Emotional Hooks

The reason I, and many others, continue reading past the 1st few pages of a novel is simple. Hooks. Sometimes these are weird and wonderful and intriguing. And if you can achieve this in your writing, amazing! 

Plant a question, an idea, an object, a quest, or a mysterious situation into those pages and you might get someone to keep reading. But for me, the EMOTIONAL hook is by far the more powerful.

Draw your reader into your story by finding something warm, touching and relatable that the MC really cares about. If the reader can relate, they’ll be hooked. They can empathise with the MC and willing to follow them for a few more pages or ideally, 300 pages!

Really work on amplifying this emotion, whatever it is, and the rule for me is – if your MC cares deeply about it, it’s more likely your reader will also care. And make sure you start right in the midst of this moment. 

The situation should be used to amplify this emotion. CHANGE is key here – start at a point where something the MC really cares about changes. Keywords – emotion, passion, feelings, caring, longing, urgency, change. All of these will hopefully create an Emotional Hook.

I’ll give one example – The Hunger Games (YES, I know!!!) Katniss cares most about what? Her sister, of course. So, Collins uses that as a way to get us emotionally hooked to the story. First, she shows how much Katniss cares – she breaks the law to find her sister food.

On a smaller level, she leaves her to sleep as she leaves. She is gentle, warm and caring towards her sister.  This hooks us emotionally, so that when she volunteers in her sister’s stead later, we feel the full impact. That whole opening is all about the Emotional Hook.

And that sets the whole story up for the inciting incident that follows and increases the stakes so much more when she does volunteer as tribute in her sister’s steed.

Suggested Writing Task

At the time of the novel opening, find something, warm, emotional, human and very relatable for your MC to care about.

It might be getting to the pharmacy to get their mum’s medicine before it closes or it could be saying goodbye to their gran before the funeral casket closes.

Encapsulate this feeling in your opening sentences. Make us feel that energy and that emotion. This will help bond your reader to your MC’s initial wants and root for them. And remember it’s not about what’s happening, not necessarily, it’s about what it all means to the MC, what they care about, what they are passionate about, what they feel and how this moment affects them. That’s what will glue us.

Then it’s just a case of doing that for 300 more pages…easy right?Give it a go and post your opening line on the writing task channel.