Posted by: anitanolan | November 17, 2009

Beginnings–Part Two: Strategies to Hook the Reader

Good strategies for hooking the reader:

  • Make the reader curious.  Start in such a way that they’re asking questions.
  • Make the reader care about character.
  • Use loaded words (kill, died, gun, kiss, stab, knife.)  These are words that catch your attention.  They are particularly effective at the end of a sentence or a paragraph.
  • Include something that engages the senses.  Describe the smells, the sounds, the way things feel in the scene.
  • Include conflict.
  • Use specificity.  Don’t say the bird tweeted.  Say the Great Horned Owl hooted or the crow cawed.  Don’t say your character is in a car, call it a Ford Mustang, a Bentley, or a jalopy.  (Or say she should have traded her rattle-trap in during Cash for Clunkers.)  Any of those give you a mind picture.

Different people use different strategies for writing their books.  Some save the beginning until they’ve written the rest of the book.  Others write all the way through from beginning to end.  (this is me.)  Others write bits and pieces that they know happen then string them all together when they have enough to make a story.  Since I start at the beginning, I typically have a hard time starting a manuscript until I’ve figured out a good way into the story.  It helps me get started if I can run down a list of  beginning types and imagine how I might use each to start my story.

Tomorrow:  Types of Beginnings.


  1. […] also keeping an eye on Anita Nolan’s series on beginnings on her blog. Yesterday she had tips to hook the reader, and the first was keeping them curious. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: