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Fiction Writing: Opening Lines

All great stories start with an opening line or lines that pull the reader into the story. A hook is the opening sentence or paragraph of a story that captures the reader’s attention and makes them want to read more. A good hook should intrigue, surprise, or challenge the reader. It should also establish the tone, genre, and main conflict of the story. A hook is essential for any fiction writer who wants to hook their readers from the start and keep them engaged until the end.

How do you write a hook for your fiction story? Here are some tips and examples to help you craft a powerful hook:

  • Start with a statement that reveals something about your character, setting, or situation. For example, “The first thing you should know about me is that I’m a murderer.” (The Stranger by Albert Camus) This statement immediately raises questions in the reader’s mind: Who is the narrator? Who did they kill? Why did they do it? How do they feel about it?

  • Start with a description that creates a vivid image or atmosphere in the reader’s mind. For example, “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” (1984 by George Orwell) This description sets the scene for a dystopian novel and hints at the unusual and oppressive nature of the world the characters live in.

  • Start with an anecdote that shows your character in action or reveals something about their personality or background. For example, “When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.” (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins) This anecdote introduces the protagonist, Katniss, and shows her poverty, loneliness, and survival skills.

  • Start with a question that piques the reader’s curiosity or challenges their assumptions. For example, “What if I told you I was a liar?” (We Were Liars by E. Lockhart) This question invites the reader to question the reliability of the narrator and the truth of the story.

  • Start with a quote that relates to your theme, genre, or message. For example, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen) This quote introduces the theme of marriage and social class in a humorous and ironic way.

  • Start with a dialogue that reveals something about your character, plot, or conflict. For example, “You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter.” (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain) This dialogue establishes the voice and perspective of the narrator, Huckleberry Finn, and refers to the previous book by the same author.

  • Start with a paradox that contradicts common sense or expectations. For example, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” (Animal Farm by George Orwell) This paradox exposes the hypocrisy and corruption of the animals’ revolution and foreshadows their downfall.

  • Start with a cliffhanger that creates suspense or tension. For example, “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” (The Gunslinger by Stephen King) This cliffhanger introduces the main characters and their conflict and makes the reader wonder what will happen next.

A good hook can make your good story a great one by capturing your reader’s attention from the start and keeping them hooked until the end.

Happy writing!

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