How to Start Your Novel

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I love to read.

I have easily read hundreds of books, not that I have actually counted. I have read great books, good books, decent books, okay books, and have even tried to tough out reading terrible books.

I, like a lot of readers, can usually tell if we want to keep reading a book by the end of the first page, usually even sooner than that.

A reader’s time is limited, and precious, if they cannot get past that first page, why in the world would they want to risk wasting any more time on your book, when there are thousands upon thousands of other books they can be reading?

It does not matter how amazing you think your story is, if you cannot hook your reader on the first page -not just the first page, but the first sentence.

That is where we will be starting. At the beginning.

If you want to draw in a reader, and ultimately a publisher so that your story will even get out to readers, you need a great first sentence. A hook. Something that will grab their attention so that they keep reading, and don’t want to stop.

A hook should invoke curiosity, why is this happening? Why is the person, or people, in this position? A good hook will make people want to keep reading to have those questions, or others like them, answered.

A hook should also present conflict, what will happen because of what was introduced in the hook?

It should also be an introduction for the action to come. Things should flow smoothly from there. If you have a great hook, you do not want the action to drop off after that. The suspense should only build higher from this point.

Below I have compiled some of the most well known hooks. Why are the well known? Why do they such a good job hooking the reader?

The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed. -Stephen King, The Gunslinger

  •  This hook invokes curiosity. Why is the Man in Black fleeing? Why is the Gunslinger  following? Who is the Man in Black? Who is the Gunslinger?
  • There is conflict. What will happen once the Gunslinger catches the Man in Black?
  • The hook itself already has action: fled, followed, but there is a lot of potential for more. Where is the Man in Black going?

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.  – J.R.R. Tolkein, The Hobbit

  • What is a hobbit?
  • Why is he/she in a hole?
  • What will happen when a hobbit leaves their hole?

It was a pleasure to burn. -Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

  • Why is something burning?
  • What is a pleasure to burn?
  • What will happen after the fire goes out?

The three hooks above are three well known lines, and there are so many more examples out there, that I could continue making posts just about them, but I don’t have that much time or patience.

So, if you’re writing a novel, do you have your hook?

What are some of your favorite hooks? Why do they work so well? Share below!

Leave me your thoughts, opinions, questions, what have you, below. I love to hear from you guys.

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3 thoughts on “How to Start Your Novel

  1. Started my own novel but never completed it, your tips might come in handy. Thanks for sharing 🙂
    I’m a wannabe writer too, but I still have a long way to go, especially because English isn’t my mother tongue!

    Liked by 1 person

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