14 January 2012

Hitting Below the Belt

Hey, I'm short. I have to use what I can . . . and if I can only reach that high, well, that's just the way it's going to be.

Whenever Sensei gives us a situation (some guy is going to grab you and take you to the molester van or whatever) and asks what we would do, a bunch of the women in my Kempo class say “Every other kick to the groin!”

It's a standard answer. Well, there is the woman who always pantomimes pulling her gun from her purse and simply shooting them, and one kid who says his plan is to use C-4. But for the rest of it, first shot of a dire situation is to hit below the belt—do it fast and hard so they can't come after you.

Believe it or not, this relates to writing.

As a writer, you want to hook your audience.

If I kick someone in the butt, they just look at me, grab me and take me to the molester van. (Okay, that wouldn't happen, but let's just say) If I kick them somewhere more, shall we say, sensitive, then I've got their attention. They're worrying about one thing only, not what they're going to have for dinner or that cute girl that just walked by. Focus.

That's what a hook is in writing. Those words that roll across the page—letters that might or might not be interesting—have to snatch the reader's attention . . . and keep it.

Not, “That's kind of interesting.”

Two paragraphs later, “I wonder what movies are playing this weekend.”

No, no, that won't do.

Grab and hold.

Don't imagine that. Sorry.

Back to writing. One hook isn't enough. The first hook doesn't have to be the big one, but it does have to lead to another, and another, and another, until you (the author) reveal the sucker punch that ensures that the reader is not going to set that book down when their phone chirps at them that they have a new text message.

Hooks. Love them. Work them. Write a bunch of them. Think back on all those books you read and at what point they made you go, “OOOoooohhhh!!!!!” or “What!?!”

The best part—you can use hooks in every paragraph it you're really excited about it. Try it!

4 comments:

Antiquarian said...

so can I let go of "molester man" now? have I "held" him long enough? *wink*

Jordan said...

Oh Jo. I'm pleased that my latest submission to the group has inspired your thinking... :-) I knew you appreciated that scene!

And I'd like to add an "ouch" for the dudes. Did you really have to go with below the belt?

-Jo- said...

Yes, Jordan, I did.
Robin, I'm still reeling about Frodo.

Antiquarian said...

*laugh* I know!. Frankly there are several other Fellowship members I'd rather see go pant-less.

The lesson is don't put the ensorceld object in your pants...or your light-saber. Yaaaaa just avoid pockets all together.