Today’s Tool: The HOOK


So do stories.

What’s yours? Read the first line of your story or article. Does it draw the reader in? Will they want to read more? Why?

What’s the definition of a HOOK? It’s the first sentence and first few paragraphs of your story. It should begin in the middle of an incident that zeros in on your character and gives the reader of screen shot of his life and why his situation is important.

Editors and agents can tell a TON by reading the first page of your novel. They know right away if you HAVE it, or not. If you don’t, you’ll land in the slush pile. Brutal truth.

Let’s take a look at a few of my fave one-liners:

Physicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh, and he knew it was his own.” Dan Brown, Angels and Demons

“Whoosh. That was the sound of another high profile prisoner being sent into eternity.” John Burke, Empress Hunter: 2010

The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.” Donna Tartt, The Secret History

“I’m what you call an orphan, I guess. Officially, I’m a ward of the state of Texas.Jenny B. Jones, In Between

“PJ Sugar would never escape trouble.” Susan May Warren, Nothing but Trouble

“I wasn’t surprised when Mama asked me to save her life.” Randy Susan Meyers, The Murderer’s Daughters

“My conscience must be out of order.“
Michael Synder, My Name is Russell Fink

“Ever hear the dead knocking?“
Dark Pursuit by Brandilyn Collins.

“Darkness is a robe that cloaks an eerie choir, and sleepless is the protector of the innocent.”  Bryan Davis, Third Starlighter (Tales of Starlight)

“What do you mean she’s gone?” Jill Williamson, To Darkness Fled (Blood of Kings, book 2)

“How nice it must be to sleep so peacefully when doom awaited at dawn.” Amanda L. Davis, Precisely Terminated (The Cantral Chronicles)

“I was just seven when my childhood ended.” By Wayne Thomas Batson, The Errant King, The Cark Sea Annals, Book 2 

 “Cruising the sparkling aisles of Catalano’s Supermarket, I lost my sanity buying frozen apple juice.” Chrsita Allan, Walking on Broken Glass 

“Look, I didn’t want o be a half-blood.” Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson and the Olympians

“All winter break, I’d planned for this moment, the one about to happen.” Stephanie Morrill, Out With The In Crowd (The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt)

HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR HOOK? With practice. Get in the habit of picking up books to read the first line. Do they captivate you? Move you? Why/why not? Read first-lines in the books on your shelves or at the library.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is your character?
  • What does she want? What will happen if she doesn’t get it?
  • What is she feeling in the beginning scene. Why?
  • What’s at stake?
  • What recently changed in her life?
  • What dilemma is she struggling with right at that moment?
  • What about the story matters to you? What about the story matters to your character?
Now start your beginning scene in the middle of that emotion and GIVE ME A LINE.


Susan May Warren teaches how to create a HOOK here:  My Book Therapy


Study up and come back tomorrow to post your HOOK for the following photo:


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