HOOKING READERS


HOOKING READERS

Natalie Bright

The best way to hook a reader is to create memorable characters that are real, not cardboard. Make your main character (MC) have flaws, which can be physical, internal issues like guilt, hate, shame. This makes characters relatable and unforgettable.

Provide readers with insight into your MC head. It’s not safe with this character, you can never tell what they might do. Hook them with the unexpected and give your characters a secret.

Hook readers with a setting, fantasy or unusual place. Let your setting be a character in itself by providing imagery. Paint a word picture.

Struggles hook the reader, never let your main character have what she wants. Throw every obstacle you can at them and end your chapter with an emotional punch.

Example Ending Chapter Hook: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (By J. K. Rowling) from Chapter 3:

One minute to go and he’d be eleven. Thirty seconds…twenty…ten…nine—maybe he’d wake Dudley up, just to annoy him—three…two…one…

BOOM!

The whole shack shivered, and Harry say bolt upright, staring at the door. Someone was outside, knocking to come in.”

There is no human alive that can resist turning that page and reading the next chapter.

Hope your 2020 be a productive one!

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook, soon to be released September 1, 2020. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas Series, adventure stories for middle grade. 

PAGE-TURNING CHAPTER ENDINGS


PAGE-TURNING CHAPTER ENDINGS

Natalie Bright

Here’s a list of ideas on how you can entice readers to keep turning the pages, even when they reach the end of a chapter.

Sharon Dunn, in her article from the book A NOVEL IDEA, recommends splitting a scene into multiple chapters to hold the reader’s interest. She explains, “…look for the moment in the story when there would be a question planted in the reader’s mind.” 

Here are other ways to end your chapter:

  • With a cliffhanger
  • Your main character has been harmed. The reader is concerned and keeps reading.
  • End with dialogue and a question.
  1. Create an Arrival. A perfect example posted in a previous blog from Charlaine Harris’ EASY DEATH: The sight of two strangers sitting on the bench outside my front door seemed so wrong and bad I had to blink to make sure they were really there.
  • Reveal something new. 
  • End at the beginning of the next scene and carry on in the next chapter.
  • Add to the theme or setting with description.
  • Insight, flashbacks or internal struggles relating to your main character with internal dialogue.

May 2020 be a productive one!

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook, soon to be released September 1, 2020. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas Series, adventure stories for middle grade. 

The Bait


POSTCARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Bait

By Nandy Ekle

I am the daughter of a fisherman. My dad can catch anything that swims in the water. When I was a pre-teen, Daddy would plan family outings to the “barge”—a barn-type building that sits on the lake with big holes cut in the floor, rails around the holes, and chairs. We would sit in those chairs for hours with lines in the water, the line wrapped around our fingers, and books in our laps. He made his own homemade bait, and when that ran out, we would catch mayflies or other harmless bugs from the corners of the building to use as bait.

So, this is a blog about writing. Why am I talking about fishing? 

Our readers are like fish deep in the water and our job is to catch as many as possible. But you absolutely cannot catch a fish without bait. If you drop a line with a bare hook into the water, it will hang there until you reel it up and go home.

In the writing world, this is called “THE HOOK.” 

Another thing my dad would do is go out to the lake earlier in the week and drop a bucket full of “chum,” something to call his favorite kind of fish to the area so that when he showed up for the real action, the fish would be present looking for treats.

When you start a story, you need to feed the readers something to make them hungry for more. I’ve heard from successful writers to start your story the day something is different for your main character. For example, JK Rowling starts the entire Harry Potter series with a young orphan living with relatives who resent his presence. His life is not fun in the least. And what happens? He gets a letter delivered to him by an owl. In the world he grew up in, owls do not deliver mail. And even if they did, it wouldn’t be to him, a nobody. So the reader is immediately saying, “What?!” And they have to keep reading to find out why this little boy gets his first piece of mail ever, and it’s delivered by an owl. 

She fed the readers just enough to make them hungry for more.

 

A Blast From the Past


A Blast From the Past

By Adam Huddleston

Several years ago, I entered a short story in a collection entitled “The Darwin Murders”.  This week I just wanted to share this brief “blast from the past.”

A Beautiful Sunday Drive

By Adam Huddleston

Well hello Mr. I-refuse-to-move-over-and-allow-cars-to-enter-the-interstate-from-the-onramp.  Yes, I realize that legally you have the right of way and I am sure that whoever you’re texting is anxiously awaiting your next dim-witted post.  However, it would be nice if I didn’t have to slide around your car like a road ninja in order to match the speed of traffic.

Now that I’m behind you, filling up my lungs with the fumes from an exhaust that needs attention, I see that you’ve chosen to drive a safe ten miles an hour below the limit.  Perhaps the mobile device in front of your face is affecting your vehicle’s RPMs.  

I see that Murphy’s Law is well in affect as we are destined to take the same exit.  I follow you to the next stoplight only to discover that both of our destinations are to the right.  Another five miles reading your banal bumper stickers and I decide upon the most appropriate course of action.

I notice that for some odd reason, you have chosen to move the speedometer’s needle to ten miles over the speed limit in a school zone.  As we leave said zone, I recall a car chase video I’d seen years ago.  A slight tap of your right rear bumper with my vehicle sends your heap out of control.

My rearview mirror frames the accident nicely.  A madman’s laugh escapes me as I watch your car first flip several times then burst into flames.  

I hope you hit the “Send” button first.  

CHAPTER HOOKS: More Examples


CHAPTER HOOKS: More Examples

Natalie Bright

This month we are blogging about chapter hooks. Thanks for joining us. 

I stepped out of my usual reading zone of romance and women’s fiction, to read a Charlaine Harris book. She can really build the tension and keep you on the edge of your seat. I read late at night and her words stories are in my head when I wake up the next morning. Her chapter hooks are excellent. Here are a few ending chapter sentence examples from EASY DEATH by Charlaine Harris. Genre: fantasy, thriller, violent and bloody.

  1. Even as I fired at the bandit, I saw he’d stopped and aimed. The truck lurched, my gun belt caught on the damn nail, and the world came to an end.
  2. The sight of two strangers sitting on the bench outside my front door seemed so wrong and bad I had to blink to make sure they were really there.
  3. I kept on walking. No one called the police. No one pointed and screamed She’s the one! Or Look at that blood! And I began to realize I really wasn’t going to get caught, thanks to Klementina’s gift.
  4. The third day after the dog attack, Jael could walk on her own, and we made better time. That day, early in the afternoon, we walked into Corbin.

NEXT CHAPTER: Corbin was a busy town…

In the fourth example, notice how she ends in mid-journey but picks it right back up at the beginning of the new chapter. 

May 2020 be a productive one!

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook, soon to be released September 1, 2020. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas Series, adventure stories for middle grade. 

Start with a Hook


 

Start with a Hook

Rory C. Keel

All of the exciting details, ports of call and the swashbuckling adventure of your story will mean nothing if the reader isn’t interested. To bring your reader along, you need to pique their interest, start with a hook.

Why would I go down this road?

Give me a reason to cross that line.

An image of a road to the horizon with text start

 

CHAPTER HOOKS


CHAPTER HOOKS

Natalie Bright

Have you ever read a book with the intention of putting it down at the end of the chapter, only to realize you’re 5 chapters in? The chapter ending hook is where you end your scene and entice readers to turn the page as defined in Rory’s blog post here https://wordsmithsix.com/2020/02/05/narrative-fishing/

Here are a few chapter ending hook examples from the book I’m reading now, THE SEARCH by Nora Roberts. Genre: romance.

  1. She pushed herself up, shut down the laptop. 

“I’m going to take that long bath, drink that stupid tea. And you know what? We’re going to book that damn villa. Life’s too damn short.”

  1. “I’m a fan of cold pizza.”

“I’ve never understood people who aren’t.” She rose, held out a hand for his.

  1. She walked out with them, stood with her arms folded over her chest against her thudding heart and the dogs sitting at her feet as they drove away. “Good luck,” she murmured.

Then she went inside to get her gun.

  1. Mai glanced at the doorway, lowered her voice. “I told the concierge not to leave a paper at our door in the morning. Just in case.”

“Good thinking.”

They heard the pop of a cork and Fiona’s shouted, “Woo-hoo.”

“Put it out of your mind,” Sylvia murmured. “So we can keep it out of hers.”

  1. And when he fell, he fell into her eyes.

Homework

Your homework is to choose several books by your favorite authors, preferably in the same genre of your WIP, and with pen and paper, write every last sentence or two of every chapter ending. No typing or reading, only handwriting. 

You will be amazed at how your brain will click on where to end chapters and how to leave an enticing hook for your readers.

Happy Writing!

Natalie Bright is the author of the upcoming KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN’: The All-American Chuck Wagon Cookbook, soon to be released September 1, 2020. She is also the author of the Trouble in Texas Series, adventure stories for middle grade. 

Narrative Fishing


Narrative Fishing 

Rory C. Keel

 

Yes, we are writing about story hooks this month at Wordsmith Six. We are learning how to keep our readers turning the page. So, we start with an action that pulls the reader further into the story. Anything that causes curiosity and interest from your reader is a narrative hook. It should cause a sensation in the reader to keep reading and turn the next page without stopping.

HOOK ‘EM


HOOK ‘EM

Lynnette Jalufka

This month’s topic is about hooks. A hook is the opening of a story that captures the readers’ attention enough to keep them reading the rest of the book. It usually means the first sentence.

I have been to several writing workshops that have used the opening line of Ken Follett’s The Key to Rebecca to illustrate a good hook: “The last camel collapsed at noon.”

Here’s another example from one of my favorite novels, Tahn by L. A. Kelly: “Tahn crept up the stone wall like a reptile silent after its prey.”

Would either of these openings make you want to read the next sentence, the paragraph, the entire chapter? Maybe, even the whole book? I have never read past the first chapter of The Key to Rebecca, but I’ve read Tahn many times.

Take a look at your favorite books. Were you hooked from the first sentence? Why or why not? Seeing how other authors opened their novels is the best way to learn how to capture your readers.

Due to health issues, I will be taking a break from this blog and hope to return later this year. Thank you for following Wordsmith Six. 

 

Another Cliche Book Review


POSTCARDS FROM THE MUSE

Another Cliche Book Review

By Nandy Ekle

Time for me to join in the ocean of reviews for the Harry Potter series, books one through seven. Yes, I love them as much as every other person in the world. As a reader, I have enjoyed every word of the epic hero on his journey to save his world. Bravo, Ms. Rowling! 

As a reader, I followed this poor orphan from the time before he even knew he was special up to the moment when I closed the last book and the only words that crossed my mind were, “But of course! How could it have been anything different?” And I’ve loved the books so much that I re-read them all, in order, about every other year. And I never get tired of them.

As a reader.

As a writer, I have a completely different view. Oh, I still adore the stories, the words, and the tongue-in-cheek writing style. I love the world, and I love the emotions that develop when it all comes together in such a grandiose way. But as a writer, I see much more than a good story.

Character development. Each and every single character in all seven books has a distinct arc. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Draco, and the other kids/young adults have what any reader would expect. Growing up, maturing, becoming adults. And Ms. Rowling captures the stages of growth perfectly. One of my friends says The Order of the Phoenix is her least favorite because the characters all so angry all the time. But since they are all 15 years old, it wouldn’t be as real if they weren’t angry.

But that’s a rabbit hole I’m not going through. The point is that even Dumbledore, McGonagall, Hagrid, Snape, Fudge, even Voldemort all have character arcs. In the first two books, Dumbledore seems a little distant, a little dodgy, maybe slightly off his rocker. He does show whisps of insight and wisdom, but this is something that doesn’t seem to actually come out until deeper into The Goblet of Fire. McGonagall, the stern, no-nonsense professor begins to show compassion and sympathy in The Order of the Phoenix. And I’ve always said I knew about Snape all along because of the energy Ms. Rowling used to make us hate him. There had to be a twist.

Consistency. Never have I read a series more consistent in voice, tone, world, and facts. I am in the middle of reading them all over again and as a writer I am picking up on things I missed the first couple of times I read them. One small item mentioned in the first book, then not again for two more books, suddenly appears in a later book and has become a cornerstone. And I can only ask how did Ms. Rowling do it? Amazing. Also, I’m discovering hints to the last pages of the last book in the first book that go completely undetected until BOOM! There it is.

Hooking her readers. Ms. Rowling is a master of this. The first words of each book are like glue. And the last line of each chapter causes gasps. And she has the incredible ability to retell parts of the story in a later book and it’s not an “info dump” at all. It’s perfect.

So, JK Rowling, your stories are destined to be considered as classics in the future. And I definitely look at them as learning tools for writers.