How to write a good hook-Arabella K. Federico

How to write a strong opening hook

The 3 Act Structure is vital to storytelling, as too, are the Save The Cat beats; so I put them all together for you in my newest series on plotting. You don’t need to be some epic outliner and plotter in order to use these two systems effectively. They’re not restrictive and they’re not limiting; they’re a guide to a good story. It’s time to start with The Hook.

The What-What is The Hook?

First, the Hook is the very first plot beat of Act 1 of the Three Act Structure and Save The Cat-which we’ll call STC from here on out. Simply, the Hook is the internal conflict your Protagonist has been dealing with from way before the book ever starts. This is where your character’s Lie/Wound/Misbelief is explained to the audience in order to get them to care about the hero on an emotional, empathetic level. You’re literally hooking your audience by their emotions to keep them reading.
What is a good emotional hook?

The When-When should the hook show up?

Second, I believe the Hook should be written into your story as soon as possible. Remember, the goal is to emotionally hook readers and get them to care about the hero-that needs to happen immediately. Contrarily, a mistake I see a lot when reviewing first chapters for my lovely fellow writers, (and in many published works) is they use the precious time of the very first chapter to describe the world, backstory, history, mythology, or info-dump information that isn’t as necessary as they may believe. The negative to that is the reader doesn’t care. They’re jumping into a story, not for all the cool wonders of your world, but for the characters they want to love and care for. Get the emotional wound in FIRST, then have your character interacting with that outstanding world later.

The who-who should the hook be about?

This may seem obvious, but hear me out. Our Protagonist is the hero, right? What exactly does that mean? It means that this story MUST be crafted so that it’s your hero’s story. Similarly, if you were to put in a completely different character, it wouldn’t work. Why wouldn’t it work? Because, if done properly, you will craft a character arc from the very moment of the Hook, beginning the epic emotional journey your character will undergo. For example, if you have a character arc, and at the end of the book your hero learns something profound and life-changing, but you never wrote the Hook. You didn’t show your audience at the beginning they were wounded in the first place, therefore it’s way less meaningful to the reader at the completion of the arc. If you need help to craft your hero’s lie, read my Protagonist series here.

the hook is your most powerful tool to get readers invested in your story from moment one

Arabella K. Federico Daughter of the Pirate King

The where-where does this show up story-wise?

Additionally, the Hook has a sister; The Inciting Incident, which is beat two. The reason the Inciting Incident matters to the Hook is that they’re twin beats. Two trains, on two separate tracks, traveling the same path. The Hook is the internal conflict, and the Inciting Incident is the external conflict. For example, we center your Hook around the Lie your character believes about themselves or the world; their psyche is fractured. Because of this, they THINK something external will “cure them” of whatever internal pain they’re experiencing. The solution to their pain? The Inciting Incident! 😀 It’s there to emotionally tempt your hero into rationalizing and agreeing to go on this new journey. It makes the choice to go much easier. Do not forget that what they want will never bring them happiness, EVER. Only what they NEED will do that. Stick around, we’ll talk about that later.

The Mark of Chaos and Creation. The Mark of Dreams and Darkness

The Why-Why does the hook matter?

As one of the most underrated beats of STC, the Hook matters because it’s 1-Getting readers emotionally invested, which keeps them readings. 2-Establishing the character’s emotional wound and BIG LIE (what they want and believe will fix this issue.) 3-Creating the first step to their character arc, which is what readers find the most satisfying and pleasurable to read when asked why they love stories. It’s the emotional journey taken by the hero. External events are great, and this is technically a blog about plot, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.
It’s true storytelling.

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