Tuesday, July 31, 2018

What Is Your Story's Hook?

Simply stated, your hook is what keeps the reader turning the pages. Your hook is just as important as your story's characters, plot, climax and resolution, if not more. Can the reader relate to the hook, is it marketable and will the reader feel it's worth their time?  

Once you’ve identified your hook, ask yourself, would an age appropriate reader for your story care about it. For example, would an 11-year-old boy care if his mother got her promotion or lost it to a younger new hire? Probably not, but he would care if he’s trying out for the town baseball team and the coach’s son, his classmate, doesn’t like him. Can this classmate influence his dad's decision on who makes the team? 

Your hook can be a statement or a question. From the examples below, you'll notice how the hook involves the main character having to make a major decision that drives the plot.

In THIS TINY PERFECT WORLD by Lauren Gibaldi, will Penn stay in her small town with her boyfriend and run the family diner or will she leave and pursue her dream of becoming an actress?

In GEMINI by Sonya Mukherjee, Clara, a conjoined twin wants surgical separation, but her twin, Hailey, does not. Can Clara convince Hailey to have the surgery?

IF I STAY by Gayle Forman, after a tragic car accident leaves Mia in a coma, she must choose to fight for a life without her parents and brother or give up and die.

RAIN REIGN by Ann M. Martin, Rose, a girl with autism, has to decide whether to look for her lost dog or stay home where it’s safe and familiar, but never see her dog again.

FAR FROM THE TREE by Robin Benway, Grace, who always knew she was adopted, one morning says to her adoptive parents that she wants to find her birth mother. Will Grace find her birth mother and get answers to her questions?

Think about some of your favorite stories. What question or unknown kept you reading? A good exercise to help you identify and write your hook is to read the back cover of novels. You can also include your hook in your query letter.

Before you spend months or years working on your novel, spend time thinking of a hook that is identifiable, unique, one that is strong enough to be turned into a book (a product that can be sold) and one that a reader will care about.

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