Do you dive into a swimming pool straight away without dipping your foot in first? Do you buy a perfume without doing a skin-test first? If not, then why do you expect a reader to fall for your novel without skimming through the opening first?
There are three ‘hooks’ that can grip the reader as she browses through the millions of titles available for purchase on a given day – the book cover, the blurb at the back of the book, and the first three chapters (or the opening). Well, make that four if you want to include reviews on the cover, but many authors, especially newbies, do not have the luxury of having marquee reviews to crow about.
While the other hooks can be the subject of separate posts by themselves, the opening or the first three chapters are really your first, and perhaps your only, chance to grab the reader and throw her headlong into your story.
Anybody who’s somebody that matters to your book’s publication and its success – agents, publishers, reviewers, readers – is going to invariably sniff at the opening first. Smells good? They dive right in. Stinks? They throw your book back where it belongs – in the pile along with the others.
So, here are some quick and simple ways that newbie writers can use to create that irresistible hook.