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Writing Hooks to Open a Paragraph or Chapter

“How do I start a chapter so that it has writing hooks that capture the reader’s interest?” you ask.

In this post, I give you three surefire ways to open a chapter or even the whole of your memoir. You’ll use one of these writing hooks time after time.

These three methods involve creating curiosity in your reader. This curiosity via writing hooks is easy for you to ignite so that your reader will want to read your story.

The first of the writing hooks

The first technique is to start with a conversation, but you must start with the second half of that conversation and not the first part.

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For instance:  “Why would you say such a thing to me? It’s so spiteful!”

With this sort of second part of a conversation, you only get a reaction. You don’t know what was said to produce this reaction nor do you know if the reaction is appropriate or whether it is melodramatic. The only way to find out is to keep reading. 

The trick here, of course, is to make the second part of the conversation a bit dramatic. It would not work to have the second part of the conversation be “Yes, the weather is lovely.” There is not much tension in that second half of the dialogue. It will not, of itself, entice the reader to continue.

The second of the writing hooks

The next method to start is an advanced or late portion of an action. You only show the reaction, the effect, or the outcome. 

Here is an example, “When she saw me walk in, she took a plate from the drying rack next to the sink and flung it at me, it whizzed by my ear and crashed against the door. Who would’ve thought that such a little thing would elicit such a reaction?” We have no idea what transpired before the reaction of the plate throwing. The only way the reader will find out is to continue reading. 

Again, the reaction here has to be somewhat dramatic. It would not work to write, “You can get some in the fridge.”

The third of the writing hooks

A third opening option is for you to play a bit with setting. In this instance, you create a conundrum, a mystery, in the setting. In a Hemingway novel that I read long, long ago, he began the book by creating a problem such as I am paraphrasing right now.

(Hemingway lovers please forgive me if I’ve got the wording wrong, but the version that I’m offering here creates a great opening for a memoir.)

It goes like this—as I remember it: “At night, I had sentry duty. When I looked out across the expanse of the valley to the hills beyond, I could see a solitary light. ‘Who was there in that lighted room and what were they doing?’ I asked myself. Every evening the light beckoned my attention. One day, I promised myself, I would walk over there and find out for myself who was there.”

In conclusion

These three sorts of openings create a question that can only be answered by reading more of the story.

To repeat: the three writing hooks I’m offering you here are about creating something that is the second part of what has happened in the first part which is not described. Only later as you read the story, will you know what has happened.

You can see utilizing these writing hooks is not very hard to do and they are techniques that many, many writers—whether of memoir or of fiction—employ in their stories.

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And remember: “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch; yard by yard, it’s hard.”

Good luck writing your stories!

~ This Is How To Keep Your Readers Interested 

~ Become A Better Storyteller

~ The Challenging First Paragraph  

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