Catch Your Reader’s Attention and Never Let Go
Today I’m going to review Hooked: Write Fiction that Grabs Your Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go by Les Edgerton. To date, I’ve never read a better book that provides you with ways to hook your reader. It’s an easy-to-read work that will motivate you to learn in a kinesthetic manner.
Now, if you’ve ever stepped into the world of Les Edgerton, be prepared. His work can be diabolical. But one thing is for certain. The guy knows how to write attention-grabbing novels. And, he wrote a nice little blueprint that helped me complete Northern Knights.
In January of this year, I was looking for any and every way to make Northern Knights as attention-grabbing to my audience, and I’d just finished listening to a Master Class in the Jerry Jenkins’ Writers’ Guild featuring Les Edgerton.
After the class ended I did some research on Edgerton as I do any writer and came across Hooked. Let me tell you; I’m glad I bought the work and took the time to dissect every single sentence.
Edgerton devotes a lot of time to your book’s first sentence. He goes as far as to provide a blueprint for an entire first page, telling you what you need and don’t need.
The one criteria he emphasizes?
You need action in that first scene and it should start with the first sentence.
Edgerton uses a first line from one of his own works to emphasize his point. Edgerton states: He was so mean that wherever he was standing became the bad part of town. If that line doesn’t want you to continue reading, I’m not sure what will.
In my own work, Northern Knights, I stated ‘Cain Riscattare would’ve laughed in a man’s face had they told him his life was about to derail.’
I didn’t write this first sentence until February.
Until then, it was backstory, backstory, backstory, plus a slow-moving first scene. If you’re looking to gain a readership, you’re going to have a tough time with throat-clearing and backstory unless you’re writing for the older crowd who loves classics. Then, you might get away with it.
Edgerton states to provide only enough backstory in your first page to get the reader interested in your character and nothing else.
Save it for later. Again, hooking the reader.
What’s the inciting incident?
In Northern Knights, the inciting incident comes on page two, toward the top of the print edition where Lira tells an ignorant Cain about the dystopian society outside the Outlands, where Cain lives.
Cain’s rarely been exposed to such dystopia and of course, thinks Lira’s being melodramatic.
The inciting incident is the first incident that sets the story in motion.
Edgerton uses the movie Thelma and Louise, and you can use such an example for many books and movies where the inciting incident occurs early.
Again, in today’s world we need to grab the audience early to give them a reason to care about the main characters.
In Thelma and Louise, Thelma must convince her husband, Darryl, to go on a weekend trip with Louise. We see early on that Darryl is disrespectful and controlling. Thus, Thelma wastes little time in asking her husband to go off with Louise.
Edgerton outlines the whole movie, such as the first surface problem: the incident outside the roadhouse bar where Louise shoots and kills a man named Harlan after he tries to seduce Thelma.
As the action continues, things go from bad to worse for Thelma and Louise.
Edgerton’s entire point during the whole outline is showing the writer that the first scenes in the movie, the inciting incident, sets the story in motion.
Terrible trouble must follow the inciting incident. So, in Thelma and Louise the two become fugitives from the law.
Afterward, while on the run, they come across a drifter named JD who is an ex-convict breaking his parole. When Louise has her lifes savings transferred to her, JD steals the money, causing more trouble for the duo. Desperate for money, the two rob a convenience store.
The two are later pulled over by a New Mexico state trooper, who they steal guns and ammo from while locking him in his own trunk.
The trouble continues to worsen, again stemming from the inciting incident.
In Northern Knights, I tailored the story to fit this model, leading Cain and his friends into discovering imperial spies are invading the free region of North Columbia, tempers flare with school rivals, violence occurs in the streets, and coalition leaders may or may not be trusted, all leading up to something even greater the author must know.
Story Worth Problem
What is the purpose of the main character?
What’s the deeper, psychological aspect of the story?
Why did Cain do what he did in Northern Knights to set the story in motion?
Edgerton emphasizes the importance of the author knowing their main character. For me, it was all about knowing who Cain was and what he was looking to prove to himself.
Ditto for every single main in every single work, or else the story falls apart. Writing an entire story only for it to fall apart won’t help gain a readership.
It took a while to really know who Cain is. Authors can write short stories or spinoffs about their main and in time, will know their main characters as if they’re a real person.
After conducting a few of these exercises, you’ll be ready to expose to your readers the real meaning behind your character and your story. This is what completes the story.
Any writer looking to pen a compelling novel and gain a readership will benefit from Hooked. Les Edgerton takes the reader from crafting a perfect first sentence, inciting an incident, surface problems, and conclusion.
It’s a must-read for anyone looking to further their writing and storytelling skills. For indie-authors who may’ve published and haven’t garnered good or great reviews, it’s a perfect chance to dissect your own story, edit, and republish it under a different title.
The greatest thing about being an indie author is you’re granted a few mulligans, and by reading Hooked, it might just be the work you need to improve your writing that will get it noticed on Amazon, Nook, iBooks, and everywhere your books are published.
Get Hooked Here.