can write a book - but it takes something special
to create a best-seller
Lee Masterson's step-by-step guide can show you
to write and sell great short stories easily!
Lee Masterson's best-selling step-by-step guide
can show you how to turn your stories into cash!
Click Here to learn more!
How to Hook Your Reader
by Marilyn R. Henderson
In a bookstore, how do you decide which novel to buy?
Most of us look first at the title and jacket copy, then
open to the first page and read a paragraph or two. If
they don't capture our interest, we put the book back on
When you finish a novel and query agents or editors, they
are your potential buyers. They use the same method to
decide whether or not to ask you to send the rest of your
manuscript. Most request one to three chapters with the
query as a sample rather than a paragraph, but if the
opening doesn't hook them, they may not read the rest.
The opening of your novel must entice the editor or agent
to read the entire story. It should plant a seed of
suspense, set the mood, begin building dramatic tension,
and pose a question the reader wants answered.
To do this, you need to choose the right time and place
to open your story.
stories don't start at the beginning.
One of the basic rules for writing a novel is to begin as
close to the end as possible. The main reason for this is
that's where the real suspense begins. It's usually the
point in a suspense novel where story goals of the
protagonist and villain cross and put them in conflict.
Characters' backgrounds and how they reached that point
then emerge as the story unfolds.
do I begin?
You have two choices. Begin with chapter one or with a
prologue. The two are not interchangeable, however.
Opening with an interesting character doing something
dramatic is an excellent way to hook the reader. The
scene must fit in smoothly as part of the story or an
introduction to it in some way.
if it's chapter one or a prologue.
If your opening scene leads directly into the story
without a break in time, it should be chapter one.
If the opening scene helps set up the story but happens
before the actual story takes place, and the interval of
time between them isn't shown, it should be a prologue .
#1: Your story is about a young, widowed mother
who discovers an intruder in her California hillside
house when she brings her sick child home from nursery
school during a terrible rain storm.
Since you want to start with a scene that hooks the
reader, beginning with the intruder before he gets into
the house offers strong possibilities.
Through his viewpoint, you can create the impression he
has a mental problem of some kind, has trouble
remembering things and is menacing. You can also show the
ferocity of the storm as he drives up the canyon road and
runs out of gas.
When the story switches to the woman in the next chapter,
she leaves home to pick up her sick child and passes the
dark car pulled off the side of the road.
The reader already knows the man in the car is a threat
of some kind, and the heroine has just crossed his path.
The suspense is set up and the reader is eager to know
what will happen next.
#2: Your story is about a young mother who
learns the man convicted of murdering her husband five
years ago has just been released from prison on a
technicality. She is terrified he will come after her
because her testimony was the crucial evidence against
him at the trial.
Since the murder took place five years before the
jeopardy story begins, the murder would create a more
dramatic opening than introducing the woman in chapter
one. The scene about the murder would be a valid
prologue. It sets up a vital part of the background the
current story needs. It helps the reader understand why
the protagonist is so worried about the man finding her.
It also creates dramatic suspense that will build
throughout the story.
Choose where to begin your novel carefully. It can make
the difference between getting your manuscript read or
rejected. Getting it read is the first step toward
getting it published.
Copyright Marilyn R. Henderson
Marilyn Henderson chose writing as a second
career so she could work from home. She had no idea how
hard it was to make that first sale then keep selling.
Thanks to her mentor, she soon learned the difference
between writing a novel she hoped would sell and what
editors really buy. Now after more than 60 novels
published she shares her expertise in a tell-all book
that creates a blueprint to publication. Marilyn also
mentors writers and critiques manuscripts for those who
want to build careers or make those first sales.
Wanna Win - Tips for Becoming an Award-Winning
Whether you want to win writing contests or just
hone your skills, this book is for you
Ouside the Square - Writing Publishable Short
Boost Your Writing Income and get Paid to Write