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

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  1,793 ratings  ·  212 reviews
*The first pages are the #1 key to acceptance or rejection of manuscripts--most agents and editors claim to make their decision on a manuscript after the very first page, which means that no writer can afford to have a weak story beginning

*The first and only fiction-writing book that focuses exclusively on beginnings--no other book on the market addresses story beginning

Paperback, 242 pages
Published April 12th 2007 by Writer's Digest Books
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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 ·  1,793 ratings  ·  212 reviews

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Spencer Orey
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
A nice focused take on different aspects of writing a good opening. I definitely feel like I got what I was looking for. There were short sections with attention to examples of openings that I found to be especially helpful. Recommended overall.

I find the tone of writing books to be really tricky. I usually think of them on a spectrum from terrifyingly anxious (if you can just stop crying for a few minutes to write down a few words...) to rigidly over-confident (here's the only way it works!). T
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Hooked: Write Fiction that Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go
by Les Edgerton

The title pretty much says it all with this one. It's an easy, engaging read with some great advice that all writers need to heed. Myself so much included.

What's the advice? Hook them with the first sentence, the first paragraph, and the first page, because in today's media market, you're not going to get more than that.

If you're getting decent reviews and your critique partners say your stories are good,
Jan 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
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
Carl R.
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Liam Sweeny
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
W.J. Whaley
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
The material in this book is great, but for a book dedicated to its topic it didn't hook me. I blame the constant examples. In the kindle version, there's no visual difference in the text of an excerpt from a story and the regular text, so it's hard to jump back and forth between the two.

For some reason, the constant praise offered to these excerpts irked me after awhile as well. Even among well-written books, not every opening will entice every reader. When offered an example opening sentence,
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing, 2019
This writing book is written to give guidance and clarity to authors about how to start their books so they hook readers. The author used lots of examples from great books to show what he meant. I didn’t think a book just about the beginning couple pages of writing a book would be that interesting, but this was a phenomenal book I’d recommend to anyone who writes, wants to write, or has written. I learned a ton, and am very grateful for the information the author shared (he has a great voice). I ...more
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Al Macy
Jun 10, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ownit
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
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
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
Feb 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
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
Christine Rains
Feb 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
L. Donovan
Dec 02, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Angela Blount
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-craft
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
May 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing
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
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Jeannie Faulkner Barber
Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Concrete tips and examples to improve one's writing, readers' interest, and chance of traditional publishing. ...more
Dec 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is hands-down the best book on writing great novel openers that I have ever come across. Edgerton manages to clearly explain different ways to begin a book and how to figure out which one would be best for yours. He goes on to offer real examples to show these strategies in action, and to talk in more depth about different kinds of novels and why different openers may be more or less effective in attracting and keeping your readers glued to the page.

This matters so much, especially for new
Lina Hansen
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
I tried twice, but I could never connect with this guide. Most writing guides are fascinating, this one just never hooked me. Sorry, no pun, the simple truth. i like the concept (duh, that's why I bought this), but this is not for me ...more
Rod Raglin
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Possibly the most important book you'll read about writing.

Most writers would agree the beginning of a story is the most important part. That's where the reader gets "hooked" and continues read on or abandons the book.

In Les Edgerton's book, Hooked - Write fiction that grabs the reader at page one and never lets them go he describes in broad strokes, fine strokes and with examples how to achieve what his subtitle proclaims.

According to Edgerton, you can't write the opening until you know in sig
Kathy Davie
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, business
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
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Lady Entropy
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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