Sunday, September 8, 2013

Down and Dirty - Hook 'Em

Savvy authors manipulate the writing of their story so that they never end a chapter with characters going to sleep. They’ll send their character to bed, but oh, oh, not to sleep. Characters may jump into bed for more conflict, more action. 

Savvy authors never end a chapter by completely resolving an issue. They leave things hanging.  They want the reader to turn the page and continue reading . . . until 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 in the morning. It’s deliberately done.  It harkens back to the vintage newsreels where the helpless heroine was placed on the railroad tracks by the villian to lure the hero into a trap.  

Would the hero rescue the heroine in time before the train arrived? Come back to the theatre next week to find out.

As a savvy author works on revisions, they examine each chapter and deliberately make sure they have used a technique to pull the reader forward:

--They can end a chapter in the middle of a scene.  In Virginia Kantra’s Home Before Midnight, the heroine Bailey Wells realizes at the end of Chapter 12 that she wants the hero Steve, the cop who’s investigating the death of her boss’ wife. She kisses him and he kisses her back, an intoxicating kiss that knocks her off balance.  Kantra could have continued the scene there, but she doesn’t. Instead she puts these two aroused people, in the midst of their lovemaking at the end of the chapter.  Steve, the hero, pushes Bailey away, and says, “Enough.” He is having second thoughts.  The chapter ends.  Now, who isn’t going to turn the page to see what happens next.  Very powerful.

Other techniques include:

--They can end the chapter with the entrance of a new character

--They can end the chapter with a provocative statement which gets the reader wondering what the heck is going on or what is coming next.

--They can end with an unanswered question, which again inspires an I want to know more attitude from the reader. 

But let’s not forget the beginning of the story either.  It's equally important to pull the reader into the world of your story as quickly as possible. Personally, I love when savvy authors begin somewhere in the middle of the scene and then retreat backwards a bit.  Sometimes they begin with dialogue and then stop and provide just the right amount of dialogue to give us setting and circumstance so that we’re not floating around confused.  

They hook us, then ground us.  Love it!!  

Down and Dirty - End and Begin Each Chapter with A Hook - Step # 7 in Revising Your Story.  

See you next month when we delve into how to describe your setting so your reader doesn’t skip over it!


Janice Seagraves said...

Exactly. Great article. You don't have to leave your character literally hanging off the cliff but leave a question in your reader's mind.


hotcha12 said...

oooooooooh child, tell me about it!!