Thursday, June 2

You Need A Hook!

How many times as a writer have you heard that little nugget of wisdom?

You need to hook'em with your first paragraph, first five pages, your query letter, your synopsis. It's all about the hook.

I'm going to talk about the chapter hook. You know the one that makes them turn the page and read some more, even if it's two o'clock in the morning? Yeah, that hook.

I've been known to finish a chapter rather flatly and get crits back that say, "You need a hook."

And I immediately go into silent protest mode, "It's in the middle of the book. The reader's already invested, they'll keep reading."

I'll give you a minute to laugh now. Mwaahaahaaa

Okay. You done yet?

Yep. That was just the lazy writerly me that said that. This past week, I spent five days working
and reading the first three books in Cassan
dra Clare's Mortal Instruments Books. Nothing else got done in those five days. Even at work, I had my nose in one of those books on my lunch break.

And first, if you haven't read these, rush right out and get them. Even if you don't read YA, they're worth looking into because her chapter hooks are phenomenal. The reason I stayed up until two and three o'clock. I'd think, "Oh, I'll just finish this chapter and go to bed." Joke was on me. I'd get to her chapter hook and HAVE to read on.

And you know what? These were in the beginning of the book, the MIDDLE of the book, and the end of the book. Well, she blew my theory out of the water.

But I realized how important those middle hooks are. Those come when the reader is getting tired, fatigued, and possibly uncomfortable. That's the exact moment that you want, NO, need to give the reader a reason to turn the page and not put a bookmark in it. Your job as a writer is to keep people up into the wee hours of the morning.

So, guess what I'm focusing on in when I finally get to the rewrite stage of my book? Yep, those weak chapter hooks are out of here.


  1. I like your hook analogy. I think there should be a big hook to yank authors (like old vaudeville skits) out of complacency. I probably wouldn't have neck if they did.

  2. great point, Margie, and one I'm trying to implement through the revisions I'm now hip-deep in. :)

  3. Good post, Margie, and something we all need to remind ourselves to do.

  4. Good point! I've always kind of prided myself on my hooks. I like them, and like to try to make the reader think guess what, something more's coming!

  5. I'm reading City of Fallen Angels right now and yes, Cassandra Clare is the master of hooks. I love how she shifts POV right when she gets you with that hook. Amazing stuff.

  6. Very nice post!! I've had to go through my MS and sharpen the hooks at the end of many of my chapters.

  7. I also had this crazy idea that once you got to the middle of the book not every chapter needed a hook. But then, a reader has no reason to turn the page. Gotta have that hook!