Friday, May 21, 2010

Michele Torrey: story beginnings, part 2

She's continuing the lesson at her blog with a discussion of hooks:

For me, picking out a new book is as simple as reading its first page. Does it grab me? Do I want to read more? Do I want to read it badly enough to: a) check the book out? b) spend my hard-earned money on it?

As writers, it’s our job to draw the reader in, to make them care enough to keep turning the pages. One of the tricks-of-the-trade is to ask a story question. Story questions are statements that beg answering, situations that must resolve. Story questions can be monumental or minuscule and are woven throughout a story from beginning to end. When a story question is posed at the beginning of a book, it is called a hook. In general, hooks should occur within the first few sentences of the beginning of a story. Here are three examples of hooks (all first sentences):

* “The morning the wagon came to take Monette away, the air was biting crisp and a sheen of frost covered the canefields.” — The Dreaming by Michele Torrey (manuscript) (The hook: Why is a wagon coming to take Monette away, and where is it going to take her?)
* “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.” – To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (The hook: How did Jem break his arm?)
* “It was almost December and Jonas was beginning to be frightened.” — The Giver by Lois Lowry (The hook: Why is Jonas beginning to be frightened?)

Read the rest

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