Thursday, April 10, 2014

Confessions of an Ebook Hoarder: Why an Opening Hook is Important

Image courtesy of adamr
I admit it. I'm an ebook hoarder. I add new books to my Nook almost daily. In fact, I have so many books, I'll probably never read them all. Am I alone in this?


I see you blushing. You're guilty too, aren't you?

All authors know the importance of hooking their audience into the story right away, whether it's with a killer opening sentence or a juicy tidbit within the first few pages that makes the reader salivate for more. I'm a fan of both.

Now that I'm an ebook hoarder--in serious need of rehab--I'm very picky when it comes to the opening hook. I want the words to reach out, grab me, and slap me in the face. Truth is, I've got a million books to choose from, and I'll never have enought time to get to them all. So if the author doesn't grab my attention soon, I'm liable to move on the the next book. Am I alone in my way of thinking?


We all lead busy, hectic lives. We're bombarded with digital technology and colorful, flashy images all day long. It's become a way of life and we expect it, even if we don't realize it. Or brains require it. Therefore, an author must paint a picture in our minds with words to grab our attention and hold it. That creates a lot of pressure on the author, but done right reaps multiple rewards.

Here are a few of my favorite opening lines (ones that've reached out, grabbed me, and slapped me) I'd like to share with you for example.

Love in the Balance by Regina Jennings
The pew creaked as another sinner rose to unburden her troubled soul. Molly Lovelace twisted around on the slick wooden bench, bunching her tiered silk skirt agianst her mother's, and watched as Louise Bradford stood. Bother. As if she had anything interesting to confess.
     "After all God has done for me, I still can't live in holiness. This week I harbored thoughts of impatience toward my husband."
     Molly cringed. Surely Mrs. Bradford's worst thoughts would bleach Molly's laundry clean.
     Molly's transgressions, on the other hand...
I loved this opening because it not only painted a great picture of a church service full of people standing to confess their sins, but it held a touch of humor and made me want to read on to find out what on earth Molly had done.
The Trouble With Cowboys by Denise Hunter
Annie Wilkerson was sitting in the Chuckwagon, minding her own business, when he mosied in. He was with a crowd, of course. He always traveled in a pack--him and his handful of ardent admirers.
     Annie opened the menu, propped it on the table, and slouched behind it. The Silver Spurs belted out some country-and-western tune her sister probably knew by heart. The clamor in the crowded restaurant seemed to have increased twice over since Dylan and company walked in. But maybe that was her imagination.
     The chair across from her screeched against the plank floor. Finally. John was already ten minutes late. She lowered her menu, smiling anyway.
     An instant later the smile tumbled from her lips.
     Dylan Taylor plopped his hat down and sprawled in the chair like he owned the table, the restaurant, and half of Park County besides. His impertinent grin slanted sideways, calling his dimple into action--a fact of which he was no doubt aware.
     "Annie Wilkerson. Why's the prettiest filly in Moose Creek sitting all by her lonesome on a Saturday night?" Dylan's Texas drawl had followed him north, sticking with him like a stray dog.
I loved this opening because it pulled me into the heroine's personality and mood, it held humor, and painted such a great picture of the hero, I wanted more.
 Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent

The summer I turned thirteen, I thought I'd killed a man.

All it took was one sentece, and I was hooked.

These are just a few examples from books I had on hand.
My pickiness about an opening hook has also pushed me to strive for words that slap the reader when I'm writing my first paragraph. (I'm really not a violent person. I promise.) It's vital to our audience.

What demands do you have when you begin a book? Do you have a favorite opening line from a book you'd like to share? I'd love to hear from you.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, my name is Pegg. (Waits for the obligatory "hello Pegg.") I'm an e-book hoarder too.

    But for whatever reason, once I start a book, I feel obligated to finish it. It's very rare that I don't. If I don't' finish the book it's beyond a stinker. I am, however, getting good at opening the book on Amazon and reading the first page. This has culled out a LOT of stinkers before they make it to my tablet.