Hooks aren’t just for fish…

When you think of ‘hook’ what do you think of? An actual, physical Captain Hook hook? Or a fish hook?

Authors think outside the box: we think of hooks as sentences which cause our readers to say, ‘Wait! What you do mean, that ends the chapter?’


‘What happens next?’

I’ve nabbed a few of my favorite novels off my bookshelf to share the beginning sentences with you, so you’ll see what I mean:

Sword-Dancer by Jennifer Roberson (fantasy): In my line of work, I’ve seen all kinds of women. Some beautiful. Some ugly. Some just plain in between. And–being neither senile nor a man with aspirations to sainthood–whenever the opportunity presented itself (with or without my encouragement), I bedded the beautiful ones (although sometimes they bedded me), passed on the ugly ones altogether (not being a greedy man), but allowed myself discourse with the in-betweeners on a fairly regular basis, not being one to look the other way when such things as discourse and other entertainments are freely offered.

(first of all…woman writing first person man. That, in and of itself, is totally intriguing. Second, the voice just sucks me in.)

The Frog Prince by Jenni James (YA fantasy):His Royal Highness Prince Nolan turned to his mother, Queen Bethany of Hollene Court and announced “I have decided to do it!” He threw the missive from his intended, Princess Blythe McKenna,upon the small end table near the settee in the formal drawing room where his mother preferred to take her tea.

(Whatever Prince Nolan has decided to do, he’s serious about it…and I want to know what ‘it’ is.)

Hotel Transylvania: A Novel of Forbidden Love by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (fantasy): Saint-Germain was there–this is not Comte Louis, but another, quite mysterious gentleman who arrived in Paris only last May–and he played several pieces of his own composition on the violin and harpsichord. Rameau congratulated him on his work and commented that he had once met a musical man quite like him in appearance, but that had been a long time ago, in 1701 or 1702, and the man he had seen was then about fifty, whereas this man is no more than forty-five.

(And just like that, the stage is set. Who is Saint-Germain? Could he be more than what he appears?)

The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander (The Book of Three) (YA fantasy): Taran wanted to make a sword; but Coll, charged with the practical side of his education, decided on horseshoes. And so it had been horseshoes all morning long. Taran’s arms ached, soot blackened his face. At last he dropped the hammer and turned to Coll, who was watching him critically.
“Why?” Taran cried. “Why must it be horseshoes? As if we had any horses!”

(So immediately we know he’s a boy who wants adventure and is trapped making horseshoes, instead.)

I debated using my own works in progress, but really…using yourself as an example of a good hook with books that are still under construction just reeks of bad taste…and I do want you to trust that I’m not only rooting for myself…I’m rooting for you, too 🙂


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