Today I would like to invite you to take a little trip with me, sooooooo let’s go fishing in the writer’s stream. When you write you are always told that you need to have a HOOK to draw in the readers. Let’s go from there and start with the HOOK, then we will look at the LINE and finally the SINKER

Of course we will need the BAIT as well. And let’s not forget the BASKET to bring it on home. LET’S BEGIN.

What is a hook? Well, the hook of a good story starts with the first line. (sometimes the first line might be only two or three words, or it might become your first paragraph) Did you know that some book publishers’ readers might only read the first line of a submitted manuscript? Or maybe just the first paragraph? If you’re lucky they will read the first page, or the first few pages. So you had better be giving all that you’ve got in order to hook a reader in. 

So start with that FIRST LINE. The one you are going to write and rewrite and rewrite a few more times until you think you have it right. It has to be stunning. It has to reel the reader right into the story. Then you have to follow that with a stunning sinker. The first paragraph and even the next few, right on down to the end of the first page. The words that are going to SINK your readers right into the book, make them so comfortable that they won’t want to do anything else except read your book.

Did we forget the LINE? This is where you string out the words, and they better be in perfect order and not all jangled up. You know what happens when you mess up the line, you won’t catch anything.

Give your reader a smooth flowing line. Take them on a journey they won’t soon forget. Let them breathe with your characters, laugh with them, cry with them, be shocked with them, and hopefully in the end, be satisfied with them.

The BAIT is of course the beginning hook and the following paragraphs where the readers will immediately have all kinds of questions flow into their heads. Who is this character and why is she acting like that? Why is he so sad? Why is he so scared? How did anyone get into such a predicament anyway? Or any one of a number of immediate questions that might come to mind.

When one writes an article for a newspaper or a magazine, there are rules to follow. For one thing, an enticing title,(which tells the whole story in a nut shell) followed by a short blurb of the complete story, without all the details. After that a writer will begin to write the five W’s. When did it happen, where did it happen, why did it happen? What happened? Who did it happen to? And then there is the how. How did it happen? Of course that can be classified under the what happened part. You don’t necessarily have to write these five W's in that particular order or in any particular order. If you did that for every article they would become stagnant and boring.

Much the same thing will happen in a novel. But you will have many pages more to describe and explain your story. And you will do it in a different writing form. But even an article should be entertaining in order to keep a reader’s interest. One of my favourite types of articles to write is the personal interest story.

Now I could start talking about the Need in a story. How you start out with a character who needs or wants something, so now they have to figure out how to get what they want. But that would lead us into Motivation and that’s a whole nother post.

So I will keep to the subject at hand and continue on with the BASKET. You might wonder what a basket has to do with writing. This is my take on a basket of writing. So you’ve created a nice hook and an interesting first few pages or first chapter to entice your readers to read on. And then you add the nice words (the line) and you sink your reader in. You hope they will take the bait now so you’ve given them opportunity to think about all kinds of possible questions that might arrive in their mind. You let them sit a spell and read peacefully, contentedly, much like a fisher sitting on the bank of a stream, with the line in the water and the bait dragging below attracting a crowd of fish (they hope) so they can bring it on home.

So after you have created all this and you have the readers right where you want them, (this is a fine craft and sometimes takes many years to prefect) you begin reeling them in. They are into the story, they know some of the answers to some of their questions, they know the motivation of the characters and what drives them on. They are coming down the home slope and this is where you toss in the basket, where you tie up all the lose ends and give your readers some kind of satisfactory ending. 

You have put all your eggs in the basket now and your readers have sampled all of them. You have laid out everything; you have bared your soul to your readers. You have journeyed with them and all of your little tricks are now in the basket and they have seen them all. You’ve brought them all home. You’ve put everything in your basket of writing and placed it in their hands.

I enjoyed this little fishing trip. I hope you did. It’s something to think about when you write or even when you read. Some readers actually enjoy analyzing what they read. Happy Writing and Reading everyone.

Copyright 2012 by Carol Marlene Smith

Carol Marlene Smith is an author and artist living in Nova Scotia, Canada. She has five published novels and a number of short stories. She loves to write about The Positive Power of Writing on her blog at www.carolmarlenesmith.blogspot.com


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