Thoughts Regarding ‘Opening Hooks’

A “thinking out loud” post.

fish_hookI’ve said I’d not write about writing, giving others advice, and in truth this post really isn’t about writing. It is more about what I’ve discovered and/or my current thoughts about ‘Hooks’.

I’ve seen blog-post after blog-post, exposition after exposition posted on the internet about ‘hooking your reader’.

In the critique group to which I belong, there is forum thread after forum thread on this topic. There is even a group that has been formed (Hooking your Readers) to help polish ‘hooks’.

All the emphasis is placed on the first paragraph(s) [sometimes page(s), but most times just paragraph(s)]. The consensus is that every ‘hook’ should grab the reader immediately, and mostly the comments shovel every writer toward a certain type of opening. Soon all the books in the genre taste like the same type of fish. 

Yet a good fisherman chooses his/her hook, bait, and the weight of his/her fishing line, etc. dependent upon the fish he/she wants to catch (in this case fish=reader). Logically that means a variety of types of ‘openings’ would work as hooks within every genre since a hook is dependent upon the audience.

If ‘they’ say your opening is boring and you need a hook, consider their ideas fish_hookand suggestions. But, instead of letting the posts, threads, and group advice about an ‘effective hook’ for your story rule your life and writing, I would say to consider all the advice from others, until you’ve developed your own voice/style. At that point  listen to yourself and your story.

Took me a long time to reach that conclusion and it isn’t easy because each of us wants to write a “popular” story/novel etc. (That may be the voice/style you want to develop and if it is –do it!).

99% of the stories/novels with so-called “excellent hooks” leave me cold and totally uninterested as a reader. I began writing because I could/would go to the bookstore and leave without making any purchases in my favorite genre.

owl1My conclusion after a lengthy time considering the issue is: Be the wise old owl and listen to yourself and your story. That path may make your potential and/or actual audience smaller (maybe not), agents and/or publishers may reject your writing (maybe not), however, in my opinion, in the long run, you’ll be much happier with yourself and your stories, novels, etc.




6 thoughts on “Thoughts Regarding ‘Opening Hooks’

  1. Well said, Susan. There are different kinds of hooks. Not all of them are in your face, hook me in the lip and drag me into the story. Some of my favorites are subtle, gentle tugs that worked just as well for me. As writers, we do need to find our own voice and sometimes turn a deaf ear to well meaning advice. In the long run, it is your story. You have to write it in your own way.

  2. Hooks! I was so excited to see your blog title because I love scene ending hooks – but then I realized you were talking about the Story Opening Hook. Ugg. That’s a tough, tough call. Why is it so grueling? Because it has to be perfect. That one line or one paragraph or one page could make or break the entire story. You offer some great insight in your post. I love your suggestions to listen to ourselves and our stories. The Opening Hook has to be perfect to us first before it will ever be right for an agent, editor, or reader.

    • Danielle
      Actually didn’t even think while writing this about chapter ending hooks – mainly because if an author gets me to read the 1st chapter – I’m vested enough in the character(s) that I’ll finish the book so my tastes don’t require a hook at the end of each chapter.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • Hi, Nancy
      Have no idea if they are wise or not, just where I am at the moment. After more years — it will probably change again 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

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