Re: Looking for a Few Good (or Bad!) Hooks

I'm teaching a class* on hooking your audience tomorrow for my workshop. I usually have examples for the students to analyze and possibly rework. It's also the first of my lectures for the semester and I'll be telling them about Royal Road, too. 

If anyone wants to offer up their work for sacrifice charity, I'll take up to three of your hooks and we'll see what we have time for. If they have anything I consider an improvement I'll pass it back on. So if you're particularly proud of a hook (at the beginning or even the middle of a book), or you have one you don't like but want to make better, I'd be interested in looking at it.

(* Note: it's not a credited course. I'm a guest lecturer, not a professor. Just adding that because it's caused problems before elsewhere.) 

Re: Looking for a Few Good (or Bad!) Hooks

Interesting. My hooks are fairly generic ones for LitRPG or isekai, but I'll share them.

Quote:In a realm conquered by demons, an old sorceress manages to perform a ritual that sends her knowledge and memories back in time to her 16-year-old self. The demon's invasion has just begun but she is a relatively unknown magical acolyte and must use her knowledge covertly as she knows some of the most powerful people in the realm, including members of her own order, have turned traitor.

- This is for Unto the Breach, my most popular story with 3k followers. It reached rank 60 on Best Rated.

Quote:After being diagnosed with a rare brain parasite, Christine agrees to a radical and intensive treatment. While the doctors remove her infected neural tissue and attempt to regrow it, her consciousness is placed in Penumbra, a simulated fantasy world intended to amuse and relax her. As soon as she enters, things go wrong. Christine loses contact with the outside world and encounters doppelgangers of herself who attempt to hunt her down.

- This is for Quietus, one of my least popular stories with only 200 followers. It got good ratings but horror is a difficult sell on RR.

Re: Looking for a Few Good (or Bad!) Hooks

If there's anything I have, it's lots of openings!! Not sure if you wanted a one-liner or a short opening passage. Feel free to trim and use/not use any of these.
Takeover Wrote: Alien abduction was decidedly not a good birthday present, Elena decided as she and three other humans abruptly found themself in a dim prison. Vertical glowing bars surrounded them in a circle, all very sci-fi like. Squinting past the bars, she could make out inhuman faces peering inward from beyond.
The Mage Tree Wrote: No experience could have prepared Zhyuni for a man stepping from within a tree, colors shifting from wooden browns to something humanoid. The man, an elf, sheathed the sword held high in his hand. His cool gray gaze swept the area before settling on her.

"Ezhinezha," he greeted with a bow.
Sadly, that line had to be relegated to a page and a half away from the beginning. I didn't want to skip over the events leading up to it, but I'm not sure I want to fiddle with flashbacks. Here's what I currently have for the same story, if you're interested in comparing:
Spoiler :

The Wrote: I should feel happy.

The thought rattled around in Ezhinezha Zhyuni Azhutha's mind as she thanked guests with a smile. Her wedding was something many had thought they would never see, as several indicated to her or another with varying levels of subtlety and kindness. Several girls younger than her swooned over Ikuran and commented how lucky she was.
The Gods Above Wrote: Darkness. Silence. Cold.

Zhira desperately clawed for the surface of the mire she found herself in. Sound, metal and explosions, crashed in on her as mud squished between her fingers, light piercing her eyes. Heaving in a great breath, she tried to make out her surroundings and get to her knees.

Mud splattered on her face as someone ran past. Zhira flinched, falling to the side as the clang of metal rang in her ears. Her hand landed on a warm body.

A headless body.
This one could probs use improvement. It's meant to be disorientating--because she's unknowingly dead, and when you first appear in this realm your default form is that of a small globe, and also she's woken up in the middle of a battlefield--but also it might be too disorientating, and a little long to get to the horror of what she's woken up to.

Re: Looking for a Few Good (or Bad!) Hooks

A hook is anything from a sentence or two, to a paragraph or so, added to the start of a book to entice a reader to involve himself /herself in the story. - Turn the page.   It evokes curiosity, asks to be solved in the reader's mind.  In short, requires the reader to read further, and may evoke in a dynamic way, the problem the novel wants the reader to see resolved.  It should also engender the tenor of the work. 

Throughout a novel, the author wants to encourage  page turning, and moving forward to find solutions, but the leading hook is perhaps the most important, as the reader is not yet invested in the plot, and has not yet acquired some affiliation with the characters or situation. If the work seems dull or lackluster right from the start, or wants the reader to take a quick course in the story's world build, the reader is likely to put the work aside as an amateur effort or not entertaining. 

So the lead hook is important, and can make or break a work.  In other  terms of explanation,  it is often advised to always begin the work in the middle of something - something exciting. Once upon a time , or a history lesson, does not do this. Thus the hook.

Sure, you can use the opening from any story of mine for educational  purposes,  and in fact, legally need not even ask .

Re: Looking for a Few Good (or Bad!) Hooks


ArDeeBurger Wrote:
SJ Wrote: I get the feeling that 'hook' means different things to different posters.
Yes. That is exactly right. Which is why I asked our Dear Ninja to tell us want he needs.
Ah, but that's precisely why I didn't define it in particular, other than not wanting one from the end of a book. Ending hooks usually have too much investment in the story. 

A hook can be an opener, a cliffhanger, a twist, or anything that grabs attention and keeps you reading. 

Re: Looking for a Few Good (or Bad!) Hooks


NovelNinja Wrote: Ah, but that's precisely why I didn't define it in particular, other than not wanting one from the end of a book. Ending hooks usually have too much investment in the story.
Ah to you too, you cheeky monkey. 🐵

I suppose I should at least take solace in knowing that a hook in a story could be almost anything. The most generic definition I can think of is that it makes the reader ask a question that they want to have answered. A good hook will create a question that does not have a Yes or No answer, typically a What? or a How?

What is going on here?
How will this be resolved?

A good hook often involves a twist, making the reader say, 'I didn't see that coming!'

I suppose I should state that a hook can be one line, one paragraph, one scene or an entire chapter. And therein lies the nut of my question to you Dear Mr. Ninja -- how long of a hook do you want from us? One line seems very short, but most apt, one chapter seems very long.

Re: Looking for a Few Good (or Bad!) Hooks


Quote:The human brain is basically three pounds of tapioca pudding strapped in a dark room, forced to play a game its entire existence. The human mind is a very detailed hallucination the brain comes up while piloting a bioelectric suit all day. Even with the ability to plunge the human mind into a virtual existence, the ‘deep dive,’ we’re yet unsure of how the pudding comes up with its concept of self.

I am a hallucination named Christine Valcruz. My bowl of tapioca pudding is damaged; a rare parasite—Toxoplasma sombosis—got into it and is mucking about in there. I spent three years being treated for schizophrenia before they discovered the brain infection. I am one of only fifty people in the world who’s been diagnosed, though more and more psychiatric patients are being tested.

Right now, I am thinking about pudding and hallucinations and parasites slipping into my brain’s dark room while I read and sign an extensive number of forms. The very expensive and impressive clinic where I’ll be spending the next three months is covering its ass.

In layman’s terms, they’re going to suck my consciousness into a game, cut away the infected bits of my brain, try to purge my system of any residue, grow back my brain bits, and then shove my consciousnesses back inside its pudding bowl.

If its not obvious, this is experimental. They can’t even tell me their survival rate with humans, only baboons and chimps.

Fun times. Fun times.

-- Quietus

Quote:Jannah stood in her doorway, looking out at the street with apprehension. The sky was a bleak and flat gray, and the cold wind stung her cheeks. She shivered in her bright yellow and orange Shakka Town uniform. It was 10:15 am and Jannah had work at 10:30. Her runty, two-door car was hunkered in the driveway waiting for her. Last night's rain had dirtied windows and hunter green paint.

If Jannah hopped in it now and burnt rubber, she would only be a few minutes late to work. She could hear the rush of traffic along the main street from her porch. It was a soft and lulling sound. Some nights, Jannah would crack open her window and listen as she fell asleep.
With a sigh, Jannah turned back into her home and shut the door.

Her shoulders sagged as she pulled off the uniform and changed back into her pajamas. There was something wrong with Jannah. When she looked outside her door, she didn't see her friendly neighborhood but the great maw of the world threatening to devour her. Even heading to the grocery store was a struggle some days.

How much better to stay home. How much sweeter to curl into the warm and soft embrace of her bed.

So that is exactly what she did. Not even Jannah's shame and worries could chase her under the covers into the realm of sleep. In minutes, her eyes were shut, and she dozed for hours.

-- Silverglade

I guess these are my hooks then? They're the opening paragraphs to two of my stories.

Re: Looking for a Few Good (or Bad!) Hooks


ArDeeBurger Wrote: Ah to you too, you cheeky monkey. 🐵

Interestingly, the characters for 'ninja' can supposedly be read as 'monkey.' Can't confirm that myself, but I do enjoy bananas.

Quote:And therein lies the nut of my question to you Dear Mr. Ninja -- how long of a hook do you want from us? One line seems very short, but most apt, one chapter seems very long.
If I can't put it up on one screen, it's too long to use. But, point of interest, hooks are stronger when more succinct. I wouldn't call a chapter a hook unless the story is a similar scale (like "this is the chapter that makes you read the next three books," perhaps).

Re: Looking for a Few Good (or Bad!) Hooks

Okay! So here is a hook of the nature that you suggest -- where the intent is to get the reader to read the next book in the series -- since many of our fellow RRers have already graciously offered Opening Lines or Synopses.

It is from my series of Light Novels called DOTS, which I am currently posting on Royal Road. It comes at the end of the fifth book of the series, The Book of PATIENCE, hooking the reader by leading them into reading the sixth book, The Book of CHASTITY

Since The Book of PATIENCE is in the middle of the series, and the hook I am offering comes at the end of this book, here is a bit of set-up.

Hank is the MC of the series, tasked unwillingly with saving the world somehow from bad guys who are winning a secret war against those who are good. Think along the lines of Harry Potter's role and the fate of muggles in the Wizard War. On Hank's side is a woman named Rio, the only good person waging war against the bad guys. She has pretty much given up, finding Hank to be too mousy to be of any use. Immediately prior to this scene, Hank has narrowly avoided getting hit in the head by a jet airplane the bad guys tried dropping on him -- one that he has now determined Rio had bought a ticket for. Finally, Leanne is Rio's girlfriend, on business far away in Zurich, who knows nothing about the secret war Rio has been fighting.

And... scene:

     Leanne switched into counselor mode. She leaned in and spoke firmly.
     "Listen to me, Hank, and don’t be scared. Everything will be all right. We don't know what happened, so stay calm until we learn more. You’ll find what we need at the airport, so go there and report back to me.”
     Hank breathed hard to calm himself. “Okay.”
     "Get a hold of Anna, and Aika, too. You said Aika knew this would happen.”
     "It’s like she predicted it.”
     "Whatever. The world is going to shit, starting with that stupid truck that almost killed me.”
     "I know.”
     "Find out what happened to Rio. I’m depending on you.”
     "I know. Please hurry home. We miss you very much.”
     "Okay. I love you, and miss you guys too.”
     Hank signed off and poked around Leanne’s room until he found her address book. Sitting with it on the sofa, he copied the information about Rio onto a pad of paper, to help with remembering it. The television reported on where family members could gather, and he wrote that down too.
     Sitting on a shelf above the television were photos in picture frames. Hank picked up a snapshot where Rio and Leanne were mugging for the camera. They appeared to be enjoying a holiday at sea.
     Hank’s heart leapt for the women. He clutched the photo as a tear left his eye. Rio looked so happy. She was wearing fun clothes and laughing fully, as both girls held silly drinks.
     "Please don’t be dead,” Hank begged the little Asian woman in the photo. “I’m sorry. I want to be with you.”
     Hank loved up Bumbles a bit, and told him to guard the flat. “You stay here. I’m going to bring Rio home.”
     Oh God, at least I hope so.
     Hank gathered up his information, Leanne’s laptop, and the photo of Rio, putting them by the front door. He found a spare key to the apartment and put that there too. Before heading off to find clothes to wear, Bumbles yipped and ran in circles, wanting the front door to be opened.
     "Stay here,” Hank said again.
     Then Hank heard the sounds the dog had heard first. He placed his ear on the door. Someone was definitely out there.
     He heard a familiar sniffle and flung the door wide open. Broken and sobbing, wearing a long gray business jacket over a short pleated skirt, Rio was crying so hard that she couldn’t work the lock to her apartment. A carry-on bag across her shoulder to seemed ready to drag her down. When she saw Hank in Leanne’s big white bathrobe, merely standing and staring at her, laughter mixed with her rain of tears and wracked her entire body.
     Hank caught her as she crumbled to dust and pulled her into his arms.

Here is a hook of a different sort, the kind that comes in the middle. This is from my story called QueerSpace, a Space Western comedy full of Furries. Technically speaking, in this story Mankind has learned how to insert animal genes into humans. People can change their appearance this way, much like how nowadays people get tattoos or piercings. Maybell is the MC of this story, a completely normal human being who dislikes the fact that she likes having sex with Genetics -- the derogatory term used in the story to describe Furries. Maybell and her new friend -- a bat girl named Wolfe -- have concocted a plan that the reader does not yet know about, to save Maybell's boyfriend -- a hyena named Heinemann -- from being arrested for manslaughter. It involves Wolfe's brand new boyfriend -- a hare named Bad Bunny -- and Maybell's former lover -- a horse named Sara Jane, who is also the owner of the spaceship they all live on.

And... scene:

     Sara Jane shook out her mane. "Somebody better fess up, or I'm gonna start knocking heads."
     Wolfe took a sudden step backwards, as if to fly from the room. "Me, Miss Jane! It was me!"
     Sara Jane stood up and approached. Wolfe seemed ready to die. 
     "Why don't you tell me how you got into my quarters and fridge? Both have security locks." Wolfe only squeaked and chirped, as Sara Jane continued. "Maybell gave you the codes. Didn't she?" 
     "Ah... no," Maybell said. "I didn't."
     Wolfe nearly had a heart attack. “Back off a bit," Maybell begged. "Your scaring the shit out of her." 
     "Good," Sara Jane said. She took a big step towards Maybell. "And now, how about you?"
     Maybell began stammering, her voice squeaking like Wolfe’s. "Ah... Y-yeah. You're kinda scaring me too."
     "I want an answer," Sara Jane said. "Who the hell has my carrots?" 
     "Bait!" Wolfe blurted. "I needed bait! Right, Maybell? You need bait?"
     Maybell cocked her head. "You can't argue that," she concurred.
     "That still doesn't tell me how you got through two locked doors," Sara Jane said to Wolfe.
     Wolfe resumed squeaking and chirping, so Maybell gave a good guess. "For crissake, Sara. Look at her. She's got ears like two megaphones. She probably heard you key in the codes from six bulkheads away." 
     "Wolfe?" Sara Jane asked, to confirm it. 
     "Yes, Miss Jane! Yes! Maybell's right! But you need bait, right Miss Jane, to catch bad guys? To make them do want you want?" 
     Sara Jane moved in close, to put a reassuring hand on Wolfe's shoulder, but the little bat girl scurried away. "It will work," Wolfe cried out as she ran down the corridor. "I swear we'll get Mr. Heinemann back!"
     Sara Jane stood with her hands on her hips, watching Wolfe disappear. "You really are scary when you're angry," Maybell said, approaching Sara Jane from behind. 
     "Yeah," Sara Jane huffed as she returned to her captain's chair. 
     "I'm serious. I don't remember you being like this when we used to be mates." 
     "Well, get used to it now, because I got a ship to run. Your ten minutes are up, so gimme back my helm." 
     Maybell quietly unlocked Sara Jane's console. 
     "And tell that damn Bunny to get up here. We are gonna have words." 
     "Aye aye, Captain," Maybell said, making a hasty exit herself.

Oh gosh. I love writing that story. So here is a more traditional hook, the kind that begins a novel. It is called MONSTER with a subtitle of The Story of Rick and Robin. It's a traditional Love Story, where an older man with a shady past secretly pines for a young gold-digger he sees often at the coffee shop they both frequent.

     So anyway...weird day. For some people, I mean. As I was walking down the street, out the corner of my eye I saw a pretty girl approaching me.
     She said, "I've never seen a man who looked so all alone. Could you use some company?"
     I didn't say anything, so she continued. "Your evening will be nice if you pay the right price. And when you're done, send me on my way."
     That brought words to mind. "You're such a sweet young thing. Why do this to yourself?"
     She looked at me and said, "Money don't grow on trees."
     "Hmm. That’s true,” I replied. “But a coffee at The Mug is free."
     Then I had to look down at my feet because I'm so fucking shy.
     "I got bills to pay," she replied.
     "It's cold out here, and it's just a coffee."
     With a huff, she said, "Okay."
     As mugs steamed between our hands, I told her what happened.

So there you go, Dear Mr. Ninja. Here is a banana! 🍌

Re: Looking for a Few Good (or Bad!) Hooks

#15 Everybody Loves Large Chests has a really good one. The opening chapter is written from the POV of an adventurer, that at the end of the chapter suddenly gets eaten by a Mimic in the form of a chest. The reader's expectations are completely subverted, because the "Large Chests" from the title was actually referring to a literal, wooden chest, who will be our protagonist. The blurb barely even hints at this, and is written to (at first) sound like this adventurer was the main character. The cover also features a very distracting, scantily clad sorceress (sitting on top of a wooden chest!). It's pretty ingenious, all-in-all. Thiefdom has a pretty good one in chapter two, the image of a security guard's eyes rolling around on the floor, and him turning into an eldritch abomination whose mouth extends into a huge maw, is a very striking one. And then the next chapter we're met with a very interesting, ancient talking-box character. That was enough to motivate me to keep reading, their back-and-forward was very fun, if not even funny. How to avoid death on a daily basis had a pretty strong opening. "The girls started screaming. Some of the boys joined them. One of those boys might have been me." A very large group of teenagers gets suddenly transported to a different world, in nothing but their pajamas. Our main character has a panic/asthma attack, almost suffocating. And then a huge ogre attacks. The series was later carried by me really, really liking the sarcastic, angsty and pragmatic main character. And also Biadette, Lainey and Flossie, side-characters who I quickly grew to like alot. So yeah, likeable characters can be a good hook; you keep wanting to read just to see more of them. Can't be compared to the likes of Ron/Hermione, I don't think anyone's ever thought "Ohh, I can't wait until we get to see Ron again..." while reading Harry Potter. I'm talking, more in the lines of Luna. Eccentric, interesting and exciting! Wildbow's Pact serial also had a very, very strong ending of Chapter 1. After a series of weird visions, our main character goes to wash his face in the bathroom, and this scene unfolds: (at this point the reader knows who Molly is, and which house they're referring to.) 

Wildbow Wrote: My heartbeat felt slow, my gaze was no longer darting here and there.  I was making eye contact.

It wasn’t my face in the mirror above the sink.  Nor my body.  A girl looked at me, her forehead creased in worry.  She was wearing a camisole and pyjama bottoms.  She looked strangely familiar.

I had to touch my own chest and face to verify it wasn’t my reflection.  I was shirtless, wearing different pants.  Her movements didn’t follow mine.

Instead, her fist struck the other side of the mirror.  When she spoke, it was only a little muffled.

“Run,” she said.  “Get to the house, now.”

“Which house?  Who-”

“Molly’s dead,” she said.  “You’re next.”

Another good hook in the opening chapter of that story is how the cat dies at the same moment that the grandmother does. Eerie and mysterious. And the chapter introduces the main character and the setting very well, too. "Biker-artist-guy, who ran away from home, starts seeing ghosts." Not bad. 

Hopefully some of these will be of help to you.

Re: Looking for a Few Good (or Bad!) Hooks


NovelNinja Wrote: I'm teaching a class* on hooking your audience tomorrow for my workshop. I usually have examples for the students to analyze and possibly rework. It's also the first of my lectures for the semester and I'll be telling them about Royal Road, too. 

If anyone wants to offer up their work for sacrifice charity, I'll take up to three of your hooks and we'll see what we have time for. If they have anything I consider an improvement I'll pass it back on. So if you're particularly proud of a hook (at the beginning or even the middle of a book), or you have one you don't like but want to make better, I'd be interested in looking at it.

(* Note: it's not a credited course. I'm a guest lecturer, not a professor. Just adding that because it's caused problems before elsewhere.)

Here are a few from two of my stories. 

From Deshawn Dale & the Hidden World, Chapter 1 - "Note to self - the next time your crush invites you over to her place after school, it's probably best not to bring along a creepy ancient half mask!" 

From the Epic of the Atlas Dawn, Chapter 2.1 - "Klay realized he was having a nightmare, but he knew there was nothing he could do about it."

Let me know what you think. 

Re: Looking for a Few Good (or Bad!) Hooks

I like to have my hooks at the end of my chapters. Here are three examples, if you still need some for your course:


Quote:“[...] I wish you a speedy recovery, my lord.”
After saying that, she tried to leave but his large palm clasped around her hand for the fourth time, stopping her in her tracks.

“Girl, wait. What is...?”

“My liege, what is going on?”

A young surprised voice sounded from the door. There stood the cart driver boy Lorelei had seen during the parade. His appearance startled them and the man unintentionally loosened his grip. Lorelei tore away and rushed out as fast as she could, passing like a lightning between the young boy and the door. She was already at the other end of the floor when the man’s vengeful roar filled the air.

“Jess, you lazy bum, go catch her!”

Unfortunately for poor Jessup, by the time he ran out, it was already too late.
(Chapter 1)


Quote:“Dear wife, since we are on the topic of my territory and people, there is something else that I have to talk to you about. It is related to your position as my duchess and mistress of house Norden.”
Hearing his earnest words, Lorelei straightened her back and looked him in the eyes. But… what did she see in them? Was her husband perturbed? No way. Right?

Noah took a deep breath.

“You must know, lady Lorelei, that you are the only woman I have ever wed. However, you should know that house Norden also has another lady, and this lady is my… daughter.”
(Chapter 8)


Quote:"Y-you came for me!” she sobbed, throwing herself in Noah’s arms.
It was as if time had stopped, all his senses sharpened to the very peak. Noah could feel the pull in his heart, now amplified by the magical connection they shared. Through the smoke, he could see the familiar face, the chestnut hair trailing behind her. Then came the flash – silent like an attacking snake and just as vicious. Steel dug into flesh – cold, unforgiving, deadly.

Time started flowing again as a single word dissolved in the air.

(Chapter 40)

In addition, I can recommend looking at this chapter. I think it itself is one big hook. Well, cross my fingers for my parts to be used. And cross them again to be used as a positive example.

Re: Looking for a Few Good (or Bad!) Hooks

From the opening scene of my short story, A Thousand and Two Nights Street.

His eyes bulging, white teeth a tight line beneath a thin black mustache, the swarthy man pulls and wrestles with my left hand.
"Give it to me! The ring! Now!"
A sudden push, and both of us topple over the balcony rail.
A giddy weightlessness vies with the roar of wind streaming past my face. Far below, gnat sized people swarm and eddy, providing me with a sense of scale against the flat ground. The brick facade of the building, blurring by on my left, a flailing dark suited figure pacing my decent on the right. I have lost control of my orientation, so the vista changes moment by moment as I helplessly and slowly revolve; no direction constant save for the inevitable downward crush.
I rub the damn ring and an alarmingly toothed maw forms just below me.
"Shit," I note.
Images flash through my mind, though not the ones you would think.

Anyway, a hook. Most of my short stories have them.

Re: Looking for a Few Good (or Bad!) Hooks


Ararara Wrote:
Ariana Wrote: hooks
As someone that's unfamiliar with your story and these characters, I can't say that any of these really "hooked" me.

A girl... ran away from her Lord, Noah? 

And this Noah has a daughter?

And then he got shanked by a girl? 
Idk. I believe you it'd be more impactful if I knew the characters though.
Hmm, you might be right... well, then they fit in the "bad hook" category  DrakanSigh

Although... did he get shanked?  peoEsmile