Friday, August 7, 2015

H is for Hooks

Margaret talks about hooking your reader


Hooks are something which ensures readers keep turning the pages. Hooks are intended to drag you cunningly into the story to such an extent that you never want to put the book down. We don’t consciously know that we’re being hooked in, but we are. We’ve all read books that have led us far into the night because the story is irresistible.


So, exactly what is a hook? It can be a number of things. For instance it could be a tempting piece of information on the very first page that makes you want to know what has happened to the character in the past. Or what is going to happen. Or what is happening. And then, because it’s already attracted your interest, you keep on reading until you meet the next tempting hook and so on.


Here is how I began The Santorini Marriage Bargain:


Rhianne heard the screech of brakes before she saw the car. By then it was too late. Lost in her own world of misery she had not thought to look before she stepped off the pavement. Urged on by the front fender of the car, she spun across the road and for a few moments lay curled in blessed silence. It was as though everything in the whole world had stopped. No traffic noise, no voices, no birds singing. Nothing except a strange calm. She wasn’t even hurting.

Then came the voice. A deep, gruff, male voice. “Why the hell didn’t you look where you were going?


Further on in the same book is another hook:


“So you’re telling me that if you’re not married when your father dies, then everything goes to your lazy brother? And you think that would be the end of the business?”

He nodded. “I’m sure of it.”

“And you’ve only just been told this?” Her brows rose dramatically. “Why?”

“Because my parents didn’t want me to marry purely for the sake of the business. They wanted me to marry for love.”

The full import of what he was saying began to sink in.

“And they think you and I – are…”

Zarek nodded.


I ended the chapter here – with a hook that hopefully tempted the reader to move on to the next chapter. I love books where, although you’ve promised yourself you’ll finish the chapter and put it down, you simply can’t resist reading on to find out what happens next.










  1. Hooks definitely are the things that keep a reader turning pages.

    With your example, I was pulled right into your story. Starting in the middle of the action is always a good way to go.

    You also bring up an important point. Hooks aren't just for the beginning of a story. Most chapters will end with some type of hook, encouraging the reader to flip the page instead of put the bookmark in!

    1. Glad you agree, Debra. I think sometimes we do these things automatically without realising they are hooks. But for someone who is beginning to write they are a necessary tool.

  2. I need to remember to create more short-term hooks, to keep the reader moving from chapter to chapter and scene to scene. I have a much easier time with the longer term story arcs.

    1. I think sometimes we need gentle reminders. We can get far too blasé about our work.

  3. Great post, Margaret. Those hooks are so important. I try to end each chapter with a hook - and I'm always delighted when a reader tells me she couldn't put one of my books down, and/or that she carried on reading until 2 in the morning!

  4. I can imagine your delight, Paula. Our readers might not know they are tricks of the trade, but we certainly do.

  5. Chapter 1 first paragraph /page hooks are essential--and so hard to write, IMO. I'm better at chapter end hooks.
    But short term hooks are definitely something I need to remember.
    Great post!

  6. I also try to end each chapter with a hook. Best way to keep readers engaged.

    1. We're on the same wavelength, Joanne. It sometimes means chapters are of a different length. I do try to keep mine fairly even though it's not always possible.