Tuesday, June 15, 2010

BRAINS...arg! The Ultimate Hook


 I mean, who wouldn’t? You nurture a yard of flowers to yield maximum sunlight, and “pea”-shoot the heads off of zombies who want to “EAT YOUR BRAINS”. I never would have bought the game. That was my husband’s brilliant idea—to consume my precious few writing hours with brainless entertainment. And it worked. (See my wisdom tree? Isn’t it amazing?)

Back on topic, think of this: Zombies only want one thing: brains. Give them hope of a fresh, juicy gray matter, and no barrier will keep them away—even “expodinating” cherries.

As every good writer knows, the first 250 words are the most important.

Yeah, whatever. I read the stuff out there. Don’t you? Honest truth is you have 1 to 5 sentences to get that juicy cerebrum under your zombie’s nose. I don’t give a writer longer than a paragraph. How long do you think agents allow? Publishers?
Commercials are 15 to 30 seconds. Translate that to reading time. Yes, verbally read the beginning of your story out loud—as if you were reading to an audience. (Meaning, no micro-machine-man-ning it. Sorry Micro Machine Man.) How far did you get? Well, now you have a pretty good idea how long your reader will give you before closing the book and setting it back on the shelf.

So, you got your hook. The arcade explodes as the main character martial-arts a bad guy WHILE flying a stealth plane.


I recently finished reading a great book. Hooked. Your beginning does not need to be the biggest, baddest, most exciting thing on the face of the planet. In fact, it better not be. Save that for the climax—near the end, please. Instead, take a cue from Plants vs. Zombies.  

It starts out with a single line of grass to defend. Your heart pounds as that first zombie appears. You dread that the only peashooter you can afford will not be enough to knock off his head. In that instant, the moment is as tense as it comes. Of course, several levels later you look back and chuckle. Level 1-1 has nothing on 5-6.

Likewise, our conflict—introduced in that hook will build and eventually turn into an all out assault of zombies on our poor, unprotected house. Be confident enough in your storyline to save the explosion for the appropriate moment.

The hook can be subtle. It can be in your face. BUT, whatever it is, it had better make the reader say, "Mmmm…brains."


  1. Excellent post! I've actually just rewritten my beginning (and posted on my site if you're curious) and I think it's much ..hookier *lol*



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