Thursday, August 16, 2012

Getting Hooked - It's Not Just About Fishing

The most critical thing a writer has to do is quite basic. You have to convince someone that they need to read your story. This is what is referred to as a hook, or a narrative hook if you want to technical about it. 
Creating one is not so easy. Mostly because you don’t have a lot of time to get a reader interested. I know that's the way I am as a reader you got to get me quick, or I'm moving on.
So what is a narrative hook anyway? 
A famous storyteller who had to keep her audience “hooked” was Scheherazade from One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights). She has to keep a king interested, or hooked, by telling him stories in order to avoid execution. Now that’s motivation for you. Thankfully writers don’t have it that bad these days. At least I hope not.
However one of the best examples in a cozy mystery I’ve ever read came from Agatha Christie. This particular tale featured the amateur detectives Bobby Jones and Lady Frances Derwent, or as her friends call her, Frankie, Never heard of them? Well that’s because they were only in this one book and I think it’s one of her best. Sorry Hercule and Miss Marple.
Here’s how she hooks you. A dying man is found by two golfers, one (Bobby Jones) stays with him while his golf partner goes for help.  As he waits, the dying man opens his eyes and says, "Why didn't they ask Evans?" Then he dies.
Got you interested? I know it did me.
That one line, which is also the title of the book, got me totally fascinated.  As it not only posted the question of whom the victim was and why was he murdered, but WHO THE HECK IS EVANS?  That question drove me crazy, and I think I wanted to know that more who done it. 
Of course there are many methods writers use to hook their readers. A dramatic moment, such as finding a dead body (a mystery favorite), making it clear to the reader that they will need to follow the story all the way through to understand what is going on, or a story within a story just to name a few. Our jobs are to make it a good one, and don't worry, it won't hurt a bit.

Mystery writer C.L. Ragsdale is the author of The Reboot Files a Christian Mystery Series. A California native, she loves to "surf" the web to research plot details for her fun, quirky stories with just a bit of whopper in them. She has a degree in Theatre Arts which greatly influenced her writing style. Working in various fields as a secretary has allowed her to both master her writing skills and acquire valuable technical knowledge which she uses liberally in her plots. She loves to embroider and knit and is a big fan of the old Scooby Doo cartoons.
Current E-Books
THE REBOOT FILES:  The Mystery of Hurtleberry House, The Island of Living Trees, The Harbinger of Retribution, and The Wrong Ghost.


  1. Makes me want to read the book to find out about Evans!

    Deborah Malone
    "Death in Dahlonega"


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