Monday, January 4, 2010

More on Hooks - Writing tip

I usually find my own first line/hook on page 5, then all I have to do is move it up.

As an exercise, pick any 10 books off your shelf and read just the first line. Can you identify the hooks?

With an article, once you find the lead, the rest of the piece will "write itself." When I worked at the newspaper, my own best lead of all time was, "Carl Tauber died three times on Christmas Even and lived to tell about it." The article was about the new city paramedic service and pointed out that had Carl lived 300 yards farther down the road in the county, he'd have died once and stayed that way.

A writer who does unfailingly good transitions and hooks is Dick Francis. My all time favorite opening paragraph of his reads: "I inherited my brother's life. I inherited his gadgets, his business, his mistress...I inherited my brother's life, and it almost killed me."

Now we know it didn't kill him, because he's right there telling the story in first person. But right away we want to know what happened. We are hooked.

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