Daily Writers Challenge: How to Hook Your Readers

Some call it the hook, some call it the lead.  Whatever you call it, it had best reach up out of the pages and grab your reader by the collar.

At the Fremont Area Writers Club meeting some months ago, we had Verna Dreisbach, a literary agent, speak to us about what it takes to get noticed by an agent.  She essentially said, “…when I pick up a query letter, I look for the first thing that will make me put it down…”  She went on to explain that she is inundated with queries, and anything she finds wrong with one is her excuse to move on to the next.

Clearly the same is true for books.  While we see a weakening in the market for books, the supply of new ones coming at us every day seems endless.  If someone picks up one of our books and isn’t captured by the first sentence, and if that sentence doesn’t lead on to the next, and the next, and so on, with building wonder, excitement, mystery, or what have you, then why would the reader bother to continue?

Back in my WEbook days I saw no end of short stories and novels that had a note attached, “it starts slow, but it gets better”.  I never read any of those.  Would you? 

Some months back I posted a list of great opening sentences.  Today I want to challenge you to take up the mantle of burgeoning greatness, and write one good opening paragraph.  Consider three or four sentences, each one leading to the next in a way that will pull your reader along.  Post your paragraph here if you like, or keep it to yourself, but for the sake of your work, DO the process.  See if you can live up to yourself.

Your thoughts?


11 responses to “Daily Writers Challenge: How to Hook Your Readers

  1. It was a long and difficult pregnancy, an unending reminder of the brutal scene of the child’s conception. Sureya loathed the foetus with a fierce dread; honed by the heaving, bilious nausea that stopped her sleep and made her bedclothes reek of rancid sweat. She teetered on the edge of madness, sometimes wishing she could simply yield to its seduction.

    The rest of the story is here:http://theonlycin.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/a-writing-competition/

  2. It’s slow and steady. I’m finding the writing is needed in the details. But I’ve rewritten the opening of P. with the help of Sedentus. Hope you find it an improvement.
    The order had been placed, the order had been filled. A large Kenya Noir coffee and two French Crullers sat on the counter. Penny felt that her life too lay before her; horizons of choice and opportunity ready to take up, consume, absorb and ingest. Indeed, everything seemed to be in order.
    Then she heard something scratching on a metallic surface. Looking up, she saw the waitress, in complete consternation, tapping her fingers with a syncopated rhythm against the cash register. In the sound she recognized the startling reality of her situation. Gone were her illusions and idealities about her future. All had been thrown into a state of uncertainty and disorder.
    “I’m just looking for the right change. Can’t you serve another customer?”

  3. I was born a bastard, the spawn of no doubt drunken coupling of a poxy sailor and a tavern serving wench. Of my mother, I knew little; of my father, nothing. All of which served me well.

    The hard part is crafting what follows.

  4. Pingback: Daily Writers Challenge: How to Hook Your Readers (via Uphill Writing) « My Literary Quest

  5. 911 Revisited

    (Visit to a Hallowed Ground)

    I looked on a shallow dish of dirt, raked and dug out, and still seething. From where I stood at the portico of St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street from across what used to be the World Trade Center, I gazed and gaped incredulous. How could it seem so small, so nothing now?

    That now hallowed ground I had once walked on, eyes up where the twin towers held up the sky was raw like a vulture’s leftover meal — the vulture that had zipped into it from the same sky.

    The smell of burning still tarnished the air: it was sharp and pungent. Thin spirals of smoke still seeped off the ground where the dying has not ended. There was a stench in the downtown train I thought must be someone’s mess or as the friend I was with said, could be the cleaning agent used. And then, I realized it was the stench of decaying flesh.

    For the first time on this visit to New York, three months after the disaster that the world now calls by its date, September Eleven, I finally lived the nightmare…

    (read the rest of it at http://filipineses09.wordpress.com)

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