Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Let's Go Fishing . . . for Story Beginnings (Part 1)

Let's Go Fishing . . . for Story Beginnings! (Part 1)

 If you have ever gone fishing, there is one thing you know right away. If you want to catch a fish, you have to carry the right equipment: a fishing pole, a hook, and (most importantly) decent bait like salmon eggs, flies, spinners, worms, or herring. Every fisherman knows he can't hook a fish using the wrong bait . . . or dried-up bait . . . or worse--no bait at all! You won't catch a 30-pound salmon with a worm, nor will you catch a little rainbow trout with a dead herring.

Writing stories is a lot like fishing. You need to use the right kind of "bait" to hook a particular reader. Next, the question arises: When do I catch my reader? Answer: On the very first few pages of your story! Just like a fisherman carefully chooses his bait to snag a fish, you, the author, must hook your reader with a slam-bang beginning. Once you catch your reader, you can reel him or her in with your real-life characters and your excellent use of "showing" and not "telling."

Just like there are different kinds of bait for different kinds of fish, and author can use different techniques to capture the reader's interest. I have found 7 kinds of writing "bait" that work well:

1. Action
2. Dialogue
3. An Unusual Setting
4. A Thought or Feeling
5. A Question
6. An Interesting Character
7. A Sound Effect

Below are Seven Ways to Hook Your Reader and an example of how each is used. You can right click and "save as" to print it out. You may need to enlarge it in order to read it easier.
(from Reach for the Stars, young author's fiction workbook by Susan K. Marlow. 
See sidebar if you would like to buy the workbook and see all the writing lessons!)

Part 2 coming later this week . . . with a chance to "Guess the Hook" and share!

1. Look through some of your favorite books and see if you can figure out which "hook" the author used to reel you into his/her book.
2. Find a book or two that you just could not get interested in. Did they use any of the hooks above? 
Share your answers in the comments!
(Thanks, Anne, for asking me to write this post.)
Go to PART 2

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  1. COOL! THANK YOU!!! I think I will go fishing right now!

  2. Thank You!!! That was very helpful!!! (and really cool!)

    -Sarah Beth-

  3. Hehe, I remember this lesson! :D It was so fun! :D

    -Calamity Rene

  4. I LOVE Let's Write posts!!!!!!!!

  5. Wow!!! Thanks sooooo much!!! This helped a lot!!!


Let Andi know what you think!