Friday, April 24, 2009

Narrative Hooks

Different types of narrative hooks:
  1. The middle of a scene—when executed effectively drops the readers into a situation.
  2. A vivid glimpse of setting—a memorable picture of a place will pull readers into the narrative.
  3. A tidbit of interesting information—tell readers something they probably don’t know, and promise them that this information will be relevant to the story that follows. This kind of beginning works best when the information is both specific and arcane.
  4. A snatch of dialogue—dialogue is immediate. Stories that open with dialogue accomplish several things at once: They introduce the point-of-view character and at least one other; they create an in medias res sense that the reader has entered an ongoing scene; they suggest conflict and hint at mystery and drama; and they characterize the players by what they say and how they speak.
  5. A dramatic moment—begin at the beginning—the precise moment when the puzzle presents itself. If it happens suddenly, and if its implications are powerful, you will instantly hook your readers.
  6. An appealing narrative voice—you don’t need high drama or clever wordplay or other tricks to capture your readers’ interest. Promise them an interesting journey through the story.
William G. Tapley in The Elements of Mystery Fiction

Mr. Tapley goes on to say, "The simple job of your story’s first sentence is to persuade your readers to read the second sentence, which will lead them to the third, and so on."

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