By that, I mean what hooks your attention when you start reading a book? What compels you to turn pages and read on, dive head first into a story? Action on page one? A teaser of some tension or incident to come? A compelling character? Something that is happening or about to happen? Or, maybe an opening line snags your interest. What pulls you into the story, whether you are reading it or writing it?
In my opinion, a good hook often plunges a protagonists into trouble and changes his world—right out of the starting gate. I love novels that give me a sense of something that is happening or about to happen. If this is ominous, the hook is around my neck and tugging. Also, if a character is in a disturbing situation and is about to take action, I am interested. This doesn’t have to be a tornado blowing through the protagonist’s life on page one. A small event such as a telephone call can grab me, depending on the call and the character’s reaction to it.
I recently finished Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. It begins with a plane crash where teen beauty queen contestants are the only survivors. I was hooked.
The opening line of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman immediately snagged me: “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.” And then the next paragraph: “The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet.” Gasp! Cancel all appointments—I must read on.
Here is the beginning of a more quiet novel, The Underneath by Kathi Appelt: “There is nothing lonelier than a cat who has been loved, at least for a while, and then abandoned on the side of the road.” Not long after this, the reader learns that this kitty is expecting kittens. Where are the tissues? I’m in. *Sniffs*
As writers and readers, we know that the hook at the beginning of a story is very important. So, what grabs you? Has an especially sharp hook snagged you recently?
* Also, a HUGE thank you to MG Higgins at http://mghiggins.blogspot.com for the “Appreciated Follower Award.” I am most grateful both for the award and her fabulous blog.