book can still hook me. You could do a series. This is a great article.

  3. Ha! So true about a great opening line. Love those.
    One of my fav lines is by Kristan Higgins' Fools Rush In:

    I'm a stalker. The good kind.

    Cracks me up all the time!

  4. I agree about taking classes although admit to having a weakness for craft books. I know how much I have progressed by the craft books I've let go! Vienna. Oh my. A city on my bucket list as I would love to visit the Spanish Riding School.

  5. I'm a sucker for a great first line!

  6. So many great ideas for getting the "hook" right. When I buy a book, whether it's on line or in the book store, I tend to browse beyond the carefully constructed back cover copy and read the first page. You get a really good idea is this book is going to suck you in and keep you turning pages right there in the first couple paragraphs.

  7. Love your opening hooks. I need something to draw me in, and those would definitely do the trick. Good post.

  8. The first line sets the tone for of the rest of the novel, everything else of the story will follow from it. If the first line isn’t something an author can feel in their gut, it’s probably wrong.

    Lynn, excellent summary of how instinctive we are as writers.

  9. I'm with you, Lynn, I try to write stories I like to read. Every artist, whether a musician, painter, writer, etc, should grow. Look at Picasso, he had different periods. Mozart's music changed dramatically from his first composition at 4-5 years old to his final piece. It's inevitable that our voices change with our experiences. It's what makes us interesting.

    BTW, I love that first line of Private Dancer. :D


  10. Really good information here. The hook is important, but have you ever read a book that the first couple or three chapters were sparkling in their writing, but the rest of it was just mediocre? I figure the first 3 chapters were submitted for a contest so they were really fine-tuned. I like your point about " great hook, an incredible middle and a kick-ass ending."

  11. I think we all write the books we want to read. I've always enjoyed the entertainment my brain produces for me. Sharing those stories with other people is really fun! And having someone write that they felt your character's pain, or laughed and cried with your characters is mind-blowing! Those people used to "live" only in my head, and now they live in other minds as well? What a concept, this reading thing is.

  12. Great post. Lots of good points and I love your opening lines.