Writing Prompt #56: Where is your hook matey?
Every good story starts with a hook. Something that grabs you are keeps a part of your brain wanting to come back and read more. Even when you put the book down that part still ticks the seconds down until your hands pick the book back up and start reading again. But how do we write a good hook? That is something that plenty of people have tried to tackle and define. Do you start in the middle of an action scene? Just throw your readers head long into a maelstrom of crazy. Do you start with an intriguing prologue? Info-dump a huge amount of information directly into the readers brain so they understand what is going on when they get to the first chapter. Or do you throw the reader a question? The kind of question that makes the reader need to find the answer. This writing prompt is going to focus on the last one… The Question.
The easiest form of this hook can be found in a murder mystery: Who done it? What better question to be the hook that sinks into the reader and makes them read on to find the next clue. While this is the easiest to spot, it is not necessarily the easiest to write. You can’t just ask the question and not give clues so the reader can figure out the answer for themselves. Or more properly the right amount of clues so they come up with the answer just after you reveal it giving them the ‘Well of course he did it, it all makes sense.’ But there are plenty of other examples of good story questions put into the hook of the book. My personal favorite will be from Moby Dick. “Call me Ishmael” is not a normal thing to say. And considering this is the first thing that you read it makes you immediately wonder “Who is this guy, Ishmael?” And there is your hook. You want to read on and find out more about this guy. Granted the more you read the more the author gets the hook into you. (Or that is the plan.)
So what is your hook? For this prompt I am going to make it easy on you. I am going to give you a couple of different story questions. And then you can write the opening paragraph that uses the question as the hook. You can make this as obtuse or obvious as you want. As long as your end product makes you sit back and want to write more. If you are itching to write more than that probably means you as a reader is itching to answer the question as much as your future real readers.
Who is this guy? (This being the Moby Dick Example but simpler. Introduce an engaging character. This is a short-term hook that will need another to really get the reader.)
How did the main character get into this mess? (This is a good question for starting in the middle of an action scene.)
How are they going to stop the bad guy? (Another question for books that start from in a scene with the bad guy doing bad things. Or at least getting ready to do bad things.)