Books with Hooks
I’ve been having a think recently about the concept of a ‘hook’ in writing. Specifically with reference to novels (obviously!). I was prompted towards this train of thought by the book that I’m currently reading, which has such a good ‘hook’ that I can’t put it down. I’m staying up late, forgetting to feed the dogs (although not for long, they’re excellent communicators!), thinking about it when I should be immersed in my own story.
If you don’t know what a ‘hook’ is: for a book it’s an idea, or a premise, that ‘grabs’ the reader so they want to read the story, or want to keep reading it. It’s what drives the narrative. Or, if that’s still not clear, think of a news story. What’s the ‘hook’ in a news story? “Man goes for a walk” – no hook. “Man goes for a walk and never comes back” – sorry for the simplistic example, but there’s the hook. It starts you asking questions – why didn’t he come back? Where is he? What happened? It makes you want to know more, to read on – hence, the ‘hook.’
For a novel to be a success these days, it needs a brilliant ‘hook.’ It needs to stand out in a compelling way in a highly competitive market, and it needs to deliver on its promises. You might say, that makes thinking up a new story idea even more difficult, as there’s no such thing as a new idea. But what’s great about being an author is that we all know, if you give an idea or a topic to a random group of people and ask them to write a story about it, each one will be COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. It really will.
Because people are different. They have different lives, different backgrounds, families, jobs. Their values and their experiences are different. They think in their own ways. They write in individual styles that don’t mirror each other. At all! And that’s what’s so great about being an author. This book I’m writing might not have the hook that will make it a best-seller — but it might! It might just catch the moment, the zeitgeist, the imagination of people living at this time, in this world.
And if it’s not this book, it could be the next one, or the next.
I live in hope, and I write on!