Narrative Hooks

HookMake Them Worry or Make Them Wonder

The first few lines of a story are the writer’s chance to grab the reader’s attention.

People are curious creatures. If you can get us asking questions about what’s going on or what’s going to happen next, we will keep reading!

Below are some possibilities based on lists found online that may give you a starting place. It’s not unusual for writers to mix

Narrative hook Example
Shock Them – Grab the reader’s attention with something weird or surprising. ‘As Mrs Ebbel went over the correct answers with the class, Bradley took out his pair of scissors and very carefully cut his test paper into tiny squares.’

There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom – Louis Sachar.

‘I disappeared on the night before my twelfth birthday.’

Kensuke’s Kingdom – Michael Morpurgo

Puzzle Them – Set mysteries that the reader really wants to solve. ‘Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening Hall, taking care to keep to one side, out of sight of the kitchen.’

Northern Lights – Philip Pullman

Speak to Them – Make your reader sit up by talking right to them! (Especially cool if you have something shocking to say). ‘True! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?’

The Tell-Tale Heart – Edgar Allan Poe

Set the Scene: Describe the place so that they feel like they’re really there! ‘A cold, wet day in December. The worst kind of day for the backlands. The clouds were so low they seemed to trail their mists in the treetops and already, at half past three it was dark within the forest.’

The Giant Under the Snow – John Gordon

In the middle: Start in the middle of a dangerous or emotional moment!

A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man’s hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck.

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
Ambrose Bierce

Make Them Laugh:  Humor can work as well as a surprise to get the reader involved. ‘When Bill Simpson woke up on Monday morning, he found he was a girl. He was standing, staring at himself in the mirror, quite baffled, when his mother swept in.

‘Why don’t you wear this pretty pink dress?’ she said.’

Bill’s New Frock – Anne Fine

Most of the examples and many of the general concepts posted here originate in online material found in places like the following:

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