Writers on Writing

How to write a hook that offers the promise your #novel will fulfill

English: The main screen of Albite READER 2
Do the first lines of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland work for you? | English: The main screen of Albite READER 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Author Dave King shared an interesting article yesterday on Writer Unboxed titled, Beyond the First Five Pages. In his post, he discusses the importance of writing a good hook that both draws the reader in and leads the reader properly into the rest of the story.

I’m only working on my second novel now (not counting the 872 false starts that I wrote before finally finishing something!), so I’m no expert. However, in my most-humble opinion, I think it is best to worry about your hook after the rest of the story has been written.

I agonized far too much over the first few pages of my first novel. I changed “where the story begins” so many times, I lost count. Eventually, the beginning of the story revealed itself, but not until I had gotten the rest of the story out of my head and onto the page.

My current WIP starts like this (literally—in the old-fashioned sense of the word):

First line, need a good hook – what is happening right now? Damaris listened in on the conversation as she made the rounds of the pre-wedding festivities. She had been put in charge of monitoring the champagne glasses and cricking a finger at the nearest help-child whenever a guest became dangerously close to emptying his or her glass. As sister to the bride, she also mingled with the guests, many of whom commented on Damaris’ new status as eldest unmarried daughter of a Head Council member.

It’s all sorts of telling rather than showing. I’m sure no one wants to read the book based on what I have shared above. But, it’s a first draft, so that’s okay. I’m about 3/4 of the way through the first draft, and my thoughts on what should happen in that first chapter continue to evolve. I will eventually return to the first chapter and will most likely write an entirely new first chapter that offers the promise that is fulfilled in the remainder of the novel. For now, I’m not worried. I have learned that if I wait until I have figured out the first chapter to continue writing, I will never finish the book.

What is your process for developing the first few pages of a novel? Please share in the comments below!

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