Six tips for engaging readers within two seconds: The Hook in fiction and memoir

Kobo Writing Life

By Paula Berinstein

We all know that if we don’t capture reader attention within a few seconds, we might as well kiss the sale of our work goodbye. That’s why, unless you’re Terry Pratchett (Discworld) or Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games), you need a real grabber to open your story.

The secret to writing great hooks is to infuse them with possibility and add a dash of spice. Here are six tips to help you engage readers in just one sentence.

Techniques for writing great hooks

  1. Foreshadow. Imply that a change is coming.
  2. Raise questions in the reader’s mind. Your first few sentences should cause us to ask questions. What is going on here? How did he get into that situation? Give us enough answers to keep us from getting lost, but keep us guessing.
  3. Start in medias res (in the middle of things). Jump right…

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