Don’t forget a good hook at the beginning of your narrative.
The first few lines of any piece of writing are essential because they set the tone and, hopefully, make the reader want to read on. This is known as a ‘hook’.
The first line should leave the reader asking a question.
This question should invite the reader to keep reading. (These techniques can also be used to start your paragraphs)
Here are some techniques for writing hooks and some examples:
Description of character:
Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden. The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace
Description of setting:
The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
Peter crouched over the fire, stirring the embers so that the sparks swarmed up like imps on the rocky walls of hell. Count Karlstein by Phillip Pullman
“I’m going shopping in the village,” George’s mother said to George on Saturday morning. “So be a good boy and don’t get up to mischief.” George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl
Ever had the feeling your life’s been flushed down the toilet? The Toilet of Doom by Michael Lawrence
It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful. Matilda by Roald Dahl
Here are some other famous examples. Identify which one you like and why.
- Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
- It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. – George Orwell
- Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. – James Joyce, Ulysse
- It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. – Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford
- Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. “Stop!” cried the groaning old man at last, “Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree.” – Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans
- It was the day my grandmother exploded. – Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road
- Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress. – George Eliot, Middlemarch
- “Take my camel, dear,” said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass. – Rose Macaulay, The Towers of Trebizond .
- Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there’s a peephole in the door, and my keeper’s eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me. – Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum