Writer Basics: The Hook and The Line

19 Feb

No matter what technological changes occur in the publishing industry, good writing is still what an editor needs to see and what makes a reader choose to pick up another book by that same author. A veteran editor once told me she usually made a decision about a manuscript’s marketability by page 3, but a great hook could get her to hang in there for the whole first chapter.

I am very proud of the fact that one of my hooks made its way into several seminars and at least one how-to-write book that I know of. The following is the first line of my steamy revenge thriller, PRETTY MAIDS IN A ROW –

“Mizz Wallace, did you, or did you not, willingly take Senator Ziegler’s penis into your mouth on more than one occasion?”

* * * *

Of course, the real trick is to get that editor to keep on reading beyond the end of Chapter One. This is where The Line (or two) comes in. Basically it’s a hook at the end of a chapter to ensure the reader keeps turning those pages.

Here are a few of the chapter endings, in no particular order, from the same book –

* * * *  Stretching luxuriously, she felt Jerry stir beside her. As she did first thing every morning, she reached for her glasses and switched on the lamp. Holly turned back to wake her future husband with a kiss, and froze.

The dark-haired man lying naked in her bed was a complete stranger.

* * * * A week ago, she had never even heard of the Little Sister Society. Now, a group of virtual strangers could connect her to a violent murder.

* * * * “You see?” He whispered the words against her mouth. “I can be nice. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

She raised her lashes and met his gaze. They both knew just how wrong he was.

* * * *  There was no turning back now. She would be David Wells’ mistress…and he would be her instrument of revenge.

* * * *  David saw Butch’s bullet-ridden body as he stepped over the threshold. But he also glimpsed two agents pressed flat against the walls on each side of him.

“Shit!” was the last thought he had before all hell broke loose.

* * * *  If it was the last thing he did, he would make Wells regret the day he tried to steal Philip Sinkiewicz’s woman.

* * * *  Philip kissed the top of her head. “You’re all I have, honey. I’d do anything for you.”

 So, fellow writers and readers, what are some of your favorite hooks and lines?

 And by the way, if I’ve tempted anyone into reading the rest of PRETTY MAIDS IN A ROW, thank you for the support – Buy Link

 Happy creating,

Marilyn Campbell, www.marilyncampbell.com

facebook: AuthorMarilynCampbell; twitter: marilyncampbel3

9 Responses to “Writer Basics: The Hook and The Line”

  1. mywithershins February 19, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    I loved those cliffhangers, Marilyn, and that first line was a doozie! It’s no wonder it made its way into a seminar!

    I have a tendency to leave readers hanging at the end of chapters, too, although nothing quite as provocatively as you! I write YA fiction and feel the way to propel kids from beginning to end is by leaving them wanting more at the end of each chapter – sometimes even the middle of a chapter. Since I know my work best, I can quickly choose which cliffhangers to share, so here are a couple of the best ones from ‘Withershins’:

    …Don’t ask me why I went along with this crazy scheme. Maybe I just wanted to show him I wasn’t chicken. Whatever the reason, it changed my life forever…

    …As a wolf howled in the distance, I shuddered, wondering what lay ahead…

    ‘Pretty Maids’ has piqued my interest. I might just pick up a copy. 🙂

    • Marilyn Campbell February 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

      Great chapter endings Mywithershins! Thank you for sharing.

  2. shannonemmel February 19, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Loved “Prety Maids”…AND “See How They Run”…
    and “Eye Witness” by Kennedy Vance (aka Marilyn Campbell )

    For anyone who likes erotic suspense/thrillers… Marilyn Campbell IS your girl!


  3. Gail Deyoung February 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Hey, Marilyn!

    Thanks for sharing your start of “Pretty Maids in a Row” (loved that book!) and some of the chapter hooks you put in there. To those who are new to the craft, it probably appears easy, but it really does take some thinking to make sure you’ve lured your reader into the next chapter. You’ve mastered the hook and that’s why I love reading your stories.

    I did a blog about hooks last September because I love the way I get pulled into a story that I can’t put down. It’s a great topic and one that can be revisited again and again.

  4. incaunipocrit February 21, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Reblogged this on ATA MOTEK.

  5. Madison February 22, 2012 at 7:39 am #

    I agree with having a hook at the end of the chapter. The favorite from my book, According to Plan,was…”Glad to see you still have your tattoo.”
    Nice blog, and I must admit, these were all great hooks. Shall find this book, and check it out.

    • Marilyn Campbell February 22, 2012 at 8:37 am #

      Thanks Madison. Now I want to know what that tatt looked like and why she/he got it!

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