Sunday, May 18, 2014
We're writers, and as members of that fragile but strong as a strand of hair, we support one another in any way we can. Some time ago, I mentioned I'd given my women's fiction manuscript to a trusted friend for review and feedback. Doing that was an unusual (and brave) step for me. I don't put myself out there very often, not out of arrogance, but more out of fear.
What if it's too terrible to talk about? What if she rolled her eyes on every page? What if I've fallen into the traps that I so often tell other writers not to slip into - cliches, trite language, telling instead of showing? What if I'm simply not good enough to call myself a writer? Being naked and vulnerable is not something I do well. Being a Cancer, I tend to cover the mush up with armor and carry on as if the world weren't crumbling around me, all the while the mush is sloshing around inside. It was a hard three or four weeks waiting for word.
My friend came back to me with her comments. She also asked her editor to review the first five pages. Both of them said the same thing, independent of each other - needs a hook. There must be a reason for the reader to read on. The editor said she suspected something juicier was coming later on but as yet, she wasn't sure what it would be.
The hook, the compelling reason for the story. What will bring the reader into your world. I thought about it as I vacuumed, I pondered in the shower, driving to work, rehearsing words and thoughts over and over again until it might magically appear. I took my first character, Julie, down to the studs, made her talk to me. It's not there yet but I'm working on it.
Feedback is essential for a writer. The feedback I received from my friend and her editor was mindful that there is a person behind the words on the page. They're both pretty no nonsense but not without heart, and that was helpful for me.
How do you hook your reader? Do you ask a question? Do you make a compelling statement? What are your thoughts on the hook?