Well, creative writers, we’re done with NaNoWriMo and moving onto literary hooks, which non-fiction writers can appreciate too. This week, we’ll be delving into their definition, issuing challenges and writing rules about them.
So what are literary hooks, and what do they do? Great questions! You’re clearly an author-in-the-making who’s going places… publishing places, naturally.
But since flattery will only get you so far, let’s throw in an actual definition or two as well.
When it comes to narratives/stories or non-fiction books, a hook is a well-done, attention-grabbing beginning.
It’s the first few lines, paragraphs or, at most, pages, that ambush potential readers in psychological back alleys and snarl, “If you don’t come with me now, I swear you’re going to regret it!” Regret it as in they’ll be left wondering what happens next, listening to their imaginations cry out, “Why didn’t you buy that book!”
That’s what a hook is. And that’s what it does.
To simply call it a beginning without adding those “well-done” and “attention-grabbing” adjectives ahead of it just doesn’t do this literary invention justice. A hook is always a beginning, you see, but a beginning isn’t necessarily a hook.
Consider this: There are plenty of really boring story/narrative beginnings out there. Some of them are published. Some of them are not. But they just don’t have any real appeal right off the bat.
Perhaps they get good further in. I can think of more than one book that was phenomenal during the second half but insomnia-curing before that point, which is sad. The truth is that most readers simply won’t read past the hook. They do judge published works by their front covers, next by their jacket description… and then by their beginnings.
That’s why hooks are so exceptionally important. They can make or break your book sales, regardless of whether you’re self-published or traditionally published.
So why am I waiting until October to address such an imperative topic? Is there something wrong with me that I kept this definition hidden until well after we’ve gone through almost every other major literary term on the planet?
Once again, great questions. But I assure you this was intentional; and no, it wasn’t part of some devious plan to mess you and your manuscript up. Innovative Editing isn’t that evil, and it does know what it’s doing.
(Some of the time, anyway. Definitely in this case.)
Establishing a proper hook for your narrative is something you should worry about after you’re done writing the first draft. Writers too often stress out about perfecting their beginnings – to the point where they don’t ever write anything else. And rather like publishing a manuscript with a non-hook beginning, that’s just sad.
That’s why we’re not addressing hooks until now: to keep you and your readers from ultimate discontentment.
Temporary discontentment though? Something where there’s a clear problem established with the promise or hint of a solution by the end of the fiction or non-fiction narrative?
That could make an absolutely amazing hook – which is exactly what we’re going to explore on Thursday.