Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How To Hook Your Readers

Have you ever read a book that seemed to take forever to get to the exciting part? You read a few pages of dry prose and think, "Okay, it'll get better in the next few pages." You continue reading through the first chapter and you presume the worst is over and things will really start to heat up. Before you know it, you're midway through the book; it pains you to keep reading, but you've come this far already, yet still there's no action, no key points, no drama, no ... nothing.

It takes skill to start off a book in a way that will keep readers interested. Oftentimes, writing the beginning of your book is the most difficult part of the process. You want to hook your readers with the very first sentence, draw them in with the first paragraph, and cause them to turn each page hungry for more of your story. Your opening is key, so take your time to develop it. You can hook your readers in the first paragraph with a comedic, dramatic, or tragic story.

As you develop your content and your writing skill, master the art of storytelling and use this to hook your readers, and to keep them hooked throughout your book. How do you do that? One way is to get down to the least common denominator; in other words ... get to the point. What is the main thing you're writing about in this scene, this section, this chapter? Define that, and then work backwards from there. For example, if chapter one of your book explains how you began what would become an outrageously successful career as a sports agent, you could hook readers a few ways:

  • Tell a story about one of the biggest successes you've had in your career.
  • Describe one of the greatest failures you've experienced and what you learned from it.
  • Explain how an early nemesis suggested that you'd never succeed in the business and how that motivated you to continue.
  • Set the scene for the day you made the decision to become a sports agent.
With your main point defined and the basic story for your opening chosen, it's time to hang out your hook. Set the scene, introduce characters, develop believable dialogue, give examples, and wrap it up to prepare for the next chapter. In the beginning, don't get caught in the technical aspects of writing; those can be incorporated later. Of course, you will want to use proper grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation. However, allow yourself the freedom of freestyle writing when you begin. In this way, you release the pressure to write in a literary manner, and instead, just be yourself. You are a storyteller, so tap into that part of yourself. 

If you find that you're having difficulty explaining concepts or describing scenes, people, or conversations in writing, record yourself describing them verbally. After you have transcribed the recording word for word, go through the transcript correcting and clarifying where needed. During the process, you can add your literary style, always keeping your readers in mind.

Want to learn more about hooking your readers? Sign up for my free teleseminar, Wednesday, August 31st at 8:00 p.m. EST

My special guest and I will review:
- How to create attention-grabbing openings for your book.
- Why knowing where you want to end up is a key strategy for starting well.
- When to use flashback in the opening of your book.
- What your readers want from you as an author.

Click here to register. Simply state "Hook My Readers" in the email.

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