The importance of The Hook in writing cannot, I think, be overstated. Maybe in our great-grandparents' time there was less to distract people from their slow-moving books, but today there is Twitter, and I feel like that's the only example I need to mention.
For the non-writers who are reading this, first of all, hello! Second, it's nice of you to humor me by reading a thing about writing which you might not even care about. And third, The Hook is the piece that comes hopefully early on and "hooks" you, gets you invested in the story, the characters, the situation -- whatever it might be.
Context provided. Let's move on.
I make it a goal to reveal The Hook within the first five or ten pages of whatever I'm working on. I don't know if that's the "right" way to do it, but I like it. And I feel like that's a fair length to expect even the busiest reader to get through. If they read the first ten and aren't hooked by what I've written, okay -- at least I tried. But if they are, hopefully they'll make time to read the rest.
I'm only thinking about hooks because I recently started reading The Girl on the Train. It's a beautifully written book, I can say that much for sure. What I can't say, now almost 10% in (thanks Kindle!), is what it's about or what's at stake.
I'm reading it because it's getting accolades, because the writer of Gone Girl gave it her seal of approval. But if it hadn't gotten all these accolades? If it hadn't gotten celebrity endorsement? I don't know if I'd still be reading. Like I said, it has beautifully written, evocative prose. But I'm only pressing on because I know from the blurbs I've read that there's some sort of twist coming, some sort of unreliable narrator-based intrigue that caught the attention of Gillian Flynn.
Ick, this sounds like beginning writer bagging on successful writer out of jealousy. It's not. I'm loving the book so far, and you should read it, too. It just made me think about writing hooks and how I don't even consider NOT including one early on anymore.
I guess I'll keep trying to set the hook nice and early. Unless someone knows Gillian Flynn or, like, Neil Gaiman personally and wants to give me a shoutout their way. That's fine, too.