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

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*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 beginnings in a comprehensive manner

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 successfully develop the story problem; tips on how to correct common beginning mistakes; exclusive insider advice from agents, acquiring book editors, and literary journal editors; and much more.

256 pages, Paperback

First published April 12, 2007

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Les Edgerton

35 books170 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 231 reviews
Profile Image for Spencer Orey.
540 reviews124 followers
June 11, 2020
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!). This one is confident, but it also leaves room for disagreement. The author has a strong but thoughtful voice, and I mostly felt like I was in a useful conversation. He also gives room for outside opinions, and there's an especially good section near the end of agents and editors commenting (a bit harshly!) on openings.

Overall, I didn't always agree with what he marked as fantastic openings, but by the end, I did feel like I had good tools to go out and evaluate openings on my own. I suppose that's all I could have asked for.
Profile Image for John.
44 reviews28 followers
April 16, 2015
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. Never tell the reader "I do a great job."

Otherwise, I find I might hurt myself with the emphatic eye rolling.
Profile Image for Dona.
536 reviews89 followers
September 1, 2022
For gosh sakes, don't pair adjectives in an attempt to make the descriptions more powerful. The rule of thumb...is...each additional one, the power is halved, not doubled, as many mistakenly think. p31

When you treat the place or setting as an important character, it makes perfect sense to allow that place to open the story, just as any character would. ...[W]eave that setting seamlessly into the inciting incident scene....[D]on't simply include poetic prose in the description. p165

I think these two excerpts highlight both the best HOOKED, a fiction writing guide on story openings, has to offer, and the worst. The best is that much of the advice about openings (and fiction writing generally) is quite useful. For beginning writers who haven't read many writing guides, I can see this book being a favorite. For more experienced writers, you might cringe over how much of this book is review, has nothing to do with openings, or just happens to be good writing sense.

I believe entire chapters could come out, and should have before publication. HOOKED is way too long for it's subject, repetitive and irritating at times. And sadly, it just isn't pleasant to read--the writing is unattractive, and that authorial voice is so intrusive.

The author of this book, Les Edgerton, has a colorful background, as another reader pointed out, and then deleted. He lived a life of crime, and did a bunch of other destructive stuff, and also opened hair salons? He's written several crime novels, entitled such imaginative things as "The Rapist" and "The Bitch." I can't speak for his fiction, but his edgy voice in HOOKED sounds forced (For Gosh Sakes!) and distracts from the read. I think he was striving for humor but he hit stridency instead.

The book is useful, but not pleasant. If you can find a different book on the subject, try that one instead. If not...

✔️August Pick 6/10

Rating 2.5 stars rounded up
Finished August 2022
Recommended for beginning fiction writers; could be appropriate for more experienced fiction writers needing improvement to their openings, but have patience with all the review

*Follow my Instagram book blog for all my reviews, challenges, and book lists! http://www.instagram.com/donasbooks *
Profile Image for LKM.
273 reviews30 followers
January 14, 2015
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 line he wonders "who wouldn't read on?" like it's a masterpiece; not a single time did I answer "me" to that - all those opening hooks (which by the way did not seem to match at all with any of the things he said they should have to be good) were terrible to me, and if I truly were to judge those books by their opening line, I would have quit most of them before giving them a single chance.

Considering all those problems made me lose faith in the author, I could not take what few, far in between tips I found might have been of use, as serious.

Also, one of these two books could have used a different cover...

Hooked by Jane May Hooked Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go by Les Edgerton

And given the publication dates, I'm thinking it should have been this one.
Profile Image for Alisa.
Author 1 book14 followers
June 22, 2014
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, but the readers aren't biting and the editors and agents aren't buying, you can bet that you've got a limp beginning. Trust me, I know. When I'm reading slush or critiquing manuscripts for contests, if the author doesn't have me by the end of the first paragraph, they're never going to.

Seem bitchy? Hyper-critical? Maybe it does, but it's also the product of a lot of experience. A story that doesn't grab me from the get go almost never pays off. And if yours is one of the 5% that might have, then wouldn't it be better to write a good beginning than be mad that I didn't read past your bad one?

Right, book review. Well, Les Edgerton talks about how to write a good beginning. It's nothing earth-shattering, but he breaks it down well and gives lots of examples of the ten things that should be in a good beginning and how much (or how little) you need of each. What are they?

1) Inciting Incident - the threat to the protagonist's status quo

2) Story-worthy Problem - the big inner conflict that's significant enough and difficult enough to resolve that it needs a whole book

3) Initial Surface Problem - the simple and immediate, usually external problem that propels the character to the next scene

4) Set Up - minimal

5) Backstory - minimal

6) A Stellar First Sentence - best sentence in your book

7) Memorable Language

8) Character - Protagonist and often antagonist

9) Setting - glimpse

10) Foreshadowing - of the ending or story problem

Like I said, nothing earth-shattering, but for me, it was a helpful breakdown and a good solid look at what wasn't right with the opening I'd spent over a month fiddling with and a great guide to how to do it better next time. Recommended for anyone struggling to get read, get bought, and get better.
Profile Image for Carl R..
Author 6 books26 followers
May 7, 2012
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 Michael Kaplan’s Revision is another favorite. The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop by Stephen Koch is another. Last year’s big favorite, Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose, is a lively read, but not as practical as I’d like. The latest, and the best of them all in my estimation, is Les Edgerton’s Hooked.
Edgerton’s last, Finding Your Voice, is high on my list of useful works as well, but Hooked surpasses even that one. Why? Because it does what so many other books preach but do not practice: Edgerton doesn’t just tell, he shows. He lays out the component parts of a strong opening, illustrates how they interrelate via wonderfully concrete examples from film and literature, and explains how to sequence the parts for maximum effect.
In the course of his presentation about openings, Edgerton actually gets deep into the structure of story and novel. Thus, contrary to most of life’s experiences, reading Hooked offers rewards far beyond those promised on the cover. It’s not write-by-the-numbers, but it’s the most nuts and bolts writing book you’ll ever encounter and probably the closest thing to a novelist’s handbook it’s possible to write. It’s worth a hundred MFA workshops, and I can’t imagine why any writer wouldn’t have it on his or her shelf.
Profile Image for W.J. Whaley.
9 reviews8 followers
January 21, 2014
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 modern day writing. If only I could have told my college literature professor that this is why my brain went numb from the endless opening description given to us by some of the early 19th century authors. It all makes sense now! Don’t get me wrong, I do like various works of 19th century literature, I just simply have the attention span of a gnat.

Hooked is not only a book that an aspiring author can benefit from, but also the active reader. I enjoy reading about the craft. Yes, I also write as well, and have a strong appreciation for what an author puts in to his/her work. This book helps give me even more of an appreciation and understanding of why books flow the way they do, and the motivations behind an author’s story structure.

I found Edgerton’s approach to instruction to be very entertaining and informative, and the book is littered with a plethora of great quotes and examples from other published authors. If you are in the market for a good book on writing instruction, then Hooked would make a terrific start.
Profile Image for Miko.
4 reviews26 followers
January 21, 2012
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, I am very interested in the dissection that follows, but can do without the "Now what reader could resist THAT line? I couldn't!" that is repeated over and over again.
Profile Image for Liam Sweeny.
Author 26 books20 followers
December 30, 2013
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 story."

In all jest, but I have to admit to being intimidated, then depressed by this book, only to be brought to redemption at the very end. 'Hooked' is about how to set up the most crucial part of your book or story, the part that leans hardest on the guillotine edge of an agent's or editor's slush pile: The beginning.

With a bounty of examples, Edgerton guides you not-so-gently at times through what makes it today as a story. It covers beginnings as a complex interweaving of elements, introducing the reader to the inciting incident and story problem to setup and back-story. Edgerton also takes the reader briefly through the transition of modern literature, film- and TV's influence on readers' tastes, and the publishing industry trends that guide agent- and editor acquisitions. There is a good bit of advise from agents.

This book is for anyone who wants to improve their craft as a writer. But be forewarned. It's a crucible. It's not the kind of book that will gently encourage you to write crap.
Profile Image for Veronica Sicoe.
Author 4 books46 followers
June 15, 2012
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 (along with a truckload of examples both of great and bad beginnings), but you also benefit of lessons in what makes a winning story in today's market, how to write tight scenes and what to focus on when you create tension, and even detailed and unmatched advice on constructing your story's backbone, the problem that your protagonist needs to solve.

I cannot overstate the relevance of the information in this book, and the perspective it opens up on writing successful stories.
Profile Image for Charissa.
Author 13 books72 followers
March 27, 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 got lots of good ideas from it, and will probably peruse or skim through again in the future when I’m ready to get a book ready to be published.
47 reviews
November 17, 2011
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 second half is pretty repetitious if you have any knowledge about the basics of writing. The most helpful points of this book were:

1) Make sure that every "minor" obstacle (or as he calls it, a surface problem)comes about because of a previous one. The resolution to the minor obstacle must not resolve the bigger overall issue (he calls it the story-worthy problem). The major issue/problem shouldn't be resolved until the end of the book.

2) Make sure that even if your reader doesn't know right away what the protagonist's inner demons are, that you DO know what they are from the very first sentence. (Keep asking why. This sort of came up in Stephen King's On Writing, but I think it is more concrete here.)

3) Realize that your readers are smarter than you give them credit for. In other words, snip the backstory until later. Most writers know this, but sometimes we need to be knocked over the head again as a reminder.

4) He provides a way to structure your book. This helped me the most as I was struggling with the overall outline, and for some reason, it jump started my brain in the right direction. I realize this is an idiosyncratic example, but sometimes your brain just needs to see it a different way.

However, if you are looking more for overall writing tips, these books may be more helpful:

Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel OR The Fire in Fiction
Jessica Morrell's Bullies, Bastards and Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction

I'm sure there are other books if you're really a novice, but I've been writing since I was 12, so I haven't read many books of the basic basics. For genre specific you have Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, or for Romance you have Leigh Michael's On Writing Romance.

Good luck!
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,009 followers
December 4, 2011
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, really interesting. Almost every chapter gave me something to think about, and it uses examples to help the reader understand exactly what its driving at.

It's no longer free on Amazon, but it is worth paying for if you're a writer, and you're looking to polish the opening of a story. Even if you've had creative writing lessons, I think there's pretty much bound to be something in this for you.
Profile Image for QOH.
483 reviews21 followers
August 6, 2016
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 that.
Profile Image for Krista.
328 reviews4 followers
October 13, 2021
Who knew that someone could write an entire book about novel openings? Les Edgerton did and did it well, breaking down the dos and don'ts of modern fiction writing specifically pertaining to beginnings and doing so in an engaging and often humorous way. This little book is choc full of information for anyone who is writing, plans to write or is intrigued by what makes a reader want to keep reading beyond the open few lines and paragraphs. I'll never begin a book the same way again.
Profile Image for Al Macy.
Author 25 books153 followers
August 24, 2014
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 pages.

He also keeps giving examples, and talking about how great they are. Some are, some aren't. For example, from "What's Not to Enjoy":

"A few days before Thanksgiving I get a terrific recipe from the Turkey Hotline Lady while Dyna and I make love."

He then says "What a superb opening! Who could possibly resist reading on?"

Me. I could resist. He gushes about a lot of these, and often tries to fit the opening to his ideas even if the match isn't that close.

Finally, the writing was often bad. Here's an example from page 207:

"The truth is, many books are getting lost in the mix, and this is largely due to the fact that there are still writers churning out a product written in a style and with a structure my son Mike would most likely describe as being 'So five minutes ago.'"

This is from a book on how to write. "The truth is" "Largely due to the fact that." Sheesh.

Most beginning writers could change this to:

"Many books fail because of their antiquated style and structure."

But, as I said, there are good ideas, and I made changes to my opening based on his suggestions. Those changes improved my book. Just be prepared for a long slog.

Profile Image for Mike.
Author 2 books20 followers
February 12, 2018
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 publisher's trash can. Secondly, by crafting the start properly, the rest of your book will fall into place all that more easily.
Primary components he identifies are the Inciting Incident, which creates the Initial Surface Problem for the protagonist to solve now, and hints at the deeper Story-worthy Problem, the inner problem that forces the protagonist to change. and finally the Set-up of the opening scene. Optional components are Backstory, Character Introduction (at least the protagonist), Setting, and some Foreshadowing. The book explains all of these in detail, as well as how they influence the rest of the structure, all with great examples. The main character will continue to solve surface problems, but each will often just lead to another surface problem. Solving these contribute to solving the real problem, the 'why' behind his actions.
I took a lot of notes for my own editing of Return to Kirk's Landing. I already do good first scenes, but I still can crank it up. I'd urge serious writers to get a copy of this little book.
Profile Image for Christine.
Author 22 books7 followers
February 27, 2013
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 characters whose deeds evoke sympathy and empathy, and just enough setup and back story for a fascinating setting. Then you play the reader with active scenes and dialogue that show your characters’ struggles to get out of trouble, until the reader is dying to jump into your landing net and find out how it all ends.
Edgerton’s writing style is more concise than mine — probably because he writes fast-paced stuff like short stories and screenplays — but he did help me tighten up my first foray into writing fiction, and I read him again when it was time to edit my finished novel. I enjoyed reading an opening scene he set in Fort Wayne, and I liked his conversational tone. I think you’ll like him, too — even if your writing genre is carefully crafted grocery lists — because if you love books, Les Edgerton will give you a greater appreciation for the well-turned phrases that get you Hooked.
Profile Image for Christine Rains.
Author 59 books235 followers
March 15, 2012
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 to the story. He's funny and uses a lot of fantastic examples. There were many times I went "wow" or "oh!" It's brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

A writer friend of mine lent me this book. It's one of the greatest gifts she has ever given me. HOOKED is a book every writer needs to read.
Profile Image for Nicole.
506 reviews38 followers
July 26, 2009
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, foreshadowing, and many other things you need to have in mind while you're breathing life into your book.

It's very easy to read. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for L. Donovan.
24 reviews4 followers
December 4, 2009
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 elements, four primary and six secondary.

Each of these ten elements has its proper role in fiction, but not in the opening.

I have formed a distrust of this author's agenda.
Profile Image for Angela Blount.
Author 5 books670 followers
February 12, 2012
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 differently about starting out your book on the right foot. Because after all, if you don't hook a reader from the start, they're not likely to bother reading on.
Profile Image for Reggie.
191 reviews7 followers
January 15, 2020
A solid craft book about the most important part of the story: the beginning! I was initially wary about this book due to some reviews I spotted, but carried on to find it a rewarding read. By looking at how different beginnings work, I got a wealth of ideas for my own writing. I'm constantly dissatisfied with my story beginnings, so this has been a helpful read! Also, despite being a craft book, it was rarely too dull since the author is quite witty.
Profile Image for Ransom.
Author 6 books8 followers
February 2, 2009
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.
Profile Image for Jeannie Faulkner Barber.
Author 7 books159 followers
July 18, 2008
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!
Profile Image for Allyson.
Author 2 books64 followers
December 2, 2020
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 newer authors who just constantly hear "start in the middle of the action!" That advice needs a little unpacking to use it effectively, but perhaps more importantly, it's not, in fact, always the right way to start a story. Not all stories are action-driven thrillers, and if they aren't, then what should you do? This book will tell you plainly and in an entertaining way.

I'll be recommending this one forever.
Profile Image for Lina Hansen.
Author 3 books45 followers
March 16, 2020
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
Profile Image for Rod Raglin.
Author 34 books26 followers
February 4, 2017
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 significant detail who your protagonist is and what the story is about.

To do this you must first identify your hero or heroine's "storyworthy problem", that would be the problem that is just below the surface and is gradually revealed as the story unfolds. From that discovery, and Edgerton urges you to drill deep to find out what's really bugging your protagonist, comes the inciting incident.

This is where the story begins, the moment where the status quo is upset and the protagonist sets about to resolve it. The inciting incident presents the first indications of the bigger issue, the storyworthy problem.

Don't start with backstory - bringing the reader up to date on your protagonist's life, start with "trouble" - an incident presented in an action filled scene that incites your protagonist and reader to carry on to resolution.

A provocative opening sentence, an exciting inciting incident giving a glimpse at the storyworthy problem and you're on your way.

Complicated? Maybe, but Edgerton hammers it home again and again (with examples).

Hooked may very well be the most important book you'll read about writing. Edgerton writes in non-academic, easy to understand language, includes entertaining examples and even gives agents and editors the last word on the most common mistakes made in the manuscripts they see and, you guessed it, a bad beginning ranks right up there.

Edgerton's prescription on how to come up with a good story opening is actually more than that, a lot more. It's the formula for a sound story structure.

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