GIVE ME SOME SHOPPING MONEY GIVEAWAY!
If you missed it last week all this month I’m teaming up with some author friends of mine and we’re giving away signed books and $100 EVERY WEEK! Congrats to last week’s winner, who will be notified by email.
If you missed last week and you’re an author, you also missed a craft post. It’s about writing heroes, so if you’re into that you can go check it out here.
My next group of favorite author friends are:
Meli Raine, JJ Knight, Cassia Leo, Lynn Raye Harris, and Ember Casey!
Enter via the Rafflecopter below.
And… because I’m trying to be productive with each post, I’m going to have Author Tip Post for all my author followers too. Last time I posted it was about writing heroes and you can read that here.
This week my author post is about WRITING HOOKS!
Hooks can come on the first page, in the first chapter, or any time before the first major plot point at 25%. But the best hooks grab you sooner rather than later. You don’t have to be in-your-face with the hook. You can set the stage a little, but if you can get the whole plot set up in Chapter One, you’ve done a good thing.
A hook captures your reader’s attention and makes them think, “Hey. I know what this book is about and I’m interested.”
In The Hunger Games we figure out really quick that Katniss lives in a horrible place called District 12 and there’s this thing called the reaping which will take two kids away from home as “tribute” to the capitol and the families left behind will endure “painful weeks to come”. We also learn that the two major characters we just met have a pretty big chance of being those two kids. It’s also explained how some kids have a small chance of being chosen, Katniss’ sister being one of them. Which is crucial for the first big twist in the story that comes at the end of chapter one.
Hmmm… intriguing. If you like that kind of book. And I do. So I read on and hey, most of the world who gave the book a try must’ve read on at least a little bit, because we all know what happened to the kids in the Hunger games because they made it into a movie.
By the end of chapter one we are given the first major surprise. Katniss’s sister’s name was chosen even though the odds were in her favor.
I mean.. hello story, right? Such a great hook.
Now the first thing I’d like to point out about the hook in The Hunger Games is that it’s not the first line of chapter one. It’s the last. I looked up “Great hooks” online and you know what I found? Lots and lots of search results for “Great first lines in books”.
No. That’s not what a hook is. IT CAN BE. But that’s not the definition of a hook. A hook, like I said, just needs to grab your reader’s attention, set up the story, and happen before the first plot point at 25%. It’s pretty hard to hold back a hook that long if you ask me because then your hook turns into the first plot point. Which means you don’t have a hook, you have a first plot point. Which is more like an inciting incident that changes the story from one direction into another.
The first plot point for The Hunger games had nothing to do with the games, it’s the point in the book where Katniss learns that she has to play a “game” other than the Hunger Games called – “be a fictional love interest to Peeta to gain the support of the fans.” They have to depend on each other to live.
So be clear about your hook and don’t mess it up with the first plot point.
Another great hook is the opening scene of A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of thrones Book One). The TV series actually did this book scene pretty much word for word. I remember this because I had never heard of A Song of Ice and Fire before I saw that first episode but I promptly went online and bought the book before the show was even over and I was a little stunned that they chose to shoot the scene exactly as it was written because that almost never happens.
Let me refresh your memory – The scene opens in a winter forest, men on horseback, biter cold, lots of snow, up North, something about hunting and a wall… and then you see a whole group of creepy slaughtered people. The hook is not Robert Baratheon recruiting Ned Stark to be his “hand”. It’s this scene telling us something bad is in the snowy woods. And if you’re a regular watcher of TGOT, then you know that the upcoming final battle has nothing to do with Robert and everything to do with all the bad things happening up North. For sure Robert asking Ned to come be his hand is an inciting incident, but it’s not the hook.
Which brings me to another point. All great books tie the ending back to the hook. I’ve said this before in other posts and I can’t stress it enough. Setting up your hook to reveal the ending is what makes some books better than others. I’m not saying you’ll sell more books this way, I’m just saying this is good storytelling.
Point above with the nightwalkers and the Night’s Watch, those men on horseback, right? We are about to get the final season (and yeah, I know, George RR Martin didn’t write this, the TV writers did) we’re done with the politics and the struggle. We’re only waiting for that final battle with the insane dead people up in the North. Which was the prologue of book one. Which was the hook. We’re finally getting that one, last elusive question answered. Will the dead defeat the living?
You might be asking, well, how does Hunger Games fit into that? In the beginning of Book One Katniss is all about Gale. But by the end of book one she realizes this fantasy she has of her and Gale is impossible. And if you read all the way through the series, you know Gale has no place in her life at the end of the series either.
So both Collins and Martin (well, Martin’s TV writers) both brought their series around in a circle. And circles matter in both a single book and in a series. You always want to bring it back around because if you can’t—if there’s no way to tie chapter beginning to chapter end—then you missed something in your story.
DID YOU SEE MY NEWEST PRE-ORDER?
CHECK IT OUT BELOW AND ENTER MY $50 RAFFLECOPTER WHILE YOU’RE HERE!
They said write what you know so that’s what I did. I wrote dirty, I wrote erotic, I wrote the truth.
And then they called me a liar. But it’s not me who’s lying, it’s them.
Our story isn’t for everyone. It’s not even for us. So if you’re looking for the fairy tale and the stupid prince on his dumb white horse, move along. You’ve got a hold of the wrong book. This is not your story, this is not your life, and this is not your opportunity to dip your frightened little toe into the dark pool of water and “try new things” and then pull it out and decide… #NotForMe.
When you go in with us you go all in. So make a decision before you turn this page.
Because I’m making one promise with this book.
We are The Dirty Ones and this is our truth.
The Dirty Ones is a brand new dark romance about the secret world of erotica authors releasing December 4, 2018.More info →
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OK, that’s it for today. I’m gonna go take my own hook advice now and get back to writing. I will have another author tip post next Monday with a brand new $100 (every week this month!) so make sure you don’t miss anything by filling in the “Follow This Blog” form below.