Sunday, September 28, 2014

Danging the Hook

By: Stephanie Burkhart 

You often hear: "A writer has to hook a reader quickly." I agree, yet creating a hook is not an easy thing to develop, especially for newer writers.

Consider the following: In today's world, there's an expectation of instant gratification. The average length of a commercial is 30 seconds. That's all a product has to "hook" you – 30 seconds.

So what's a hook in regards to a writer? A short, pithy sentence intended to make readers interested in your story.

Keep this in mind: When a reader is in a bookstore (or even browsing online) they consider the following when buying a book: #1 They notice the cover. #2 They read the book blurb. #3 They read the first sentence. If they like the experience, they're hooked. Total time? Between 30-60 seconds. Instant gratification.

Is your first sentence in your novel a hook?

Remember, a hook is a short, pithy sentence intended to make readers interested in your story, so it might very well be the first sentence. It could be the "pitch" sentence you tell others when they ask about your writing.

Remember: Hooks should be short, witty, and catchy.

What can you/should consider?

Make the reader scared or excited. (Blood soaked my shirt.)

Use a contradiction. (The world is going to hell around me, but I feel fine.)

Use an interesting description. (The obsidian forest bustled with life.)

Hooks should:

Grab a reader's attention.
Make readers hungry for more.
Make a great first impression.
Use strong, active verbs.
Imply or allude to the main conflict.
Consider the audience.


Can Sofia's faith give Darrin his heart back?

Travel with Caterpillar through the meadow learning to share and care about others.

Jocelyn Dunkirk plopped down in a chair and fussed with the ring on her finger.

Zoltan jerked the steering wheel too late.

Question: How do you hook readers? Do you have any tips you'd like to share? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. Raised in New Hampshire, she spent 11 years in the US. Army before settling in California. She loves coffee, adores chocolate, and is a den leader for her son's Cub Scout's den. "The Giving Meadow" and "First Flag of New Hampshire" are published with 4RV Publishing.








  1. Stephanie, great tips on creating 'hook' first sentences.

    I love the contradiction line: "The world is going to hell around me, but I feel fine."

  2. The line Karen pointed out was my favorite, too! A grabber for sure. Great job, Stephanie, on pointing out the hooks to dangle. Easier said than done, but you highlighted what is important to keep in mind. Thanks!