Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Hook

''To be or not to be? That is the question.Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer....'
David Tennant as Hamlet
As an opener they don't come much better than Hamlet. Although 'If music be the food of life, play on give me excess if it' is a pretty close second. Shakespeare had the whole first paragraph thing nailed. Centuries ago he knew, instinctively, that if a writer doesn't hook the reader within those vital few words she is danger of being lost forever.
As Bill's brilliance knocks on the door of my sub-conscious with every word I write I question myself, 'Is this boring?' 'Have I just lost another precious reader?'...shush, that was rhetoric!

There are some amazing openers, those already quoted above but how about 'Marley was dead, to begin with'. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Or, 'It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.' 1984 By George Orwell? Both suggesting intrigue and grabbing the reader very firmly by the short and curlies from the very first sentence.

Writing my own novel I have absolutely no idea how i'm getting on. So I set myself a challenge, I read as many first paragraphs as I could manage in one hour and then went back to my writing from some weeks ago and took a long, hard and analytic look at my own. Wow, you really could waste some paper in this game....thank the lord for technology and the delete button!

Anyway, several attempts later and this is what I have come up with as an opening paragraph.....

'As a child I wondered how someone could slip off the edge of the world, no note. How they could be there and then not. Be missed, then not. How the world you lived in just yesterday is unrecognisable today. The wound they left heals and no one mentions them again. At least ‘no one in their right mind’.

Would you be lured in and want to find out what is happening?