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  1. theoriginalmonsterman

    theoriginalmonsterman Professional Pickle Delivery Pickle Contributor

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    What should include in a hook on 1st page

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by theoriginalmonsterman, Nov 12, 2016.

    There has been a story that I've been wanting to write for awhile, but this is one of my ideas that I really want to go far. Problem is that I can't come up with a good introduction sentence otherwise known as a "hook" sentence.

    The sentence would kick off the prologue in which the story introduces the main antagonist(s), but then it will eventually trail off to the main plot in which these antagonists won't appear for quite awhile.

    To give a brief description of the prologue: it takes place in a world where that world's heroes have all been killed off and only one lone survivor remains as this group of antagonists who seek to destroy all existence of life approach him.

    I've been struggling with this for awhile since a lot of well-known stories have an incredibly powerful hook sentence, and I really don't want to screw this up.

    Here's a couple of examples that I've been messing around with, but I was wondering what you guys' personally think. Feel free to let me know.

    1. Life and death, they’re both connected, yet at the same time still separated. While one brings hope and joy, the other brings sadness and fear. Truth be told is that one encompasses the other with a grand amount of power. This is death.

    2. Death remains a mystery while it continues to ravage our world with fear and destruction. The frightening reality it attains drives many into insanity, but we are still left to wonder what would happen if its powers were given to that of an ordinary man?

    3. Legend tells of a man who has been gifted the power of death. With an organization of miscreants both maniacal and sadistic, this man rides across the intergalactic landscape in constant search of worlds in which they destroy without any hesitation.
     
  2. TheWriteWitch

    TheWriteWitch Active Member

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    (Working backwards because it's that kind of morning.)

    I think #3 works better as a tagline, the kind of one-sentence summary you use to pitch your story.

    #2 doesn't resonate in the way I think you want. Using a question as a hook and including 'our' and 'we' feels like it puts the work on the reader.

    #1 presents very strong and interesting ideas, I just think you should whittle it down to make the point sharper: Death encompasses life, holding all hope and joy in the crushing grip of its inevitable power.
     
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  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I doubt you want to hear it, but they also sound like the classic "prologue mistake" to me - all three of these feel like they're setting up a long introduction before we get to the story.

    For me as a reader, the best way to hook me is to tell me a story. Not an introduction to a story, but the story itself.

    What is your character doing when the story itself begins? Is there a reason we can't start with that?
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2016
  4. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    You won't know for sure what your beginning sentence should be until you've got the whole story written and in front of you—so just jump in and get it written.

    You don't need a hook sentence. What you need is a hook. Something that makes your reader want to read the next sentence. It's not a statement of purpose or theme or a philosophical statement ...it's the start of your story.

    Just intrigue the reader by what is happening at the start of your story. Write your story, see what you've got, and then open with something that will launch the reader in the right direction. Don't get hung up on crafting a perfect opening sentence at this stage. You'll waste a lot of time, because, believe me, if you ever get your story written, you WILL be changing the beginning again!

    You've got a sole survivor watching a group of people approaching that he knows are intent on killing him? Show us that scene, probably from the POV of the guy on his own—or even from the POV of one of the killers. An opening like that will get your reader's attention without any philosophy or high language at all. It doesn't matter if it's a prologue or a chapter one. It still needs to start with something the reader wants to continue reading about.
     
  5. theoriginalmonsterman

    theoriginalmonsterman Professional Pickle Delivery Pickle Contributor

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    It would be easy for me to just start the story, but win I say these antagonists won't appear for a while I say that with reason. The idea I had of having a prologue is to let reader's know of their existence before the story begins, so when they do end up popping up it's not as random and forced in. I do agree that these sentences do sound like the prologue will be dragged on. The reason I also want to start with a prologue is that the main plot has a bit of a slow start. Maybe a more reasonable way to deal with this is to have the concept for the prologue mixed in with the first chapter.

    That's a good point, and I suppose I should just go with that for now. It's pretty easy to slip in a introduction sentence whenever I want.
     
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  6. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. Just start. Start writing the story wherever you want. You can add stuff on to change the beginning later. What's the scene you most want to write? Start with that one, and have fun. A story has to have a progression that makes sense, but you don't have to write it in chronological order. The important thing is to get started, and to get it finished. Don't get hung up on the first sentence.
     
  7. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    You have to say something people haven't heard before, and you have to say it quickly and clearly. You think anywhere near as many people have heard of Pedro Alonzo Lopez (high score of 310 points) as have heard of Lee Harvey Oswald (high score of only 1 point)?
     
  8. Caveriver

    Caveriver Active Member

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    I think all of these have WAY too much packed into them. I feel like you might be trying to tell your entire store in one or two sentences. The less the better. For instance:
    I think this is the most powerful and direct of the choices you have given. I would rethink the second sentence though. There is a LOT going on in there. Even so, I think you do better with some description of an actual character than the philosophical stuff in the first two examples. Better to get a reader right into your story, letting them experience moral lessons though those characters. As a reader, I don't want to read a book where the narrator is giving me a moral directive, especially right off the bat. I want to experience what the characters are feeling, and be left to draw my own opinions as to how I feel about it.

    Aside from the grammatical hiccups in this, it's all very BROAD. If you have to make a statement like this, I feel it would be better toward the end, or better yet, communicated through the eyes of a character (with events to explain why he/she feels this way). Otherwise, I find myself asking the narrator for proof. I'm thinking: You're gonna have to tell my WHY you think life and death are connected, but separated, cuz this doesn't make sense. Depends on who you talk to whether or not they think life brings hope and joy... I'm thinking there's PLENTY of fear in life. Way more than death. If you're dead, you're dead. The dead guy isn't sad... he's dead, but the LIVING people he left behind might be sad, or AFRAID to die...
    See what I mean?

    What??

    Is this trying to give the narrator a voice? Feels clunky and unneeded.

    How do you mean? And what is death? I thought we were talking about life encompassing death, or the other way?

    I think you probably have big ideas of what you want your story to say. A theme, if you will. But don't feel like you have to tell us what it is in the first line. Just intro a character, or a narrator, or get into the story. The rest will work out. If stating the theme helps your work out your first draft, then so be it. It can always be smoothed out later. Don't get hung up on "one false word."

    Good Luck!
     
  9. Kerilum

    Kerilum Active Member

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    A character waking up from a nightmare.





    (It's a joke)
     
  10. B93

    B93 Active Member

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    There's your best advice.
     
  11. CaitlinCarver

    CaitlinCarver Member

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    I can currently sympathize with your position, as I too am beginning a story and looking to start on the right foot to take the reader hook, line, and sinker, as it were.

    Here's my two cents:

    • Write several beginnings. For one of them, start at the literal beginning - whatever that means for your story. In another, start at a turning point in the story then circle back to that point 100 or 150 pages later. In yet another, begin at the end. Sometimes (especially if it's a series that ends on a cliffhanger), a compelling end is all you need to catch your reader's attention.
    • As a reader, I always either read the summary first and/or flip to the middle to see if you're worth your weight when it comes to writing. So, focus on making your summary strong and keeping your skills sharp throughout the entire story.
    • Also, please don't start with sentence 3! It's more of a summary than a beginning, and you're better than that.
     
  12. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    I feel that I'm guessing in the dark here, because I've no idea what your story is about. Zombies? Who would seek to destroy "all existence of life" without destroying themselves as well, except if they weren't alive? Now that I think about it, it could be robots/AI...
    This said, and that I have absolutely no idea what your story is about, I hate the third. It sounds like a bad synopsis of a movie.
    The second is the one that got me more intrigued and willing to read, but this is only a personal opinion.
    I can accept the first if it stays at that and it immediately proceeds to tell the story.
    So, I voted for number two but I really can't say if it's the best for your story. I won't say that none of them is good, either, because sometimes a good story can make up for whatever first sentences the author comes up with. The most important part is what immediately comes next.
    Don't know if I've helped, but I meant to. :)
     
  13. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If they are random and forced in, the story needs work. If they pop into the story, that's an opportunity for mystery.

    Your sentences read like your idea for the story. It sounds interesting. I'm in agreement though that the readers don't need to know your idea for the story, they need to read your story. Reveal that backstory a little at a time.
     
  14. ToDandy

    ToDandy Senior Member

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    Your first two are too vague to be enticing or interesting. #3 works far better.

    The opening sentences of your novel only need to do ONE thing, entice the reader to keep going. Don't get so caught up in finding the perfect combination when simplicity will do.
     
  15. Spacer

    Spacer Active Member

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    The very first lines in a novel, not counting the Prologue. I opened with an event that initiates the chapter, and introduces the characters and the setting. As far as that goes, I still don't like how it’s crafted. Any suggestions?
    But, is that really the best idea for the hook? Is there a completely different way I might kick things off?

    Here’s the storyboard:
    A and B+C meet, somehow, in a jungle-gym pool at the water park. How to they initiate contact? B has no problem being on the prowl, and is already primed subconsciously to initiate contact with A when she sees him again (Prologue 4), so she sees him and approaches taking C along, and initiates contact.
     
  16. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    First off - I'm pretty sure there shouldn't be a comma after "the blond woman" and I'd prefer if the dialog was in a new paragraph. The second line is needlessly long and in either way "and other handy items" just feels sloppy. Is it important that we know she's dropping of her sunblock "and other handy items" by the pool? I'm not even going to comment on the “Cinnamon Stick, yo! Beefcake alert, your 11 o’clock.”- line and just guess that there are people out there who'd speak like that.

    Anyway - partly based on the dialog I'm guessing that I'm not the target audience. What genre is it, anyway? To me the beginning was messy and dull. I don't really get the feeling of the water park, and that'd be okay if something actually happened. To me it doesn't. I'd say that there isn't really a hook at all, at the moment.

    I'm not sure how to fix it, but I'd start with something actually happening. What? That would all depend. I can't come up with any concrete suggestions at the moment.
     
  17. RMBROWN

    RMBROWN Active Member

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    In 90 percent of my stories, the hook is the ending or the answer to the question that takes the entire chapter to ask. It lets me make bold statements that you want the answers to. If done right there is lots of reasons to continue reading.
     
  18. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Do you need a prologue? I'm not trying to start the whole prologue discussion again, but somehow this opening doesn't feel like a novel with a prologue.

    Also, I'm afraid that the hook isn't hooking me. There's a lot of detail that the reader probably isn't immediately interested in. I assume that the core is (1) woman, (2) man about to dive and (3) remark to friend.

    But the reader is unlikely to be interested in the chairs, the size of the pool, the bag or its contents, the fact that it's a play pool rather than a regular pool, the jungle gym, what the woman was going to do when she was distracted, etc. There's a lot of detail that doesn't seem to be paying its way. Also, the remark is confusing.
     
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  19. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I found this book very useful:

    Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go, by Leslie Edgerton.

    For me the best thing to do was to learn everything I could about those opening words, be it the hook or just that most important opening you need if you want an agent to read past the beginning of the book. I found the above resource was chock full of examples and useful advice.
     
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  20. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    The blonde woman, stood in her bikini among the chairs adjacent to a huge play pool.

    I would replace "the blonde woman" with the character's name, and as already mentioned remove the unneeded comma between "woman" and "stood".

    She was distracted from choosing a spot to leave her bag of sunblock bottles and other handy items, looking at a man preparing to dive from the top of a jungle-gym that rose out of the pool.

    I feel like this could be tightened up considerably. "She was looking for a spot to leave her bag, but was distracted by a man preparing to dive from the top of a jungle-gym rising from the pool."

    “Cinnamon Stick, yo! Beefcake alert, your 11 o’clock.” she spoke loud enough for her companion to hear, but not loud enough to carry.

    I'm also finding this line of dialogue somewhat off. It just doesn't ring true to me, especially if these are relatively young people. My 20 year old daughter makes fun of me constantly for continuing to use the term "yo" loooooong after it has passed its prime. "Beefcake" as well comes off as a very dated term for a contemporary young adult to use. She's home from college this week so I asked her what she'd currently use to refer to a sexy guy, and she suggested "hottie" or "hunny." Also the "she" in this sentence needs to be capitalized.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  21. Sir Robin

    Sir Robin Member

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    I'm one that likes to put my hook in the very first sentence, often without even putting it into a paragraph.

    Maybe you could start your book with " Cinnamon Stick, Yo! Beefcake alert, eleven o'clock." and then do the description of the blonde, etc, in the following paragraph. It might make the reader think, 'what does the author mean.' and read on.
     
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  22. Spacer

    Spacer Active Member

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    You can see it (three pages) at https://adobe.ly/2xykAzq if you are interested.

    So, the general (technical) idea of economy in setting the stage does not make for a good hook.

    So what kind of hook is possible that follows the event noted in the storyboard?
     
  23. Spacer

    Spacer Active Member

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    The comma was an editing error.

    The name… that’s difficult. The (real) names of the three characters are not revealed in this chapter. All they have are directed pronouns, nicknames that have already been used in dialog, or descriptions.

    That’s another issue, at least for the very beginning before the setting is clearly established. This takes place some years in the future, so today’s real terms are in fact dated. I figured a remix involving retro terms would (1) be familiar in meaning, as opposed to completely made up words; and (2) allows current terms to be mixed in without drawing attention.

    So, how would your daughter hail another person just a bit too far away to just start talking to, who’s not paying attention to you at the moment?

    (The speaker, BTW, is 26, but ahead of her age in terms of co-workers and career position. She has to boss around people older than her on a daily basis. She uses a lot of fancy words, but not when talking to this other character (who doesn’t) ).
     
  24. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    According to her she'd just say "Hey!" or "Hi!" while waving her hand back and forth, smiling and attempting to make eye contact.
     
  25. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Hey, I do that too. Maybe there's a twenty year old woman in me struggling to get out.
     
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