Write Better Fiction: The Scene Hook

Today on Write Better Fiction we’ll cover The Scene Hook. Write Better Fiction is a process to help you critique your own manuscript and give yourself feedback. This will help you improve your novel, so you’re ready to submit it to an editor.

Everyone knows the cliche hook, line, and sinker. You can apply that to your scene but think of it as entry hook, development, and exit hook. You’ll need all three of these elements in every scene to create a story your readers can’t put down.

What Is A Scene Entry Hook?

Many writing books talk about the importance of the first line, first paragraph and first page of a novel. If you don’t grab the reader then, you might lose them for good. There is a lot of pressure on a writer to produce an extraordinary first line for a novel.

But as with most things, practice will make you better. So start practicing now with the first line of every scene in your novel.

The end of a scene gives the reader an opportunity to close your book an ego to sleep. They might be tired and think about putting the book on the nightstand or closing the book on their eReader. But sometimes the reader will read the first sentence of the next scene to decide whether to keep reading or not, so it better be a good sentence.

I’ll bet you’ve done that late at night when your mind wants to read but your body wants to sleep. I certainly have.

You want the reader to keep reading, or at the very least look forward to reading the following scene the next day.

How Do You Get The Reader’s Attention?

With a good hook, of course. When creating a hook, consider:

  • Starting in media res
  • Foreshadowing trouble
  • Using a strong line of dialogue
  • Raising a question
  • Not wasting words on extraneous description.

So What About Characters?

Remember from last week’s post on scene anchoring, the hook must also introduce characters.

  • Who are they (and who has POV)
  • Where they are
  • What are they doing
  • What’s the timing of the scene

Alternate Your Technique

Alternate your technique so the reader doesn’t get bored. If you don’t know what the hook is or why the reader would start reading the next scene, think about rewriting the beginning of the scene.

Sometimes you might find you’ve started the scene too early. Look at cutting the scene until something exciting is happening. If there is description you need, move it to later in the scene if you can. You might just need a little reorganizing of the scene to make the beginning sizzle.

Last week’s blog covered anchoring your scene, so don’t forget to consider how to anchor your scene in conjunction with creating a good hook.

Your challenge this week is to ask yourself what is the hook for each scene. Is it enough to keep the reader reading?

I critiqued DESCENT and BLAZE using the techniques I’m sharing in Write Better Fiction, and I believe this helped me sign with a publisher.

Please let me know in the comments below if you have any suggestions how to check whether a hook is strong enough?

Thanks for reading…


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