Nov 4, 2012

Hook, Line, and Sinker

Originally posted in August.     

      Great. I had this photo I was going to put here, but what do you know? It's been so long since I've tried blogging that  it's giving me a pain. Maybe I'll get that on the next post.

      Now, I know that you've got to be wondering what on earth this blog's about. Well, as I alluded to in the title, this is about hooks. If you haven't gotten to this post via the writing tab on my not-so-fancy sidebar that I will figure out how to work and make utterly awesome one of these days, this has nothing to do with fishing. Far from it. Closest I've gotten to that has been "fishing" for minnows with butterfly nets (I don't know why  my friends and I found that so interesting) or standing next to people who actually were.

      When I say hooks, what do I mean? I'm sure most of you know already, but I needed something to start with here and that's what came to mind. It's only 8:33 over here right now. It's summer--I sleep in and I'm not really a morning person. A hook is what draws a reader into a story. Pull one of your favorite books off the shelf. Open the first page. What pulls you right in? What gets you hooked?

      Following my own advice, I'll pull a few things off my shelf.

      First up, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan:

      - Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood.

      I'm glad I made this my first choice. Pulls me in with one sentence. It makes us ask the question, "What's a half-blood?" Considering you haven't previously read the back of the book or seen the movie, you have no idea what you're getting into. Second, if you're life me, any word similar to "half-blood" will get you excited. It already lets me know the character's most likely not completely human. That almost always thrills me. Call me crazy--but that's how it always is.

      Second, I'm grabbing Inkheart by Cornelia Funke:

      - Rain fell that night, a fine, whispering rain. Many years later, Meggie had only to close her eyes and she could still here it, like tiny fingers tapping on the windowpane. A dog barked somewhere in the darkness, and however often she tossed and turned Meggie coudln't get to sleep.

      Okay, so, honestly, this doesn't grab me as much. I'm not seeing any hints of being inhuman or special. Alright, alright, not every book needs that. I'm just fooling around. This book was great! And, the first three sentences, while not as awesome as the one from Percy Jackson (I'm a fan, alright?), still make you pause and ask questions. Why would this night stay in her memory many years later? What happened to make it so memorable? Or what is going to happen? That, and she can't sleep. Don't we all know that all those minor details could be of big importance in a story? Is there a reason she can't sleep?

      I'll mix it up a bit for the next one and grab a historical fiction book. The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig:

      - The flatness of this land was awesome. There wasn't a hill in sight; it was an enormous, unrippled sea of parched and lifeless grass.

      This makes us think a few things about the main character's situation. It's obvious that she's new to wherever this is. How did she get here? Did she move? Was she kidnapped? And second, why was she  here? Why was she in this dead and lifeless wilderness?

      This can even apply to nonfiction. I'm going to take an article I read in a school newspaper awhile back about stuttering. The Life of A Stutterer by Priscilla Gonzalez:
      - My stomach tightens, my eyes close, my irritation shows through the tapping of a foot; a nod of the head, a wave of the hand – anything I can possible do to get this word out. After I say my sentence, I feel embarrassed. That one thought wasn’t worth that much work to express – so why even share the thought?

      That wasn't even the entire first paragraph and we're drawn right into what she's trying to tell us. We feel her pain. We want to read more. Within three sentences, we're emotionally attatched to this girl and what she's trying to get out. 

      Another article, The Incredible View Above by Courtney E. Carter hooks us as well:

      - On June 4, 2011, several Facebook statuses and Twitter updates were written about the incredible sight above. While the rest of the Floridian summer sky looked normal, sunny with cumulus clouds, one area caught everyone’s attention. The sun and the ring around it peaked much interest.

       What was so interesting about the sun that day? What's the ring around it? 

      But most importantly, do you hook your  readers?


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