When you’re starting a story, you want to arouse people’s interest. When a person reads your text, they should feel compelled to figure out what happens next. Once you’ve gotten the reader’s attention, you’ll have all the time in the world to fill in the gaps with exposition and other story elements.

A novel’s beginning must captivate the reader in this age of instant gratification, short attention spans, and loads of other fantastic fiction to compete with.

Otherwise, readers may consider the book a major DNF (did not finish) — or, if they’re looking at sample pages online or the first pages in a bookstore, they may decide not to buy it at all. So, how can you start a story off right?

Here are a few ideas to write a good hook!

How-to-start-a-story-with-a-hook-TrueEditors
Ideas to write a good hook story

1. Open with a great line or paragraph

While you should revise the entire short story — pull it apart, massage it, and shape it until it’s perfect — It is recommended to give extra attention to the first paragraph or three.

Here are some ideas for making a great start to your short story:

What effect do you want to achieve? In a short story, you only have a small amount of time to make an impression on the reader. Consider your desired effect and how you might start the process of achieving it in your first few paragraphs. Every sentence, every word, should help to achieve that goal.

Grab their interest. One of the key functions of the opener is to attract the reader’s attention.

Imagine your story is being published in a magazine, and you’re up against feature stories about how to win a man or how to please her in bed for the reader’s attention. You need to get people’s attention right away.

Make them curious. You must excite their curiosity, not simply attract their attention, in order to keep their attention and make them want to read more. Make a statement. Raise a question in the mind of the reader. Attract them into your universe.

Maintain the story’s integrity. While the last two criteria are crucial, trying to have a dazzling introduction when your story is more subdued is also not a smart idea.

You’ve broken an implied promise to the reader if you capture the reader’s interest and draw them in, only to have the story turn out to be radically different from the introduction. The beginning sets the tone for the rest of the story. If you don’t stay faithful to the story’s spirit, you’ll be breaking your promise.

2. Start with action

Using action to create a dramatic effect is a fantastic way to start. Because an unexplained action produces suspense, the narration is very pedestrian in this aspect. A reader wants to know why something is occurring, and it’s far more rewarding to figure it out over the course of a few paragraphs or pages than to be told straight.

You may start with a fight, the discovery of a body, or a group of people stranded in the jungle, for example. You’re seeking a turning point in a bigger picture. The technique of beginning a story with an action that has no explanation is known as “in media res,” which literally translates to “in the middle of things.”

This intrigues the reader and makes them ponder how things came to be in the first place.

3. Set the tone

Setting the tone of the book right away — whether it’s one of doom, mystery, mischief, or snark – tells the reader, “This is what the world is like, and you’re now engaged in it, and here we go.”

The first sentence of George Orwell’s iconic dystopian novel 1984 reads, “It was a bright freezing day in April, and all the clocks were striking thirteen.” The reader immediately recognizes that this is both a familiar world — same weather patterns, same terms for months of the year — and a foreign universe.

And by using the number “thirteen,” which is frequently associated with bad luck, Orwell immediately builds suspense and intrigue. He makes it clear that this isn’t going to be a happy book. Things are going to get a lot worse.

4. Don’t get caught up with the exposition

It’s tempting to divulge everything about a character in the first few pages – their backstory, their challenges, their secrets. Isn’t this the best way for readers to get to know them?

However, it is strongly advised against it. Using some of the strategies listed above to produce a more lively initial few pages or chapters can increase the page-turning experience, and you can get to the nitty-gritty character stuff later.

5. Begin in a state of uncertainty

The traditional trope of waking up and having no idea what’s going on is always a fantastic way to start a story. Eliza Fontaine, the main heroine in the novel, The Elizas, wakes up in a bed she doesn’t recognize.

She’s discovering what happened to her alongside the reader — she fell into a pool and is now in the hospital — and it’s apparent that it’s her duty to fill in the gaps in her memory and find out who nearly drowned her.

Because it’s a book about fuzzy memories and jumbled minds, this framework works effectively, and readers can work with her to piece everything together.

6. Finish the first chapter on a cliffhanger

We’ve discussed how to begin the first chapters, but what about how to conclude them? Working in enough cliffhangers to keep readers wanting more is one of the most challenging tasks you have while writing a novel. So, it is really important to end the first chapter interesting, which will compel the readers to continue reading.

 

Conclusion

All writing rules, including the ones stated out above, are supposed to be broken. They’re just guidelines, so if you have something that works despite the restrictions, go for it.

And always rewrite.  Whatever your first try was, there’s a good possibility it may be improved. Examine the points listed above to see if there’s anything you can do to improve it. Is it possible to put the reader even closer to the action? Are you able to eliminate words that aren’t necessary?

Isn’t it better to use the present tense? Is it possible to improve the dialogue? If possible, rewrite numerous times until you are fully satisfied.

Thanks and Regards,

Isabell S.

The TrueEditors Team

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