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#atozchallenge: H is for #Hook #fiction #writing #quotes

Theme: Quotes from Authors and Bookish People about Writing

We’re now into the second week of the challenge, and I’m moving full steam ahead on the sign-up list, trying to visit as many new blogs as I possibly can, and also trying to return all the comments I’ve received on my blog so far.  Travel has gotten in the way of things, slow internet connection etc.

How’s your A to Z Challenge shaping up? Made new friends? Found new blogs to follow?

Today on Amlokiblogs, we talk about the concept of ‘Hook.’  

A narrative hook (or hook) is a literary technique in the opening of a story that “hooks” the reader’s attention so that he or she will keep on reading. The “opening” may consist of several paragraphs for a short story, or several pages for a novel, but ideally it is the opening sentence.” ~ Wikipedia

Give your story a bit of thought before you just dash off that first
line, that first paragraph and page. Quite often I go back once I’m done
and re-read the opening line, pulling something from later in the
story, moving it up. Sometimes I rework the beginning to better
represent the actual story. Pull the reader in quickly, hint at
something more, a history or a possible future—consequences or tensions
that are mounting. If you do it well, once that hook is in, it’s hard
for the reader to slip away.”
— Richard Thomas

“If you’re bored when you
write the opening, if you fall asleep at your desk when you reread it,
and if trusted readers can’t stop yawning when they review it, what
makes you think strangers you send it to will be riveted by it?”
—  Lucia Zimmitti
“ …when writing, always hook the reader with your first sentence.”— Spider Robinson

“Surprise gets our attention by defying our expectations. We’re wired
to immediately start figuring out what’s actually going on, the better
to gauge whether we’re about to get whacked or kissed. That’s exactly how a story grabs the brain’s attention: by instantly
letting us know that all is not as it seems – yes, beginning with the
opening sentence.”
— Lisa Cron

every chapter will end with our character about to be pushed off a
cliff. But we can still have them dangling over an emotional abyss. Not
every chapter will end with a knife at the throat of our main character.
But we can put the knife in the relationship they desire. – See more


When you read a novel or short story, how important is the first page or line in hooking you in?

every chapter will end with our character about to be pushed off a
cliff. But we can still have them dangling over an emotional abyss. Not
every chapter will end with a knife at the throat of our main character.
But we can put the knife in the relationship they desire. – See more


Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • D Biswas says:

    Tom this is such a coincidence– I just went to your blog and we've used the same words for K too.

  • I used 'hook' in my 'H' post too. It's an important and integral part of both novel and short story, but surprisingly many writers don't use the technique to full effect.
    How is the challenge going. Well, I refreshed my blog in December '13 / January '14, so I lost all except three of my old contacts. I had my followers back up to about 20 when the challenge started, and it's now at 58 … and counting.
    My greatest task isn't writing the posts, it's getting to all the commentators, and commenting myself.

  • Ananya Tales says:

    Thanks for all inputs, love to read what you write !

  • Eli Z says:

    Oh yes – the hook to get the reader hooked and longing for more:-) To me it is important, and I like to open an article or a book and just be dragged into the story within the first few words:-) Thanks for good tips and reminders- 🙂 Superb:-)

  • First lines are so important, but I tend to struggle with them. They're so hard to get right! But they can do wonders when you do.

  • Thanks for the reminders about openings. And I feel your pain. I am trying to make my way through the linky list for A to Z, but haven't yet scratched the surface. Of course, maybe I shouldn't have skipped around . . .

  • pouiseason says:

    This is so true – especially the bit about grabbing not merely your friends but that stranger. I wonder about it, not only during the initials – but I find myself asking that question throughout the process… "What's on this page that is interesting to a reader?"

    Thanks for the reminder!!! 🙂

  • klahanie says:

    Hi human, Damyanti,

    Aha and you really reeled me in with this pawsting. I shall let you off the hook in regards to the A to Z. Please remember that not everybody or every animal is involved. Thank you 🙂

    If the first sentence in a story doesn't capture my attention, there's a good chance I wont bother to read any further.

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar!

  • Most of the time I prefer a quick hook, but I'm open to a slow build up if the synopsis sounds interesting enough. I've noticed that some genre authors try too hard though.. go for the shock value. Sometimes it works; sometimes it's off-putting because it is so obvious.

  • If the story is by an unknown author, the hook must come in early enough. If it's by an author I'm a fan of, the hook can come in a bit later.

    You've put into words something I've been doing since I started blogging last year, after about 20 years of only business correspondence, no general writing. I would write a blog post, then read it after at least half a day. Often, I would find that I wasn't hooked! After repeating the process a number of times until I found that I was hooked, I would get a couple of people to read and give me their feedback. It took me a few months to be satisfied with my ability to 'hook'.

  • If a book cover or title intrigues me, I then read the first sentence. I put it down if there's no instant click for me.

    The View from the Top of the Ladder

  • This is such good advice. First drafts are rarely ready to be published. Reworking things takes time, but it is definitely worth the effort. It's also a good idea to let a story sit for a while, perhaps a day or so, and then go back to it to revise it if necessary. It's amazing how much better our writing gets, when we take the time to get it just right.

    M. J.
    A – Z Co-Host

  • Reel them in with the first sentence, or a tad bit more to build up the intrigue. The quicker the better to grab their attention. The quotes are really good.

  • That first line drives me crazy. I'll rewrite mine a dozen times trying to find the best one.

  • Thanks for the inputs. It's a beautiful post. Killer:)

  • shelly says:

    Yup. I need to revise my book in Killer Stilettos.

    Hugs and chocolate!

  • The hook is so damn difficult. Hours and hours to find the right opening – hooks are hell 🙂
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles – A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX – A to Z Drabblerotic

  • Chrys Fey says:

    The hook of a story is so important. With just one sentence, one paragraph, one page you have to be able to capture your reader's attention. All writers she work hard (and think hard) on the beginnings of their stories. 🙂

  • I love pondering the hook of the opening line. Writers agonize and obsesses over the beginning of their stories. But if you can nail that opening line, paragraph and chapter, the rest should be easy!

  • cleemckenzie says:

    I love to write engaging hooks because they make me want to keep writing. I'm willing to give time to book that starts slowly as long as the prose is good. Lacking that, I must have something to pull me into the story.

  • I have read books that haven't hooked me on the first page. What kept me reading was I really wanted to know the story. So hook, I think, are important, but even if the first page doesn't grab the reader, if they are curious enough about the story I bet they will keep reading.

    ~Patricia Lynne~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, YA Author