Three Ways to Hook a Reader


• Explosion: The DaVinci Code. Strong verbs, violence, action, set up the exotic locale and bigger than life characters.

• Character Hook: The Sun Also Rises and David Copperfield. We’ve got heroes and boxing champs in the opening sentences, followed by some contradictory sort of info that fleshes out our characters.

• The World: Lonesome Dove. You just can’t beat blue pigs—in context—for setting a world. Note that we don’t learn a lot about Augustus but we do know a fair amount about his world almost immediately.

So—decide what kind of opening paragraph you want, in general terms.Then, in three or four sentences, do what these examples did. If you get stuck, stay tuned. I'll talk about templating some opening paragraphs later.

A word of caution: pick one way to hook. Don’t try to do a character, action and world hook all at the same time. Sell the small details, set the hook, thenmove on to the rest of the story.

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