Hooking Your Readers and NaNoWriMo Update

National Novel Writing Month has been a blast for me.  I’ve been knocking out about 1,700 words every day and it’s a great feeling.  My book “Dreamspire” is coming along nicely and I’ll be sure to share an excerpt soon.  

If you have not yet begun, it is not too late!  Get typing-today.  Even if you can’t quite hit the 50,000 mark, you’ve done something wonderful: you’ve got your start.  I find that that is often the hardest part about writing a book. Once you’ve gotten the momentum going, it is much easier to keep going.  

I would like to continue with my Roy Elementary writing series and talk about hooking your reader.  

It used to be that novelists were not expected to get right to the point.  They spent pages upon pages of giving background, describing the setting, etc, etc, ad nauseum.  Just pick up “Moby Dick” or “Les Miserables” or “War and Peace” if you want an example of what I’m talking about.  

Those days are gone. We live in an age of movies, TV shows and internet, where people want quick results.  They want to be drawn into the story right away, given a reason to care and then drawn along on exciting adventure.  If you don’t write like this, your potential reader will probably put your book down and go back to updating his Facebook status for the 10th time that day. 

The principles of hooking your reader are the same as hooking a fish: you need good bait.  The following are some things that you might consider using as bait for your readers: 

Mysteries/Good questions
High stakes/a lot to lose
Strange characters/places
Strong words
Interesting, vivid, quick descriptions

On the other hand, you don’t usually catch fish with poor bait.  For example: 

Cliché’s, things that people have heard before (It was a dark and stormy night)
Things that move slowly-long descriptions, a long back story
No action, “Is something going to happen already?” 

Consider the difference of the two beginnings to a story: 

“Once upon a time, it was a dark and stormy night.  Fred sat in his chair and thought of a summer, long, long ago, on a beach far, far away.” 

When Billy got home, a black box lay on his bed.  Atop the box, in vivid red writing lay a note: “Do not open until midnight on pain of death.” 

The first, is clichéd and launches us directly into a flashback.  The second creates an immediate sense of urgency and mystery.  

That’s all for this post.  Visit http://www.nanowrimo.org if you haven’t already and get your story started with the perfect hook! 

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