Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How To Hook Your Reader

And now for a little writing advice from my favorite book doctor, Jason Black  .This post is taken from a session he gave at the summer 2011 PNWA conference, entitled, How to Hook the Reader.

There are four parts to hooking your reader:
1. Show your characters.
2. Put them in conflict.
3. Foreshadow catastrophe.
4. Include interesting context.

First- Character based hooks. You need to make your reader wonder about your character. They need to ask- *Who is this person? *What’s he doing and why? *What’s special about him? *How did he end up this way?

Second- Conflict hooks. You need conflict in every scene. Ask yourself- Did I show conflict? What was the conflict about? How did it start? Why will anyone care about this conflict?

Third- Catastrophe hooks. Readers need to feel that something is at stake. Ask yourself- What hangs in the balance? What are the consequences for success or failure? Did I open too big? (If you open big, where do you go? It is hard to sustain middle chapters.) Am I giving hints or huge revelations?

Fourth- Context and Circumstance hooks. You need to get your reader wondering about the story. They need to ask themselves- Where is this place? What would it be like to be there? What are the rules of this place?


  1. Great advice. I love hooks. I love cliffhanger chapter endings. To learn how to do this, I actually "studied" Dan Brown's books. He's a master and I try to mimic some of his techniques in my books.

  2. I love hooks too. But it drives me nuts when they're at the end of the book.