A “thinking out loud” post.
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 and 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.
My 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.