by Molly Noble Bull
The first sentence of a novel should grab the reader’s attention instantly. We call this a beginning hook. The beginning hook should introduce a problem or reveal something about the main character. Can you spell provocative?
Think of this one sentence as a headline, book title, or chapter title. The one sentence can ask a question, and the shorter the better.
. If you absolutely can't come up with a headline, write the first line of a dialogue. But that first line of dialogue MUST be interesting, causing the reader to want to read more in order to find out what is going on and what will happen next.
Below are some examples.
She'd seen him again.
(This opening came from The Rogue’s Daughter—one of my published novels.)
Was he dead?
Where was Sally?
Why did he come here after all these years?
What does he think he was doing?
A bang broke the quiet of the small library.
Was someone following her?
NOTE: YOU CAN NAME A CHARACTER IN A BEGINNING DIALOGUE. BUT DON'T NAME YOUR MAIN CHARACTER IN A HEADLINE. NAME HIM OR HER IN SENTENCE TWO.
"I'm not marrying him, Father." Melissa North turned toward the door. "If you try to force me to, I'll run away."
"He's the murderer, and he knows I know." Jane Scopes pulled her suitcase from the top shelf and carried it to the bed. "I'm leaving."
"I'm taking the next stagecoach out of Tombstone—whether you like it or not."
I would like to propose a challenge. Write a beginning hook of only one sentence for either a prologue or a chapter one and post it at the end of this article as a comment. I will comment on your hooks.