The Worry Factor
Hooks—Does Your Story Have Them?
By Leanne Morgena
No matter in what sub-genre you write, your story must contain hooks. I’m using this word to mean plot twists that speed the pace and hook the reader’s interest. Why, you ask. Isn’t a compelling story with protagonists who are at odds compelling enough? My answer is maybe.
Your goal as an author is to construct your scenes so that the ending of each one propels the reader to keep reading. Don’t end a scene or chapter with your hero or heroine in a state of peace (unless the story has ended or your intention is for the reader to stop reading).
Too many times, I’ve read submissions where at the end of the chapter the heroine crawls into bed and turns out the light. Yawn. Nothing in that scene ending compels me to keeping reading. What if the heroine crawls into bed, reaches for the novel at her bedside, anticipating her nightly two chapters of me-time, and the lights go out? Then I have to turn the page to find out why. Did a fuse blow? Did she forget to pay her bill? Is electricity out in the entire neighborhood? Has someone cut the power to the house? Suspense has been added to the story. The author has hooked me into reading the next page.
An event like the above may not fit the tone of your story but don’t ignore my advice. If readers aren’t worried about your characters, they won’t care. If they don’t care, they won’t continue reading and you’ve lost a potential buyer for your next story.
Look at your current manuscript for the scene and chapter endings. Have you ended each with the character in a state of uncertainty? If so, great. If not, you have a bit of tweaking that needs doing.
Remember, when in doubt, always include a worry factor.