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Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  1,023 ratings  ·  153 reviews
Agents and editors agree: improper story beginnings are the single biggest barrier to publication. Why? If a novel or short story has a bad beginning, then no one will keep reading. It's just that simple. "Hooked" provides readers with a detailed understanding of what a beginning must include, (setup, backstory, the inciting incident, etc.); instruction on how to successfu ...more
ebook, 260 pages
Published August 1st 2009 by Writers Digest Books (first published April 12th 2007)
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First; I didn't finish.

Second; I stopped reading after the third self promoting quote. An author who uses his own work as an example of greater writing is not humble. Furthermore, when I disagree with his opinion, it's hard to trust anything else he has to say on the topic.

Tip: If you're a writer, and you're writing a book about writing, don't use your own work as great examples of anything. Critique your own work. Show how you would want to improve it. Point to other's work that inspires you. N
Carl Brush
I generally don’t care for “craft books” about writing. Most of them seem written more to show off the erudition and insights of the authors than to build the skills of the writers who read them for help. There are a few exceptions, and they’re all books that I’ve found I can put to work in my own pages. Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction is, of course, the classic. Her book takes a lot of work to use properly, but the payoff is high and any deficiencies in results are mine, not hers. David Micha ...more
W.J. Whaley
I am not a published author. However, I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Oh, and I read the book Hooked, by Les Edgerton. He IS a published author. And a damn good one at that! So it makes perfect sense that his book, Hooked, is a very well rounded and informative manual on writing fiction that grabs the reader’s attention right from the start.

I have always been a sucker for a great first sentence. As Edgerton explains, this has been the literary standard for quite some time in mode
Veronica Sicoe
If you only read a single book on writing, make it this one.

The beginning of your story is the most important weapon you have to win the reader over. Needless to say that every writer strives to come up with a compelling beginning, and there's tons of advice on creating catchy beginnings out there -- but none of it comes even close to the clarity and practicability of Les Edgerton's "Hooked".

Not only will you get a detailed break-down of what an effective beginning is and how to write one (alo
I got Hooked free on the Amazon store in some promotion or other -- possibly something about NaNoWriMo -- along with a bunch of other books. I don't know exactly why I started reading it; maybe it was the shortest. Anyway, it's the second non-fiction book in a week that's been surprisingly compelling. It's really about writing the first chapter, especially the first paragraph, or even more specifically, the first line of a novel. It's about exactly how to get your readers hooked. And it's really ...more
I have many books already on writing, but this was recommended at a recent writer's conference, so I thought I'd try it. Good idea - I really liked it and am applying it already.
The author examines that first sentence, first paragraph, first scene, and shows how critical they are to the success of your book. Firstly, they are needed to grab the reader right away and keep them reading. If your story really doesn't get going for a few pages - too bad. It's going to be back on the shelf or in the
A famous saying goes: "My child is the most beautiful in world." That's describes very aptly not only the feelings of a proud parent, but of a proud author as well, and as these cases go, we're sometimes puzzled when other people don't see things the same way.

The truth as per Les Edgerton? Even if they skip on such lowly duties as eating, sleeping and spending time with your family, agents and editors only have 24 hours a day and that's not even close to enought time to read through all the manu
I've read a few Writer's Digest articles written by the same author, so when this book came up on the free list here, I jumped at the chance to download and read it. I've read a number of books on writing, so I'm not a novice looking for something like basic story structure, the importance of tension, etc. I knew the first sentence or three were important, but I'm always open for new ideas and gave this one a chance.

And, honestly, I'll say that the first half of the book is helpful, but the seco
Remember the first time you went fishing? You tagged along with Daddy or Grampa or some kid bigger’n you, and there you were with a real pole and a real line and a real hook, and you were gonna catch something, by golly, and you did — seaweed.
In Hooked, Les Edgerton shows aspiring authors how to land the big one — a full reading by an agent or editor. You bait your hook with a strong opening that pulls the reader right into the action — right where the trouble begins. You set your hook with cha
Christine Rains
I've been to lots of writing classes, seminars, and workshops. I've heard many a time that you need to hook your reader right away. How do you do that? I've never gotten an answer that really helped me. Until now.

HOOKED wiped the fog from my brain. Writing beginnings has never seemed so clear. It's easy to understand and follow. Each section gives you an important key: story-worthy problem, inciting incident, background. Edgerton helps to sweep away all the extra stuff and focus on what is vital
An excellent book and a must-have for anyone that is writing a novel.

Mr. Edgerton's humor and warmth is translated into words as he guides and empowers you in the lonesome journey that is that of being a writer. His words mixed with the conversation-like approach touch the reader and fills him with such a positive and realistic (quite the combo) outlook for their future novels, that they truly believe nothing can stop them.

Above crafting a great opening for your book, he goes into backstory, fo
Feb 02, 2009 Ransom rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers
Shelves: about-writing
This book has a conversational style that keeps you turning pages. I also found it to be thought-provoking about current projects I'm writing. It's helpful to think about the beginning, but the author also makes a good point that most books about writing don't include how to look at a project as a whole. I'd recommend this to any would-be writer.
Jeannie Faulkner Barber
Being a novice writer, this book was a life saver. It opened my eyes to a lot of interesting opportunities and devices to keep the reader wanting to turn the page. It focuses on the beginning of your story to help your with setup, backstory, etc. I'm 'hooked' on this book!
Quite frankly I don't get the reviews this book got. Yes, I put it under "abandoned" books, but not because I fully dropped it, rather because I didn't read it in it's entirety and instead ended up skimming ahead.


First the good: Every so often, you might find some sound advice or tips. But you have to look hard.

Now the bad: The book is repetitive and unnecessarily long. The author uses a lot of examples from his own writing (which I don't find good at all). Every time he gives an example lin
Lisa Landreth
Hooked is a book for writers to help them get the beginning of their own stories-to-be off on the right foot. There are a lot of suggestions and helpful hints as well as an ending where agents answer questions about how important having a good "hook" to your story is.

I'd have to agree with the friend who let me borrow her copy of this book, the beginning was helpful but after that there was nothing. I think this book could be more helpful to a beginner writer because there wasn't anything new t
Lady Entropy
Oct 20, 2014 Lady Entropy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lady by: Aldoa Coelho
This is a very good, very succinct book, that manages to cram a ton of information into a small package.

The only reason why it doesn't get 5 stars is because of the book losing a wee bit of focus by the end, and feels a bit padded instead of shock-full of useful information. I know a few reviewers are pissed off at a perceived lack of "modesty" of the author for using his own books as examples, but honestly? I didn't care and it didn't affect the grade. Honestly, and as he mentions it in the bo
Al Macy
I bought this book because author Chris Strayln said, in an Amazon review, that it revolutionized the way he wrote beginnings. So I got a sample of Strayln's book, This Time You Lose, and it was about the most exciting beginning I've ever read.

Well, Hooked didn't quite live up to that recommendation. My review meter alternated between 2 and 4 stars while I was reading.

In summary, he's got a few great ideas, but he goes over them and over them. He could have gotten his points across in about 40 p
Les Edgerton’s HOOKED: WRITE FICTION THAT GRABS READERS AT PAGE ONE AND NEVER LETS THEM GO delights in its knowledge to writers and witty humor.

Any writer knows the first pages of a manuscript are the key to acceptance or rejection by agents, publishers, and readers. If the writer can’t grab their readers at the beginning, then that writer has little chance of keeping readers. HOOKED tells writers how to create those intense first chapters by focusing on the elements of opening chapters as well
Liam Michael Sweeny
Dec 30, 2013 Liam Michael Sweeny rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: unpublished writers
This seeming "Writer Instruction Book" is a cleverly disguised novel. I was the main character. You will be too if you read it. It's a tragedy, goes something like this... "A newbie writer thinks they've got it down pat, and agents would eagerly gobble up they're latest novel, and then they meet Les Edgerton, evil literary genius, mad scientist of the pages, who, with his "Pin of Truth", pops newbie's bubble, sending them nose-first into a hole they thought they'd filled: The beginning of their ...more
Hooked is a guide that provides ways to improve openings of fiction writing. It discusses and explains a variety of topics and problems that writers encounter when focusing on the beginning of a manuscript. This book gives problems to avoid as well as tips and components to include.
Hooked has opened my eyes to writing. I really enjoyed this book. I am not sure that I will be writing fiction as a profession, but I can use what I now know by applying it to what I read; I learned how to decipher go
Kathy Davie
A nonfictional exploration and exposé of creating a hook to drag your readers in and keep them fascinated.

My Take
This was excellent!! Every single page has useful information on starting your story and fascinating your reader---whether they're a just a plain old reader editor or agent! Edgerton dives into "what agents, editors, and (ultimately) readers expect.

Learn how to avoid that starting red flag that will cause an editor to toss your manuscript aside. Edgerton defines beginnings: op
Hard to explain "hooked" to a free fish except to say, you'll want to allow yourself to be hooked and read this book.

Simple formula to start your book:
"A character begins in stability in the world; this world becomes unstable after the introduction of an inciting incident; the character struggles to restore his stability; and a new stability is established as the conclusion, reflecting the change the protagonist has undergone as a result of the struggle. Almost a mathematical formula: Stability
L. Donovan
Hooked is purportedly about openings. Rather difficult to write 256 pages about just openings, even with extensive examples (many of which are taken from his own works rather than those acknowledged by the writing community as stellar).

Edgerton seems to be trying to carve a niche for himself, creating new, sometimes confusing and self-contradictory terms for each element of good fiction, and introducing the idea that a good opening (or hook, ergo the name of the text) should contain ten element
David E
This is the most practical advice I've ever read on the construction and mechanics of a story's opening lines.

My writing improved. Maybe even greatly.

Repetitive but still enjoyable, it's a small book with big type and few pages. Well worth reading.
Angela Blount
This isn't the kind of instructional book you'll want to read all in one sitting. I had to put it down a number of times and just chew on the previous few chapters--deciding how to incorporate the advice into my style and approach. I ended up doing a lot of highlighting that I know I'll be coming back to later. It occasionally felt like the author was a bit too impressed with some of the examples from his own work, but it is his book.

Lots of great points and examples to get you thinking differen
I would have avoided this book had it not been glowingly referenced in a craft book I found very useful.

The author uses his own work (not exclusively, but often) as examples of rock star writing. Also, with all the rhetorial "Wow, wouldn't you just have to read on?" questions...the answer was usually no. No, I wouldn't.

(And for a book that harps on trusting the reader, there were a lot of redundant passages.)

There are lots of five star reviews of this, so perhaps it's just me. YMMV and all tha
Brandon Luffman
A pretty quick read that does a great job of covering its narrow focus. This book is about the ever-important opening scene in a book, and doesn't deviate from that topic. I mean that as a positive trait, of course.

The book breaks down the components of what an opening scene is, what its job is, and how to maximize the effectiveness of this in your work. The book does feel like it's aimed at those who seek traditional publication, but for indie authors its lessons are just as important, if not m
Elaine Sturm
Great Book. Very practical. Very helpful. Touches on specifics that you need to know to 'get it right'. Highly recommend.
DeAnna Knippling
I need a whack upside the head about beginnings.

This guy, he's like, "Sure, I know a lot of writers that need a whack upside the head, but a really good teacher will speak softly and just carry that big stick. It's there, and you know it, and I know it, but when your ears are ringing, you ain't listening."

An educational experience.
If you suffer from Explaineritis when you write your opening lines, this book will cure you. Edgerton not only drives home the point that you must have an attention-grabbing opening, he shows how having this can help you more easily write the rest of the story. This is a terrific book on the craft of writing.
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