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.)

Comments
6 Responses to “Writing Prompt #56: Where is your hook matey?”
  1. disperser says:

    The torn shirt and exposed shoulder drew Nick’s eyes. More important, the visible machinery beneath the torn skin had Nick miss her plea.

    “Pardon?” He asked, lifting his eyes to her perfectly formed face.

    “Please, help me.” The flat voice contrasted the intent of the plea.

    She turned as a car braked hard to stop just short of Nick’s garage. Standing at his front door, Nick could only see two of the three men who got out. The girl, or whatever it was, backed against the wall to the side the door frame, speaking another “Please” as she did so.

    The third man came into view, and advanced toward machine-girl, reaching a hand out as he did so.

    “Please step back, sir. We’re from the government.”

    His hand grabbed the girl’s elbow, and pulled. She resisted. With obvious anger and a snarl, he pulled roughly from the wall. Nick noticed one of her nails broke against the wall she was trying to hold on to.

    “Let her go.” Nick spoke calmly.

    The man turned toward him. “This does not concern you, old man. Get back in the house.”

    The other two men were reaching inside their jackets. Nick was faster. The Ruger Alaskan, the gun he carried on hikes, appeared in his hand. “Don’t!” he said, as he pointed it in their direction.

    The man let go of the girl, who dropped to the ground. “You are making a big mistake!” His voice was almost a growl, and Nick could tell he was judging the distance between them.

    “Maybe, but you are on my property, showed me no badges, and are assaulting my guest.” Nick had moved slightly back and to the side. He could see all three men, and they were all tense. Understandable, given the cannon pointed their way. “I’m within my rights to shoot you right now”.

    The man relaxed a bit, and stood straight. “I don’t know who you are, but as of this moment you are a dead man.”

    The three shots echoed against the hillside, the sound dispersing in the trees. Only one set of human ears heard the echo fade away. “Not by your hand.” Nick’s words were spoken almost with regret, but his face showed no emotion.

    He turned to the girl, now standing. Her face too showed no emotion.

    “What’s your name?” Nick asked.

    “Prototype G-1A”

    ================

    Please excuse errors . . . only had 20 minutes before lunch was over. Let me know what you think; good hook?

    • Yet again the king of the hook The Disperser takes an idea and not only runs with it but blows me away with it. Ladies and gentlemen if you didn’t feel that hook bite in and tug you right into this intro then you might need to get glasses. Not only did this bring up the question of “Who is this girl/What is this girl?” I have to say I am really curious who Nick is. What is this guy’s story that he isn’t that bothered by a metallic arm and is willing to blow three guys away to protect somebody he doesn’t know. Not to mention the questions of “Where are we?”. There are plenty of interesting questions that this raises. Some of them can be satisfied quickly but some will take the whole story. Well done! And when should we expect the rest of it?

      • disperser says:

        Sorry; that’s classified.

        I can tell you who Nick is. He is a guy with a very strong wrist. Three accurate quick shots from a Ruger Alaskan ain’t easy.

        He lives alone (either the wife died, or he never married) on his 150 acres in a remote area of New Mexico. He’s a retired engineer, a good shot, and does not take kindly to people who threaten to kill him. He likes Nutella, and is partial to salami and cheese sandwiches.

        All I can say about about the girl/machine is . . . she lied, sort-of. Her full name name is Urban Tactical Prototype G-1A . . . I better stop; they might come for me.

      • Good point. But then again if you got the skills might as well use them. Better than the alternative. And besides somehow it strikes me that if Nick has that gun and those skills, he probably has more guns and other skills. Not to mention a past that goes with them.

        I have to say I like the calm and collected posture he has in the scene. And the matter of fact shots speak of someone who kills when they have to and doesn’t pause or over think it. But there is a hint of something there that says volumes about why he can do that.

        I’m telling you, good start with a huge potential.

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