Friday, July 12, 2013

"Hooking the Reader" with Brian McBride

Brian McBride is a Christian blogger, writer, and published author of a high fantasy novel geared toward the young-adult crowd. He is a musician, an artist, and an amateur photographer. He has recently started his third novel in The Starcrafters' Saga and is editing the second. He writes fantasy, horror, dystopian, and science fiction of all sorts. You can find him on Facebookhis blogTwitter, and Goodreads.

    Hey, guys! Welcome to my first post on YA Writers Alumni (YAWA for short). This month’s theme is “Hooking the Reader” and today that is exactly what I am talking about. So stick with me as I examine some elements to be used as a great hook for your story’s reader.
    What do I mean by “hooking the reader”? Well, you want your story to be so interesting that the reader cannot help but continue to read. S/he is like a fish who is drawn to the bait.

    Hook the fish. And here’s some tips as to how:
      1.      Write an Interesting Opening.
    When you are beginning a novel, one of the first things you want to be sure to do is create an interesting first line. The first line is usually the portion of the story that sets the pace for the rest of it.
    Your goal, when writing a “first” of any sort (preface, prologue, chapter, line, etc…) is to draw the reader into your world. You want to show them that your story is worth reading. You want to keep them turning the pages.
    Example A) Justin ran into the room.
    Kind of boring, eh? Sometimes the very first line can be ordinary, while the rest of the first paragraph expounds on it. A lot of the time, it takes an entire paragraph to draw the reader in. And that’s fine. It’s the very beginning that you want to use to interest the reader, because that’s the first thing they’ll see when they pick it up off of the store’s shelves and flip through it.
    Example B) Justin raced through the house. he tripped over the door’s threshold just as the sinister, faceless figure grasped at his long hair.

2.      Use a Preface/Prologue.
    There are times, however, when the first chapter isn’t interesting enough, and you must try to find another way to capture the reader. Because that is what this is about, right? “Capturing the reader”?
    In my novel, Paradox, I begin with a preface. I took the opportunity in the preface to tell, instead of show. That’s fine. The preface is the portion of a story where the prior incidents are explained. If you have bought my novel, and have started it, then you may know what I mean.
    One could even use the preface by copying an enthralling excerpt from another area in their story and placing it (in italics, usually) in the place where the preface would go. Many novels use this to capture the reader’s interest. It gives the promise of intrigue and interest.

3.      Write In-Depth Descriptions.
    If you don’t write action/adventure, fantasy, or sci-fi, then you may be wondering how on this earth you are supposed to capture your reader’s interest with a contemporary romance. Well, this can be tricky.
    Contemporary romance usually does not contain action and adventure, but that does not mean that it is impossible to capture one’s interest. You still want some sort of conflict to take place in your story, because that is what makes a story interesting. The aforementioned examples can be used in this area as well. Example A is not descriptive, it tells you nothing, and it does nothing to capture your interest. Example B, on the other hand, is intriguing, sinister, adventurous, dangerous. It makes you worried for the MC; it compels you to read more. Example B could be used in many genres. It could be a burglar in a contemporary romance, it could be an alien in a sci-fi, it could be a monster in a fantasy. There are many ways that you can capture your reader’s interest.
    And it almost always centers around description.

4.      Use Dialogue.
    Dialogue is extremely essential to a great story. You cannot skimp out on it. If 
you lack dialogue, your story will start to tilt in the direction of telling instead of 
showing. Often times, dialogue is used to explain, or to answer questions, 
without bringing the story to an abrupt halt.
    If used masterfully, explanatory dialogue is not dumbed-down, but is intriguing.
    I have been told by many, that they love my use of dialogue in Paradox. I 
added even conversation, to give my characters a 3D effect. You don’t want your 
MCs to only ever talk about danger and pain; you want them to laugh, to smile, to fall 
in love, to tell people their hopes, fears, dreams, to go to parties, to live life. You 
are, after all, trying to create a story that realistically portrays humanity, right?
    Dialogue moves the story along without boring the reader.
    Dialogue is critical. Period. You cannot opt out.

Well, there is my first post! Four points on “hooking the reader”. Hang in there with the other admins and I as we kick-start YAWA and continue on the month of July’s theme “Hooking the Reader”.

    Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you again on Monday!


  1. Great post.

    I have a question about an alternative way to hook the reader.

    Would you consider an appeal to the esoteric to be effective in drawing in the reader, or an easy way to get them to shut the book?

    Example: "The honey-soaked smile the cashier flashed Karen matched Matt Sabre's exactly."

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
      Haha... You brought up a form that shall be discussed in part two of this series. ;) Stay tuned!