Monday, April 10, 2017

Hook the Reader using the Narrative Hook

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Have you noticed how certain books hook us to it right from the first line or chapter? The author cleverly lays out interesting tidbits from the story capturing our interest.

Take, for example, these lines from the first book in the Harry Potter series.

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
-(excerpt from Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone by J. K Rowling)

What do they convey to the reader?
It hints that something is not definitely normal about them. Many questions emerge in the mind of the reader.
  • Who are these Dursleys?
  • Why are they pretending to be normal which they are perhaps not?
  • What is about to happen?

You can see how a single sentence created a hook that is definitely going to make the reader turn the pages. This literary technique is called as the narrative hook or simply the hook.

The best way to create a narrative hook is to pique the curiosity of the reader right from the beginning. You can begin the narrative with a funny advice, an interesting anecdote, a bold statement or a contradictory statement which would catch the attention of the reader.

Some readers, like me, read to enjoy the beauty of narration. If it begins with a sentence or paragraph that is beautifully written, the book quickly catches my attention.

Some authors make the first chapter of the book so interesting that the reader is curious. What will happen to the characters now? How will this dilemma be solved?

Check my post about magnificent first sentences and paragraphs examples from literature. You can see that they are excellent narrative hooks. They raise many questions in the mind of the reader.

Look at these lines from the final book of the Harry Potter series.

The two men appeared out of nowhere, a few yards apart in the narrow, moonlit lane.
~ (excerpt from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K Rowling)

 When the reader reads these lines, he immediately wants to know who these men are? Being a series, they would want to know what roles are they going to play in the book. Further descriptions answer these questions but keep on raising further questions.

The narrative hook works best when it is spread throughout the book raising questions that will make the reader think. Sometimes a single sentence can do the trick but sometimes an entire chapter brings together various facets of a story that grips the interest of the reader.

When you read a book next time, look out for such narrative hooks. 

During this A-Z April Challenge, I am exploring the A-Z journey of writing a Novel with examples from Literature.
The Letter of the day is H

Linking this post  to Blogging from A-Z

Have you read the Letters A, B, C, D, EF, G?


  1. You are keeping us all hooked with your alphabet challenge! I want to know what's next!

    1. Suspense! You have to wait till tomorrow to know what it is :D
      Thank you for reading, Niranjan.

  2. Isn't that your strong point and something that I need to learn? ;)

    1. Is it? You should tell. Your hook is your ability to touch the sentiments of the reader. I love that.

  3. Thank you for reading. Off to visit your post.

  4. A great hook is so important in capturing a reader and involving them in the story. It makes the difference between someone who will buy your book and someone who goes to the next one.
    A good tip to remember is to revisit your hook after the story is written. The story might have changed, so the hook will have to be rewritten to lead the reader better into the story.
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. I think hooks are a writer's very personal hell. True, the hook is a very important part of the story, but it's so damn hard to pin it down. But when you do, you'll be able to grab the reader's attention and most of your initial work will be done.
    I wish there were a sicret formula for hooks ;-)

    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

    1. I wish too so that I can become a expert story writer.Thank you for reading Sarah Zama.

  6. Hooking the reader sounds great, Preethi.
    But hooking in case of certain other activities, isn't that respectable :)

    1. Hahaha...Anita! You are incorrigible. :D
      Thanks for reading :)

  7. Great tips! I tend to think of hooks as coming at the beginning of chapters but this makes it clear they can be judiciously placed anywhere.

    1. I have read books where each chapter began with a hook. Mostly thrillers adopt that I think. You just can't keep them down. Thanks for reading :)

  8. Okay, now I am hooked to learning the master of hooking the readers - even on my blogs.
    Tina Basu
    Twinkling Tina Cooks

  9. I remember reading somewhere that a book hooks you in the first 3 seconds or it doesn't, so I know what you mean. Great tip this, Preethi!

  10. You can take help with report writing. Technical writing is different from creating other types of documents.