why your hook sucks

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I'm supposed to be working on other things, my Spotify is stuck so I can't turn off the Deftones in the background, and I'm drinking wine at 4am like a depressed soccer mom. What in the fucking hell is my existence?


The hook. It's either the easiest or hardest thing for a writer to write and figure out. Why? Because it's the thing that instantly sets the story, it's the thing that can either bore a reader and make them slug through your book, or pique their interest and have them invested at every word.

Everyone wants to make a nice first impression, books are no different. It's like going for a job interview, if you show up with a mismatched suit and bad breath, their impression of you isn't going to be great no matter how professional you speak or how qualified you actually are for the position.

So, that intention of a nice first impression sometimes, (or a lot of times) differs majorly from what it actually turned out to be, and most will probably never see the issues. 

Well, what is the issue though?

I've clicked into countless books only to be greeted by usually one or more of these things: The weather, random narrative and rambling, waking up, "it was all a dream", dialogue, backstory/character description, or flashbacks.

I think most of us know why starting your book with your character waking up to an alarm or their mother and getting ready is trash. So is the dream, don't waste your readers' time on a whole scene and get them invested only to say "lolz it was a dream, time to wake up for work/school now here's the real, boring story and nothing interesting happens until chapter 5!", it's an instant erection eraser. Even if you feel the dream is important, (let's be real it's probably not), there are other fewer shit ways to do it.

Flashbacks most of the time are not needed period and writing sites will suggest against using them for many reasons, I won't get into it because that can be a whole rant within itself. But starting a story with a flashback is similar to the dream beginning, except worse. The flashback of your character being assaulted or witnessing a murder is weak and can be done later on in the story assuming it's actually that "important". It doesn't make me feel sad for the character like you intended it.

Starting with a backstory isn't even slightly interesting. It's just a lazy, pathetic info-dump. Backstory should be sprinkled in throughout the story. For my books I typically don't include much of any real backstory in the first and second chapters at all. If you don't know when to include things and when not to, you haven't passed the basic dos and don'ts of writing.

If you start with character descriptions aka "Hi my name is [whatever] and I'm 16 and have long black hair and blah blah blah"? Baby, sweetheart, honey, darling, dear.... no.

Dialogue is rarely interesting, even if you write a supposedly funny line like a lot of people do, you take a huge risk of people not finding it amusing because they don't know the characters. If I open a book and it's a joke about the character doing something, I'm not gonna burst into laughter, piss my pants, puke, gain abs, and shed tears. Besides, the humourous beginning has been done so many times. And forget starting off with some vague, mysterious edgy line, those make me roll my eyes, what're you? Fucking batman? Dialogue just does not hook.

Narrative can be semi-interesting, though 99.9% of the time? It's boring. I don't care about Anna's annoyed and tired rambling about school or Chase's blabbing about memories at every single place he passes in his taxi after getting off of a plane that just landed in his old hometown he hasn't been to in years.

The weather? This is the one most, even actually good authors seem to be tricked by. Writers are tricked into thinking it's fine and readers are too swooned by pretty descriptions to realize, the book just opened by describing the sky. Opening your book with a nice description of the low heavens kissing the lifeless grass and rain steadily falling through the arctic air on a December morning in London might sound nice, but ask yourself, is fog, rain, and cold air really that interesting? Does it get your attention? Does it make you go "Oh shit, what is this? Cause I need more"? Probably not.

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