Excerpt From 'Write That Book - Helpful Ramblings Of A Self-Published Author'-Hook, Line, and Sinker
Many readers will put down a book if it doesn’t grab their attention in the first few lines. The first few lines are crucial. Only give your reader important information vital to the story line. A fisherman won’t catch anything without a hook. You need to hook your reader from the very beginning. Essentially it’s like meeting someone new. You need to make a good first impression.
You may choose to introduce your main character here, but avoid introducing too many others at this point. Another character you could introduce here is your antagonist to create some conflict. Don’t bombard your reader with too many names from the get go.
Begin at a pivotal moment and make your reader wonder what will happen next. Make them think, what will happen? What do those lines mean? Let’s look at a couple of examples from well-known novels;
‘They’re out there. Black boys in white suits up before me to commit sex acts in the hall and get it mopped up before I can catch them’. Opening lines from ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ by Ken Kesey.
‘Where’s Papa going with that ax? Said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for Breakfast’ Opening lines from ‘Charlotte’s Web’ by E.B. White.
You can see how the author has hooked the reader in with their opening. Both openings pose questions and make the reader want to keep reading to find out what happens. Who are the black boys in white suits? Why does he have an ax?
Make an event unusual to the reader. A great example is the opening line from George Orwell’s classic novel tilted ‘1984’. The book opens with, ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen’. Wait, what? Thirteen? For the characters in this novel, this is an everyday event, but for the reader it is not. The reader thinks, what the hell? Prompting them to read on.
Shock your reader with a bold and confronting statement. An example of this is ‘I’m pretty much fucked’, the opening line form Martian by Andy Weir.
If you start with a bold statement, an intriguing question, important information, an engaging character, or unusual situation, you will entice your reader to delve into your story.