Friday, December 11, 2009

Chapter Hooks

I think chapter hooks can be some of the hardest things to write. Tweaking words to get a combination just "write" to entice the reader to continue reading. That first page, that moment between life and death for a book sale, when a reader picks up your book and opens the cover. They have two choices now, slam it shut and snort in disgust or run to the checkout counter.

From my own personal reader experience, I detest the opening lines that runs on. Remembering learning that is 3rd grade English class? I find nothing worse than to try to digest a huge sentence with completely foreign characters and events in a new book.

So when I wrote the opening scene in my current work in progress (WIP), I tried to make it as intense as possible, with quick snappy sentences, to slowly lead my reader into the tale I am telling. But having never been in the situation my character is in, I wasn't able to pull it off. Then I was given the chance to have someone read that first prologue. I have never received better advice- she couldn't connect with my character! Wow, that was really helpful to know. I went back over, poured over making my character worth the money a reader would spend. I don't know if I've succeed yet, but I hope so.

I tell you, it's not easy, but nothing is as satisfactory as to create that riveting chapter hook. To sit back and know you have succeeded. You won't hit the perfect chapter hook on the first try, probably won't on the second either, but it's worth the multitude of tries.

Whether you write or not, we all love an intense beginning. When we walk into a book store and open that cover, we want to be so riveted, we don't notice being bumped and jostled around by other customers.

What is a book that you read that had a fantastic chapter hook and kept you riveted the entire novel through? I'll start: Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman.

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