• Stuart White

Emotional Hooks


I've been doing a LOT of work on structure/openings as part of my mentoring for #WriteMentor recently and wanted to share some of the stuff we've been focussing on, more generally, so it can perhaps helps others, too.

The reason I, and many others, continue reading past the 1st few pages of a novel is simple. Hooks. Sometimes these are weird and wonderful and intriguing. And if you can achieve this in your writing, amazing!

Plant a question, an idea, an object, a quest, or a mysterious situation into those pages and you might get someone to keep reading. But for me, the EMOTIONAL hook is by far the more powerful.

Draw your reader into your story by finding something warm, touching and relatable that the MC really cares about. If the reader can relate, they'll be hooked. They can empathise with the MC and willing to follow them for a few more pages or ideally, 300 pages!

Really work on amplifying this emotion, whatever it is, and the rule for me is - if your MC cares deeply about it, it's more likely your reader will also care. And make sure you start right in the midst of this moment.

The situation should be used to amplify this emotion. CHANGE is key here - start at a point where something the MC really cares about changes. Keywords - emotion, passion, feelings, caring, longing, urgency, change. All of these will hopefully create an Emotional Hook.

I'll give one example - The Hunger Games (YES, I know!!!) Katniss cares most about what? Her sister, of course. So Collins uses that as a way to get us emotionally hooked to the story. First she shows how much Katniss cares - she breaks the law to find her sister food.

On a smaller level, she leaves her to sleep as she leaves. She is gentle, warm and caring towards her sister. This hooks us emotionally, so that when she volunteers in her sisters stead later, we feel the full impact. That whole opening is all about the Emotional Hook.