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An Opening HOOK? Options · View
MorganHawke
Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 12:36:10 PM

Rank: First Person Smartass

Joined: 2/8/2011
Posts: 347
Location: The suburbs.
An Opening HOOK?

-----Original Message-----
"We constantly hear people talk about a hook. I was just wondering, how important is an opening hook? How close to the opening does it have to be? Seriously, how many people pick up a book or story and put it back down after the first sentence or paragraph? Do we have some forgiveness here? I would think that a published, well known author might not need one."
-- Writer in Waiting

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Let’s break this down and tackle each, one at a time.

"I was just wondering, how Important is an Opening Hook?”

How important? Vitally important.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"57% of new books are not read to completion. Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased."
--Jerrold Jenkins

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This means you have 4500 words to catch your reader's interest in your story. If you can't grab your reader the moment they open to the first page, your chances of them walking that book to the counter and buying it DROP astronomically.

On a story post site, you have ONE PARAGRAPH to grab your reader's interest enough to read more. If you don't catch them IMMEDIATELY, it's all too easy to click on another title to see if that's more interesting.

Just so you know, most potential readers decide what books they’ll purchase by:

-- Cover Art*
-- Back Cover Blurb
-- Inside Excerpt
-- First Page (first 150 words)
-- Last page (A LOT of buyers will not buy a book with an Unhappy Ending no matter how good the meat of the story is -- especially if that book is marketed as a Romance or EROTICA.)

-- In that order.

If your first page is dull and boring, you’re more or less screwed.

When it comes to story post sites, you don't even have that much. You have your opening paragraph -- that's it. (Which is why author notes at the beginning of a story are a BAD IDEA. Put them at the End.)

*Note on Cover Art: Although it is the first thing assessed by a potential buyer, Cover Art actually carries far less weight in the final purchasing decision than any of the others. Cover Art is merely a tool to catch the eye and make the buyer pick up the book for consideration. Most readers have learned that few covers actually have anything to do with what the book is about, so if the cover art stinks, but the rest is interesting, they’ll buy it.

“How close to the opening does it have to be?”

To GET them reading, your hook should be on the first line of the first page. To KEEP them reading, you should have a hook at the end of every single chapter.

Examples from my books:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kiss of the Wolf

It was so cold…

Her breath steamed from her lips. Naked and shivering, she rose from her crouch. Her long pale brown hair falling over her bare shoulders, and the tall white dog pressed against her side, were her only sources of warmth.

The windowless basement of the abandoned textile factory was thick with shadows. She couldn’t see the walls or ceiling at all. The only light came from the circular design inscribed on the worn plank floor blazing an eerie blue, all the way around them.

She needed to get out of there.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Insatiable

"Might I have your company for the night?"

"Huh?" Elaine glanced up from her belly-down sprawl across the private compartment’s plush banquette sofa. The art deco lamp directly over her was on, but the polished cherry wood walls made the rest of the antique Pullman car very dark. She blinked. Where did he come from?

A tall man in a nearly floor-length black leather coat, stood just inside the deep shadow of her compartment’s door. His hands hung loose at his sides. "Pardon the intrusion." His voice was soft, low, and velvety with a touch of exotic eastern European lilt. He tilted his head toward the closed door. "I did knock, and your door was unlocked."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hungry Spirits

"This historical mansion is supposed to be haunted. Isn't that cool?"

"What?" The rubber soles of Keiko's pink house slippers caught on the antique, red and gold carpet, making her trip. She barely stopped from pitching into the student directly in front of her. With the entire class crammed in the narrow hallway, there was barely enough walking room, never mind room to fall. She turned to her left, and frowned at her classmate. "Tika, did you say, haunted?"

"Yep." Tika smiled, showing the boy-grabbing dimple in the heart of her cheek. The light shining through the warm cream of the rice paper wall, they were walking alongside, gave her oval face a warm glow. "The ghost of an old samurai is supposed to be watching over the family."

Thunder boomed, rattling the rattan frames of the long, rice paper sliding walls on the left.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Seriously, how many people pick up a book or story and put it back down after the first sentence or paragraph? Do we have some forgiveness here?”

Survey says…!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“As a reader I generally give a new book (before I've bought it) the first paragraph to get my interest, sometimes less. I'll almost always put down a book that starts with a description of landscape, as lots of fantasy seem to.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“As a reader, I always open the book to the first page and start reading (in a book shop before I buy the book). If the writing style is awkward or the wording is boring I'll put the book down and keep looking.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Weather report beginnings are a turn off for me. But something subtle, interesting, or thought provoking, in the first paragraph is enough to keep me reading, for a while.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“I'll only grant ‘forgiveness’ to an author who has entertained me in the past, and even then I'm not all that lenient.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Most if not ALL potential buyers have only one interest when buying a book to read: PERSONAL ENTERTAINMENT. If the reader is not grabbed on the first page, your book goes back on the shelf in favor of one that DOES grab them.

The only books allowed to be dull and boring on the first page, are text books designed strictly for education. (They’re expected to be dull and boring.)

“…I would think that a published well known author might not need [a hook]."

Being published and well known does NOT mean that a reader won't put a book down that doesn't interest them, and there are ALWAYS people that have never heard of you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“If a book is going nowhere after initially getting my interest, I'll stop reading, and never pick up another book by that author again.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“If I'm not ‘into’ it after 15 pages I usually give up.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“It's the author's job to keep me interested from the very first line to the very last, because if they can't, there are plenty that can and I'd rather be reading their books.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Never forget! Your book is in direct competition with every other book in that store, therefore you should avail yourself of every trick you can think of to Get that Reader – and then Keep that Reader.

“What is a HOOK anyway?”

Very simply, it’s what makes the reader turn the page. It’s the Mysterious Circumstance, the Precarious Situation, the Horrible Turn of Events, etc. that drives the Reader to Keep Reading to discover: “What will happen NEXT?” More commonly known as: SUSPENSE.

There is a Reason why MYSTERIES are a top selling genre – they keep the reader guessing right up to the last page.

“But I’m not writing a Mystery!”
So what? I don’t write mysteries either, but I do have a Mysterious Circumstance, a Precarious Situation, a Horrible Turn of Events -- a hook -- at the end of every chapter. And I never give anything away until the last possible second.

“But what if I'm writing Literature? They rarely (if ever) have hooks.”
Once upon a time they didn't, (like 10 years or more ago.) They DO NOW or they don't get past the publication editor. A book without an opening hook certainly won't make it past an agent.

These days agents and editors ask for Partial manuscripts, that's 60 pages - 4 chapters - not whole manuscripts. Not a whole lot of room to impress someone. What they DON'T tell you, is if you don't hook them on the First Page, they won't even bother reading the REST of the partial.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Publishers toss Booker winners into the reject pile.
They can’t judge a book without its cover.

Jonathan Calvert and Will Iredale

The Sunday Times, London UK, January 01, 2006
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Publishers and agents have rejected two Booker prize-winning novels submitted as works by aspiring authors. One of the books considered unworthy by the publishing industry was by VS Naipaul, one of Britain’s greatest living writers, who won the Nobel Prize for literature.

The exercise by The Sunday Times draws attention to concerns that the industry has become incapable of spotting genuine literary talent.

Typed manuscripts of the opening chapters of Naipaul’s “In a Free State” and a second novel, “Holiday,” by Stanley Middleton, were sent to 20 publishers and agents. None appears to have recognized them as Booker prizewinners from the 1970s that were lauded as British novel writing at its best. Of the 21 replies, all but one were rejections.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Read the Entire Article: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article784051.ece

In Conclusion:
If you expect your manuscript to get past an agent, or a publishing editor, you need to make your story engaging, and compelling to read right from the Opening Line.

If you want to make your READERS ask for More, you you need to make your story engaging, and compelling to read, from Opening Line to the Closing Chapter.

DISCLAIMER: As with all advice, take what you can use and throw out the rest. As a multi-published author, I have been taught some fairly rigid rules on what is publishable and what is not. If my rather straight-laced (and occasionally snotty,) advice does not suit your creative style, by all means, IGNORE IT.


Morgan Hawke
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Purveyor of fine Smut.
DarkErotica.Net ~ My Website
DarkErotica Blog ~ My Writers' blog

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
Albert Einstein

Mistress_of_words
Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 1:08:21 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/14/2011
Posts: 591
Location: At my keyboard, writing stories for you
Fantastic advice as always. icon_biggrin

Personally I try to think of it like this:
Your first line must make the reader read the first paragraph
Your first paragraph must make them read the first page
Your first page must make them read the first chapter
Your first chapter must make them keep reading

I've found that of the easier ways to try and hook your reader with the first line is to start with a line of dialogue. Drop your readers straight into a conversation.

The importance of this on Lush is quite visible - when a story appears on the home page it shows about the first three lines, what you put in those three lines will definitely affect whether someone clicks to "read on."

MorganHawke
Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 1:28:07 PM

Rank: First Person Smartass

Joined: 2/8/2011
Posts: 347
Location: The suburbs.
Mistress_of_words wrote:
Your first line must make the reader read the first paragraph
Your first paragraph must make them read the first page
Your first page must make them read the first chapter
Your first chapter must make them keep reading


That should be taped to every writer's monitor.

Mistress_of_words wrote:
I've found that of the easier ways to try and hook your reader with the first line is to start with a line of dialogue. Drop your readers straight into a conversation.


That is an excellent method. I've used it myself. It's especially good if the line is intriguing or Sarcastic.

Mistress_of_words wrote:
The importance of this on Lush is quite visible - when a story appears on the home page it shows about the first three lines, what you put in those three lines will definitely affect whether someone clicks to "read on."


Absolutely! Which is why Author Notes should NEVER go at the beginning of a posted story. It eats up all the space where your story's hook should be.

Morgan Hawke
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Purveyor of fine Smut.
DarkErotica.Net ~ My Website
DarkErotica Blog ~ My Writers' blog

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
Albert Einstein

GallagherWitt
Posted: Friday, May 13, 2011 6:47:12 AM

Rank: Advanced Wordsmith

Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 99
Location: Okinawa, Japan
MorganHawke wrote:
Mistress_of_words wrote:
Your first line must make the reader read the first paragraph
Your first paragraph must make them read the first page
Your first page must make them read the first chapter
Your first chapter must make them keep reading


That should be taped to every writer's monitor.


Quoted for truth.

I highly recommend having a look at the entries in Nathan Bransford's first paragraph contest. It gives an excellent idea of what agents/editors have to sift through, and how important it is to REALLY stand out from the crowd. After reading fifteen or twenty entries, they all kind of start blending together until one REALLY good one jumps out at you.

Lori
L. A. Witt (gay male erotic romance)
Lauren Gallagher (heterosexual erotic romance)
Twitter: GallagherWitt
My Website * My Blog * Marginally Unhinged (my webcomic)

"Service with a Smirk, that's you." - Morgan Hawke
DirtyMartini
Posted: Friday, May 13, 2011 4:44:23 PM

Rank: Purveyor of Poetry & Porn

Joined: 10/19/2009
Posts: 5,790
Location: Right here on Lush Stories..., United States
This caught my attention...

MorganHawke wrote:



These days agents and editors ask for Partial manuscripts, that's 60 pages - 4 chapters - not whole manuscripts.




How standard is that, if at all? I've been reading in writing forums that five chapters and a 1000 word synopsis seems to be the thing these days...

Is is different for erotica/romance?


You know you want it, you know you need it bad...get it now on Amazon.com...
Lush Erotica, an Anthology of Award Winning Sex Stories

MorganHawke
Posted: Friday, May 13, 2011 5:48:08 PM

Rank: First Person Smartass

Joined: 2/8/2011
Posts: 347
Location: The suburbs.
DirtyMartini wrote:
MorganHawke wrote:
...Partial manuscripts, that's 60 pages - 4 chapters - not whole manuscripts.


How standard is that, if at all? I've been reading in writing forums that five chapters and a 1000 word synopsis seems to be the thing these days... Is is different for erotica/romance?


A Partial plus synopsis is standard for brick and mortar publishers and some epublishers like Samhain Press or Ellora's Cave. NONE of those will take a full manuscript without express invitation. How many pages they consider to be a Partial, depends entirely on the individual publisher -- which is why one should ALWAYS read the submission guidelines BEFORE submitting anything to anyone.

However, 60 pages (double-spaced with each page counted as 250 words,) plus a full synopsis was what my agent asked for while she was shopping my manuscript for Kiss of the Wolf to several of the larger publishers. That's what she considers 'standard.'

Just so you know, my chapters tend to be roughly 2500 words each, so 60 pages WAS 4 chapters for me.

My erotic romance publishers are ebook publishers. They prefer a completed manuscript.

Morgan Hawke
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Purveyor of fine Smut.
DarkErotica.Net ~ My Website
DarkErotica Blog ~ My Writers' blog

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
Albert Einstein

TracyAmes
Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 5:11:12 AM

Rank: Advanced Wordsmith

Joined: 4/8/2011
Posts: 204
Location: Here nor There, United States
Another excellent post, Morgan. Penning a captivating back cover blurb used to render me a glass-eyed omphaloskeptic. Normally I pick up a book, read the back, and if the blurb peaks my interest, then I'll read the first page. So when it came to creating my own, I freaked! ~cue glass eyes~

"A book without an opening hook certainly won't make it past an agent."
Bang on! Agents are peppered with submissions. Manuscripts lacking proper hooks land in litter bins. Didn't you write a post on the uses of "Said"?
'Said' = nails on a chalkboard. violent1

Tracy Ames
Erotic Word Slinger & Smarty Pants
InterracialErotica.net ~ My Website
Rants & Rambles ~ My Youtube Channel

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”
E. L. Doctorow
MorganHawke
Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 9:30:40 AM

Rank: First Person Smartass

Joined: 2/8/2011
Posts: 347
Location: The suburbs.
TracyAmes wrote:
Another excellent post, Morgan. Penning a captivating back cover blurb used to render me a glass-eyed omphaloskeptic. Normally I pick up a book, read the back, and if the blurb peaks my interest, then I'll read the first page. So when it came to creating my own, I freaked! ~cue glass eyes~


Writing back blurbs ARE a pain in the ass. I use a Formula.

Synopsis:
*YOUR PROTAGONIST* *PURSUES A GOAL*. *YOUR OTHER PROTAGONIST* *PURSUES A GOAL*. *WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS* they are thrown together & sparks fly! To * PURSUE A NEW GOAL*, they are forced to work together & more than sparks fly.

But *ANTAGONISTS* are *PROVIDING OPPOSITION*!

And then there’s the *HINT AT PLOT TWIST*


TracyAmes wrote:
"A book without an opening hook certainly won't make it past an agent."
Bang on! Agents are peppered with submissions. Manuscripts lacking proper hooks land in litter bins.
Didn't you write a post on the uses of "Said"? 'Said' = nails on a chalkboard. violent1


I did indeed. I LOATHE the word "said."

Morgan Hawke
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Purveyor of fine Smut.
DarkErotica.Net ~ My Website
DarkErotica Blog ~ My Writers' blog

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
Albert Einstein

Mistress_of_words
Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 9:45:14 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/14/2011
Posts: 591
Location: At my keyboard, writing stories for you
Huh... other than "was" I'm not sure there is a more debated word in writing than said.

I've read so much advice that says you should rarely use any other verb than said in your dialogue tags. On the basis that, in theory, your dialogue should speak for itself, and propping it up with diverse, inappropriate verbs and adverbs is just explaining what you should be conveying with the speech itself. Meanwhile "said" is neutral and functional.

This was one example - http://fecklessgoblin.blogspot.com/2011/01/guest-blog-dialogue-by-tony-noland.html

Mistress_of_words
Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 9:46:44 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/14/2011
Posts: 591
Location: At my keyboard, writing stories for you
MorganHawke wrote:

Writing back blurbs ARE a pain in the ass. I use a Formula.

Synopsis:
*YOUR PROTAGONIST* *PURSUES A GOAL*. *YOUR OTHER PROTAGONIST* *PURSUES A GOAL*. *WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS* they are thrown together & sparks fly! To * PURSUE A NEW GOAL*, they are forced to work together & more than sparks fly.

But *ANTAGONISTS* are *PROVIDING OPPOSITION*!

And then there’s the *HINT AT PLOT TWIST*


*copy*

*paste*

*save*

icon_biggrin

MorganHawke
Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 10:59:30 AM

Rank: First Person Smartass

Joined: 2/8/2011
Posts: 347
Location: The suburbs.
Mistress_of_words wrote:
...said in your dialogue tags. On the basis that, in theory, your dialogue should speak for itself, and propping it up with diverse, inappropriate verbs and adverbs is just explaining what you should be conveying with the speech itself. Meanwhile "said" is neutral and functional.

This was one example - http://fecklessgoblin.blogspot.com/2011/01/guest-blog-dialogue-by-tony-noland.html


I hate ALL dialogue tags.
-- Yes, dialogue should speak for itself, however, I use Actions to denote who is speaking, not Tags.

When you have an action with a line of dialogue, you don't need Dialogue tags, such as "said" at all. You already know through their actions WHO is speaking. Dialogue tags are only ever needed when you don’t have any other way of identifying the speaker. HOWEVER, if you have no other way of knowing who is speaking than dialogue tags, then you have committed the heinous crime of: Dialogue in a Vacuum, also known as “talking heads syndrome.”

Just for the record, using dialogue tags is Not against the rules. Dialogue tags are a perfectly viable way to identify who is speaking -- it just makes that part of the story BORING. (I don't know about you, but I won't read something that bores me.)

I choose to write my dialogue without using "said" unless I am actually describing a change in voice, tone, or volume in the same paragraph. And even then, I try to avoid them. I use the speaker's actions to define who is speaking to whom. I use ACTION TAGS. What the heck is an Action Tag? BODY LANGUAGE.

Stories are Mental Movies you play in your imagination. I don't know about you, but I HATE to be interrupted when I'm involved in a good movie. If I have to stop and reread a section just to figure out what the heck is going on, I've been interrupted. One too many interruptions and I'm switching to another story -- with no intention of continuing with something that's just too much work to get through.

Action tags keep the mental Movie rolling and the MEANING of what is being said crystal clear. A small simple action can tell you right away, what's going through the speaker's head.

Don't just SAY it! ~ SHOW IT!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“I love you too.” She rolled her eyes and sighed dramatically. “Oh yes, I truly do love you.”
“I love you too.” She dropped her chin and pouted. “Oh yes, I truly do love you.”
“I love you too.” She glared straight at him. “Oh yes, I truly do love you.”
“I love you too.” She turned away and wiped the tear from her cheek. “Oh yes, I truly do love you.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And I didn't even need to use the word "said" even once.

from: The Secret to Proper Paragraphing & Dialogue
http://www.lushstories.com/forum/yaf_postst15716_The-Secret-to-Proper-Paragraphing-and-Dialogue.aspx


Morgan Hawke
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Purveyor of fine Smut.
DarkErotica.Net ~ My Website
DarkErotica Blog ~ My Writers' blog

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
Albert Einstein

Mistress_of_words
Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 1:27:03 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 2/14/2011
Posts: 591
Location: At my keyboard, writing stories for you
MorganHawke wrote:
I hate ALL dialogue tags.
-- Yes, dialogue should speak for itself, however, I use Actions to denote who is speaking, not Tags.


Absolutely. I've heard action tags called "beats" elsewhere so that's what I tend to think of them as. I try to avoid using a dialogue tag wherever I can, but where I do feel I need to use one I stick to said, whispered, cried etc. Nothing fancy.

I read somewhere that the sole purpose of a dialogue tag is to identify the speaker. I find that quite a good rule to work to.

Everything in moderation is my motto. Very few things are inherently wrong, but become so when they are overused. Better to utilise every trick in the book a little bit than one trick all the time.

MorganHawke
Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 3:25:18 PM

Rank: First Person Smartass

Joined: 2/8/2011
Posts: 347
Location: The suburbs.
Mistress_of_words wrote:
Absolutely. I've heard action tags called "beats" elsewhere...

Wow... I've never heard that term. Learn something new every day!

Mistress_of_words wrote:
I try to avoid using a dialogue tag wherever I can, but where I do feel I need to use one I stick to said, whispered, cried etc. Nothing fancy.

Different strokes for different folks.
-- Just because "I" loathe something doesn't meant everyone else has to. It's a technique, not a Law.

Mistress_of_words wrote:
I read somewhere that the sole purpose of a dialogue tag is to identify the speaker. I find that quite a good rule to work to.

I just don't like the way dialogue tags clog up the word-count. When you have a seriously tight word-count limit, removing all the "said" tags give you room for description or exposition. Also, if there's a "said" tag, that usually means that All Action has Stopped in the story; the background and sound effects have disappeared. I like to SEE the stories I read, not just listen to people talking.

Mistress_of_words wrote:
Everything in moderation is my motto. Very few things are inherently wrong, but become so when they are overused. Better to utilize every trick in the book a little bit than one trick all the time.


Agreed.

Morgan Hawke
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Purveyor of fine Smut.
DarkErotica.Net ~ My Website
DarkErotica Blog ~ My Writers' blog

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
Albert Einstein

TracyAmes
Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 5:14:24 PM

Rank: Advanced Wordsmith

Joined: 4/8/2011
Posts: 204
Location: Here nor There, United States
If you haven't, will you be posting the 'said' article on Lush? It would change literary lives. Just sayin'My 2 cents

Tracy Ames
Erotic Word Slinger & Smarty Pants
InterracialErotica.net ~ My Website
Rants & Rambles ~ My Youtube Channel

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”
E. L. Doctorow
MorganHawke
Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 5:24:17 PM

Rank: First Person Smartass

Joined: 2/8/2011
Posts: 347
Location: The suburbs.
TracyAmes wrote:
If you haven't, will you be posting the 'said' article on Lush? It would change literary lives. Just sayin'My 2 cents


I already have. Didn't you see the link?

The Secret to Proper Paragraphing & Dialogue
http://www.lushstories.com/forum/yaf_postst15716_The-Secret-to-Proper-Paragraphing-and-Dialogue.aspx

Morgan Hawke
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Purveyor of fine Smut.
DarkErotica.Net ~ My Website
DarkErotica Blog ~ My Writers' blog

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
Albert Einstein

TracyAmes
Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 5:32:01 PM

Rank: Advanced Wordsmith

Joined: 4/8/2011
Posts: 204
Location: Here nor There, United States
I didn't see it! Can we load it into a cannon and fire it across Lushland? lol! Thanks...

Tracy Ames
Erotic Word Slinger & Smarty Pants
InterracialErotica.net ~ My Website
Rants & Rambles ~ My Youtube Channel

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”
E. L. Doctorow
MorganHawke
Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 5:59:47 PM

Rank: First Person Smartass

Joined: 2/8/2011
Posts: 347
Location: The suburbs.
TracyAmes wrote:
I didn't see it! Can we load it into a cannon and fire it across Lushland? lol! Thanks...


LOL! It's kind of hard to miss, I guess. There are three pages of writing tips.

Morgan Hawke
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Purveyor of fine Smut.
DarkErotica.Net ~ My Website
DarkErotica Blog ~ My Writers' blog

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
Albert Einstein

Alexandra_A
Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013 5:49:54 PM

Rank: Active Ink Slinger

Joined: 4/25/2013
Posts: 39
The gleaming two-litre engine throbbed as the vehicle gunned down the black ribbon of tarmac. Courtney pressed her delicious 36, 22, 36 curves firmly into his muscled torso and felt the desert wind sing through flailing tendrils of her blonde hair...

That's all okay for now, but we will reach a point (if not already reached - I see it here all the time) when the first paragraph is a parody of good writing, overly verbose and overflowing with ridiculous amounts of description and action. It looks (to me, at least) ridiculous and desperate; tasteless and tragic.

All society is dumbing down and this is just one example of it. Of Mice and Men, Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Doctor Zhivago... most of Dickens, Conrad... it seems none of these would be published now. We, as educated adults, should be ashamed that we are pandering to the mindless moronic multitude for a quick buck or a second or two of pointless popularity.

Write what you want to write and if no fucker reads it, so what? Be true to yourself. Isn't that what art is all about? There are certainly some great tips here to improve our writing, but appealing to the masses is not necessarily improvement. If it's trashy and formulaic, you're the poor fucker who has to put their hand up and say, ' I wrote that and it's as good as I could get it.'

Then again, if your aim is to write trashy porn and make a couple of quid, go for it. It seems there are a few here who do that quite successfully. And good for them! :)

They screeched into a seedy backwater motel and headed straight for the bar. Crossing her long legs, she sipped her Bloody Mary, wetting her plush crimson lips as she hungrily eyed his swelling crotch.
'This,' thought Blane, 'is going to be one hell of a night!'


"If I sign off with pithy quotations, ignore all preceding opinion for I am undoubtedly a fool. And if, after our discourse, I abuse you by proffering my vulgar produce, cast me into the gutter."
RumpleForeskin
Posted: Saturday, June 29, 2013 10:24:53 AM

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Joined: 7/3/2009
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There is no right or wrong when writing commercial fiction...only effective and ineffective. IMHO, telling your story in a way that appeals to your targeted readership is what seperates authors from writers.

glasses8

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwords. - ROBERT HEINLEIN

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Metilda
Posted: Saturday, June 29, 2013 11:08:43 AM

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Location: United States
I'm a forgiving reader. I will give an author an entire book to draw me in sometimes and if they never pull it off I politely review and can tells why.

I've never judged by the opening line. I read the summary/ synopsis and see if the bask concept interests me. Some of my books I really like to read again and again had fabulous opening lines and chapters - others did not.

The publishing world irritates me sometimes. They're so rigid that some of the best stories I've read online in free publications would never pass their muster. Too many words, too ethereal, too free flowing, too risky, too simple of a concept.

The word limit peeves me off. I've heard that some publishers reject a story based on word count of the completed work alone which seems senseless to me. Don't they intend on working with the author to continue to improve the book?

They just want highly sellable works which explain why a lot if books I've paid for are horrible crap. Their opinion of what good is based on technicalities.

Available as an ebook through All Romance, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and others.
Alexandra_A
Posted: Tuesday, July 02, 2013 12:52:37 AM

Rank: Active Ink Slinger

Joined: 4/25/2013
Posts: 39
RumpleForeskin wrote:
There is no right or wrong when writing commercial fiction...only effective and ineffective. IMHO, telling your story in a way that appeals to your targeted readership is what seperates authors from writers.

glasses8


And whether they live in trees or not separates monkeys from humans. If selling comes first, rather than honesty and self-expression, then we stay in the trees. Money grew the trees: monkeys live in them. We really need to get out and explore the savannah, don't you think?

"If I sign off with pithy quotations, ignore all preceding opinion for I am undoubtedly a fool. And if, after our discourse, I abuse you by proffering my vulgar produce, cast me into the gutter."
RumpleForeskin
Posted: Wednesday, July 03, 2013 6:49:34 AM

Rank: The Right Rev of Lush

Joined: 7/3/2009
Posts: 2,899
Location: Lost in the ozone somewhere east of Luckenbach Tx,
The only unbreakable rule for writing a work intended for the marketplace is: Thou shalt not bore thy reader.

That said, IMHO, 'honesty and self-expression' do not automatically equal dull.

(I'm still working on your Australopithecine analogy. :) )

glasses8

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwords. - ROBERT HEINLEIN

Feels So Right, It Can't Be WrongMore steamy, seductive, straight step-sibling sex, 2-3

FROM:
Becky -- FOR: Matt -- With Love:
a Festive contest winner – honest

HOW HUMANS DO IT: a fish-eye view of sex an Editor's Pick - no kidding
WellMadeMale
Posted: Saturday, July 06, 2013 12:25:19 AM

Rank: Constant Gardener

Joined: 9/30/2009
Posts: 10,289
Location: Cakeland, United States
The only stories I read - on Lush... and I sample three or four a day... are those who have me in the 1st paragraph.

I am a guppy... toss me the lure and hook my upper lip..

You have 3 to 63 seconds to do so.

If ya can't beat 'em... pay someone to do it for you.
adele
Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 9:14:31 AM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 4/8/2011
Posts: 20,668
Location: if I knew where I was then I would not be here...
WellMadeMale wrote:
The only stories I read - on Lush... and I sample three or four a day... are those who have me in the 1st paragraph.

I am a guppy... toss me the lure and hook my upper lip..

You have 3 to 63 seconds to do so.



There once was a wellmademale
Who read many a tale
But in an odd twist of fate
Only considered them great
If his name was mentioned for sale.

giggles.... does this count????

There is no mark of self,
And no mark of others,
No mark of living beings,
And no mark of a life.


-- The Diamond Sutra
WellMadeMale
Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 10:35:12 AM

Rank: Constant Gardener

Joined: 9/30/2009
Posts: 10,289
Location: Cakeland, United States
adele wrote:


giggles.... does this count????


Well Made Gigolo - there is your title - and I approve of and am drawn to your scenario concept. Just flesh it out in 3000 to 5000 words and you may be on to a new series to rival those of the Dancing Doll.

If ya can't beat 'em... pay someone to do it for you.
pentup47
Posted: Monday, September 30, 2013 4:25:19 AM

Rank: Advanced Wordsmith

Joined: 9/3/2013
Posts: 68
Location: United Kingdom
Morgan: Re 'Dialogue Tags'. If it is established that two characters are in conversation - say in a steamy love triste - for how long can dialogue alone be used without tags?

And could you give us an example of a really long, tag-free dialogue that still grips the reader's attention (preferably from one of your own books)?
Marinepilot
Posted: Monday, October 28, 2013 3:03:30 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 9/29/2013
Posts: 309
Location: Somewhere in the rain, United States
Alexandra_A wrote:


And whether they live in trees or not separates monkeys from humans. If selling comes first, rather than honesty and self-expression, then we stay in the trees. Money grew the trees: monkeys live in them. We really need to get out and explore the savannah, don't you think?


You have a gift for analogy!

Marine Pilot
Mazza
Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 2:02:51 PM

Rank: Mazztastic

Joined: 9/20/2012
Posts: 3,040
Location: Scotland, United Kingdom
One of my favourites, which had me hooked right in from the very first line, was from the late Iain Banks' book, The Crow Road.

"It was the day my grandmother exploded"

Aaah, that was a great book...

He's sadly missed, Mr Banks...
Guest
Posted: Friday, November 01, 2013 3:23:12 AM

Rank: Lurker

Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 534,753
When I first started trying to become a writer I knew nothing about the jargon. I used to call the hook, fire. I still do. But it is good to know what other writers call it. I try to make every line have fire aka hook. Every time I write a stroy my first and only goal is bring the fire. Everything else will fall into place. I want to bring so much fire that it makes the reader set the story down and just stand there filled with excitement. They relax and pick the story back up and read some more but the fire is too much, so they get up filled with energy that makes them feel like doing something exciting or important. And that my friends is what I call the fire!
LovingHer17
Posted: Sunday, November 17, 2013 6:52:31 PM

Rank: Advanced Wordsmith

Joined: 8/19/2012
Posts: 67
Location: Miami, United States
MorganHawke wrote:
An Opening HOOK?

-----Original Message-----
"We constantly hear people talk about a hook. I was just wondering, how important is an opening hook? How close to the opening does it have to be? Seriously, how many people pick up a book or story and put it back down after the first sentence or paragraph? Do we have some forgiveness here? I would think that a published, well known author might not need one."
-- Writer in Waiting

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Let’s break this down and tackle each, one at a time.

"I was just wondering, how Important is an Opening Hook?”

How important? Vitally important.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"57% of new books are not read to completion. Most readers do not get past page 18 in a book they have purchased."
--Jerrold Jenkins

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This means you have 4500 words to catch your reader's interest in your story. If you can't grab your reader the moment they open to the first page, your chances of them walking that book to the counter and buying it DROP astronomically.

On a story post site, you have ONE PARAGRAPH to grab your reader's interest enough to read more. If you don't catch them IMMEDIATELY, it's all too easy to click on another title to see if that's more interesting.

Just so you know, most potential readers decide what books they’ll purchase by:

-- Cover Art*
-- Back Cover Blurb
-- Inside Excerpt
-- First Page (first 150 words)
-- Last page (A LOT of buyers will not buy a book with an Unhappy Ending no matter how good the meat of the story is -- especially if that book is marketed as a Romance or EROTICA.)

-- In that order.

If your first page is dull and boring, you’re more or less screwed.

When it comes to story post sites, you don't even have that much. You have your opening paragraph -- that's it. (Which is why author notes at the beginning of a story are a BAD IDEA. Put them at the End.)

*Note on Cover Art: Although it is the first thing assessed by a potential buyer, Cover Art actually carries far less weight in the final purchasing decision than any of the others. Cover Art is merely a tool to catch the eye and make the buyer pick up the book for consideration. Most readers have learned that few covers actually have anything to do with what the book is about, so if the cover art stinks, but the rest is interesting, they’ll buy it.

“How close to the opening does it have to be?”

To GET them reading, your hook should be on the first line of the first page. To KEEP them reading, you should have a hook at the end of every single chapter.

Examples from my books:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kiss of the Wolf

It was so cold…

Her breath steamed from her lips. Naked and shivering, she rose from her crouch. Her long pale brown hair falling over her bare shoulders, and the tall white dog pressed against her side, were her only sources of warmth.

The windowless basement of the abandoned textile factory was thick with shadows. She couldn’t see the walls or ceiling at all. The only light came from the circular design inscribed on the worn plank floor blazing an eerie blue, all the way around them.

She needed to get out of there.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Insatiable

"Might I have your company for the night?"

"Huh?" Elaine glanced up from her belly-down sprawl across the private compartment’s plush banquette sofa. The art deco lamp directly over her was on, but the polished cherry wood walls made the rest of the antique Pullman car very dark. She blinked. Where did he come from?

A tall man in a nearly floor-length black leather coat, stood just inside the deep shadow of her compartment’s door. His hands hung loose at his sides. "Pardon the intrusion." His voice was soft, low, and velvety with a touch of exotic eastern European lilt. He tilted his head toward the closed door. "I did knock, and your door was unlocked."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hungry Spirits

"This historical mansion is supposed to be haunted. Isn't that cool?"

"What?" The rubber soles of Keiko's pink house slippers caught on the antique, red and gold carpet, making her trip. She barely stopped from pitching into the student directly in front of her. With the entire class crammed in the narrow hallway, there was barely enough walking room, never mind room to fall. She turned to her left, and frowned at her classmate. "Tika, did you say, haunted?"

"Yep." Tika smiled, showing the boy-grabbing dimple in the heart of her cheek. The light shining through the warm cream of the rice paper wall, they were walking alongside, gave her oval face a warm glow. "The ghost of an old samurai is supposed to be watching over the family."

Thunder boomed, rattling the rattan frames of the long, rice paper sliding walls on the left.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Seriously, how many people pick up a book or story and put it back down after the first sentence or paragraph? Do we have some forgiveness here?”

Survey says…!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“As a reader I generally give a new book (before I've bought it) the first paragraph to get my interest, sometimes less. I'll almost always put down a book that starts with a description of landscape, as lots of fantasy seem to.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“As a reader, I always open the book to the first page and start reading (in a book shop before I buy the book). If the writing style is awkward or the wording is boring I'll put the book down and keep looking.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Weather report beginnings are a turn off for me. But something subtle, interesting, or thought provoking, in the first paragraph is enough to keep me reading, for a while.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“I'll only grant ‘forgiveness’ to an author who has entertained me in the past, and even then I'm not all that lenient.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Most if not ALL potential buyers have only one interest when buying a book to read: PERSONAL ENTERTAINMENT. If the reader is not grabbed on the first page, your book goes back on the shelf in favor of one that DOES grab them.

The only books allowed to be dull and boring on the first page, are text books designed strictly for education. (They’re expected to be dull and boring.)

“…I would think that a published well known author might not need [a hook]."

Being published and well known does NOT mean that a reader won't put a book down that doesn't interest them, and there are ALWAYS people that have never heard of you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“If a book is going nowhere after initially getting my interest, I'll stop reading, and never pick up another book by that author again.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“If I'm not ‘into’ it after 15 pages I usually give up.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“It's the author's job to keep me interested from the very first line to the very last, because if they can't, there are plenty that can and I'd rather be reading their books.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Never forget! Your book is in direct competition with every other book in that store, therefore you should avail yourself of every trick you can think of to Get that Reader – and then Keep that Reader.

“What is a HOOK anyway?”

Very simply, it’s what makes the reader turn the page. It’s the Mysterious Circumstance, the Precarious Situation, the Horrible Turn of Events, etc. that drives the Reader to Keep Reading to discover: “What will happen NEXT?” More commonly known as: SUSPENSE.

There is a Reason why MYSTERIES are a top selling genre – they keep the reader guessing right up to the last page.

“But I’m not writing a Mystery!”
So what? I don’t write mysteries either, but I do have a Mysterious Circumstance, a Precarious Situation, a Horrible Turn of Events -- a hook -- at the end of every chapter. And I never give anything away until the last possible second.

“But what if I'm writing Literature? They rarely (if ever) have hooks.”
Once upon a time they didn't, (like 10 years or more ago.) They DO NOW or they don't get past the publication editor. A book without an opening hook certainly won't make it past an agent.

These days agents and editors ask for Partial manuscripts, that's 60 pages - 4 chapters - not whole manuscripts. Not a whole lot of room to impress someone. What they DON'T tell you, is if you don't hook them on the First Page, they won't even bother reading the REST of the partial.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Publishers toss Booker winners into the reject pile.
They can’t judge a book without its cover.

Jonathan Calvert and Will Iredale

The Sunday Times, London UK, January 01, 2006
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Publishers and agents have rejected two Booker prize-winning novels submitted as works by aspiring authors. One of the books considered unworthy by the publishing industry was by VS Naipaul, one of Britain’s greatest living writers, who won the Nobel Prize for literature.

The exercise by The Sunday Times draws attention to concerns that the industry has become incapable of spotting genuine literary talent.

Typed manuscripts of the opening chapters of Naipaul’s “In a Free State” and a second novel, “Holiday,” by Stanley Middleton, were sent to 20 publishers and agents. None appears to have recognized them as Booker prizewinners from the 1970s that were lauded as British novel writing at its best. Of the 21 replies, all but one were rejections.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Read the Entire Article:

In Conclusion:
If you expect your manuscript to get past an agent, or a publishing editor, you need to make your story engaging, and compelling to read right from the Opening Line.

If you want to make your READERS ask for More, you you need to make your story engaging, and compelling to read, from Opening Line to the Closing Chapter.

DISCLAIMER: As with all advice, take what you can use and throw out the rest. As a multi-published author, I have been taught some fairly rigid rules on what is publishable and what is not. If my rather straight-laced (and occasionally snotty,) advice does not suit your creative style, by all means, IGNORE IT.


I believe i will learn so much from this.
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