Today, I want to address something super duper important to my fellow writers. Before you click the little red X on the right hand corner of your screen, know this post could mean the difference between a reader buying your book or setting it back on the shelf.
Think about it, no, better yet, I want you to venture to your nearest bookstore and watch the people as they scan the bookshelves in search of the perfect story, one that will transport them away from all the miseries of this world, to a world where someone else is facing miseries, because let's face it, nobody wants to read a story without conflict.
But this post isn't about conflict. It's about the magic moment we pick up a book and decide to spend our hard earned $$$ on it. For me, that crucial decision occurs in the first two paragraphs. Others may have more patience than me, but not much.
If we writers don't captivate readers right out of the gate, our book's life expectancy dwindles. Fast. Do you see what I did with the title to this post? Of course you do, because you're all a bunch of savvy peeps who know what's what. But for the few who stayed up too late, boozing, studying, or playing X-Box, I'll explain myself and my shocking antics.
I used a crazy title to draw you all to my page. Yes, I know you guys are all aware of HOOKS and how important they are, but this is one horse that can't be rode too hard or too long. WE GOTTA HOOK OUR READERS, OR THEY PUT OUR BOOKS DOWN AND PICK UP ANOTHER ONE. IF THAT BOOK HOOKS THEM, THEN THEY SPEND THEIR $$$ ON IT, INSTEAD OF OURS!!!
Think CRAZY! Think SHOCKING! Or you can always toss out a SECRET, right at the very beginning of your book. Whatever you use, make sure it's something to cause the potential buyer to keep reading because if they do, you've probably HOOKED them.
I'll end this post with the opening paragraphs to my WIP, Trip Wire. Okay, deep breaths...butterflies in stomach... here goes...
Smoke laced with death and decay wrap around the thick July air as I sit on the creek bank, ticking off this morning’s body count. Reading the sign on the tree, (Trespassers will be killed on sight!) I wonder if the people I shot last night were illiterate. Or maybe they thought we were bluffing. Whatever the case, they were either looking for information or protection. Both are a liability we can’t afford.
As the outsiders grow more desperate, so do the morning fires. It’s not a pretty sight, the bloated flesh sizzling in the flames, but it’s the most sanitary way to dispose of Strays and easier than digging graves. To keep the fire from spreading, I dip a bucket in the water and pour it into the trench circling the inferno. Satisfied with my containment measures, I hang the bucket on a tree.
From the corner of my eye, I spot a lone figure crossing old man Cleary’s property. When my ID Badge doesn’t beep, I know he doesn’t have a badge of his own, which makes him a Stray. In a few minutes, I’ll likely add another corpse to the pile. Though just having emerged from the river, I’d rather not. For once I’d like to stay clean—no blood on my hands.
Still taking calming, deep breaths...okay, do you get what I'm saying? I hope this is a good example of a hook. If not, feel free to burst my bubble. I've got thick skin. Also, I'd love to have examples from you guys. Maybe throw out a one liner, or a two, three or four liner.
Until next time, happy writing or whatever makes you smile. :)