Friday, May 13, 2011

Gimme a Good Hook ;)

Call Me Ishmael. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Think of all the good opening lines you’ve read in your favorite novels. The first line of a story can be so critical and it’s often in those precious moments that a reader decides whether they’ll continue perusing the rest of the book. I often find myself struggling when trying to come up with an opening hook for my own fiction. I have no problem writing the rest of the story, but I always feel that the first sentence could use a little umf to really sparkle and shine. 

So what’s in an opening line? What are some of your favorite hooks from your favorite novels? Or what are some of your own favorite creations for opening hooks? Don’t worry, I’m not looking to steal your brilliant ideas, but I love hearing the creative insights of others as it often inspires me on my own little journeys on the page. So have at it!


  1. I like something a little strange, a little unpredictable.

    But also something that feels like the right place to start the story.

    I see a lot of clever hooks that feel like false starts. To me, the best opening lines provide momentum. They don't mislead or require backtracking.

  2. Ahhh...I swear I spend more time coming up with my opening line than I do writing the entire book :) I like something that draws me in right away and gives me a taste of the main character's voice. I read the Percy Jackson series last year and loved the opening lines in those books (not just of the books themselves, but also of the chapters).

    My current opening line (though it will most certainly change before the book is done):

    Min had never considered herself a violent sort of person, but if she had to wait any longer she couldn’t be held responsible for her actions.

  3. It should be something that makes the reader ask, "why?" The shock-value opening lines never impress me as much, I prefer to have an opening line that's intriguing and arouses my curiosity....

  4. Hektor - You're definitely right about the strange and unpredictable part, it's so true but so hard to capture on the page. You also have a good point about false starts;)

    Michelle - Very cool first line! I'll have to checkout the opening lines of the Percy Jackson books, thanks for the lead:)

    Leia - Very true about the problems with writing only for shock value, but how to be intriguing...easier said than done:)

  5. It was a dark and stormy night. That's the most original and least overused of all opening lines, and therefore the best. ;-)