“Make ’em laugh; make ’em cry; make ’em wait.” –Charles Reade
Many readers pick up a new book and begin with the first couple of pages to see if they want to continue; your task as a writer is to figure out how to hook your reader in these first moments. From exciting action to a teasing puzzle waiting to be solved, there are many ways to begin your story to ensure your audience will be interested. Here are four tips to master when learning how to hook your reader.
How to Hook Your Reader: 4 Tips for Fiction Writers
- Begin with an Important Moment
“High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour.” –David Lodge, Changing Places
If you start your novel at a pivotal moment in the story, your reader will likely want to read on so they can find out what happens afterward. You are always welcome to add backstory later in the story to help set the scene, so feel free to begin at a very important moment and backtrack later. Beginning the novel near the end is a great tactic for building suspense and hooking your reader.
- Invoke Wonder
“Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.” –Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye
Painting a picture and making your audience wonder is one of the best ways to hook your reader. Use symbols, present an interesting idea and give them only a piece of the story to make them ask questions. If you were a reader, what would you wonder about when perusing your novel?
- Introduce an Interesting Character
“The first time I saw Catherine she was wearing a vivid crimson dress and was nervously leafing through a magazine in my waiting room. She was visibly out of breath.” –Dr. Brian Weiss, Many Lives, Many Masters
While you shouldn’t introduce too many major characters in the beginning for fear of confusing your readers, you should introduce major players in an interesting way. The above first line by Dr. Brian Weiss makes you wonder and sets the stage for interesting character development.
- Ask ‘What If?’
“Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.” –Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups
The ‘What If?’ Hook can also be referred to as the Concept Hook. Pose a scenario or idea to your audience and have them imagine what would happen. Create an interesting narrative where something happens differently than expected.
Beginning your novel at a pivotal moment, making your readers wonder, asking “What If?” and introducing an interesting character are all great ways to hook your reader and leave them wanting more. For more fiction writing tips, read additional articles on my blog today!