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Hook me or I'm leaving (writing good openings)

I just started listening to a podcast of spooky stories...and turned to something else after about three minutes. Why? Because the opening was full of general information that didn't feel like it was going anywhere. Neither was there foreshadowing of anything scary or mysterious.

The narrator started with some descriptions of how he had a Normal childhood, then told how his father arranged for him to go to college on a scholarship that required him to work for the school. Then he described the jobs he had to do, still in general terms....



The lesson is that unless you hook us with something specific, we're likely to wander off pretty quickly. 

I don't know what happens in the story after the point at which I left, but let's assume that he encounters a ghost. Here's a quick example of how the author could have grabbed the reader's attention more quickly:

"I guess it was the fact that my childhood was so normal that made it hard for me to comprehend what happened later. I grew up...(Now I'm willing to hear about his Normal Childhood for a bit, thanks to the promise that it's leading up to whatever happened later that would be outside the realm of "normal.")

Or it could have been something specific about his childhood:

"When I was a kid, my parents taught me and my brothers not to believe in superstitions. If anybody mentioned ghosts, my parents laughed and assured us that there was no such thing." (He doesn't have to say any more, we already expect that later in the story his parents will be proved wrong.)

A small detail or a bit of foreshadowing goes a long way--and keeps us reading.

[For useful information on writing your book, from idea through to publication, get a copy of my book, Your Writing Coach, published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon or your other favorite bookseller.)

This post first appeared on Time To Write, please read the originial post: here

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Hook me or I'm leaving (writing good openings)


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