Updated: Nov 20, 2022
This is the third part of a series of posts. To read previous parts, click the links below:
Now that we have covered WHY you should write and how we use story structure to put together the core parts of a story, let's dive into how we make the story more interesting using hooks and bread crumbs. (Not sure what Story Structure is about? Click the link)
Now, let's get into HOOKS
<Omnious string music>
Sounds scary? Well, let's step back a bit and ask a simple question.
WHY should anyone bother reading your story?
There are truckloads of writers out there, so many apps to scroll through, with reels and posts about dancing pigs and acrobatic dogs!
There are many possible answers to this question. However, if we assume you are just starting out as a writer and are not yet popular, then one good reason for anyone to read your book is that the BEGINNING of your story SOUNDS interesting.
BEWARE THE HOOK!
So the Story Hook is some detail placed at the beginning of the book or story to grab the reader's attention - and that creates a desire for the reader to find out more. It really comes down to a two-part cocktail; you describe an INTERESTING scenario AND then indicate to the reader there is something left UNEXPLAINED or UNUSUAL that is coming in the story. If this is done properly, the reader is intrigued enough to continue reading in order to find the missing information. Or just get clarity on what is going on.
When this happens, the reader has been <omnious string music> HOOKED!
So let's practice this using the two parts we need to create The Hook.
Describe something INTERESTING.
Indicate something remains UNEXPLAINED or just throw in something UNUSUAL.
"I do", Carla said - and the crowd went wild. Richard pulled back her veil, and without waiting for the Priest to tell him he could now kiss the bride, planted a kiss firmly on her lips. Now, the shouts from the ecstatic crowd almost raised the roof. Everyone had waited for this marriage! With a playful cry, Richard swept her off her feet and began to swirl her, laughing heartily. Carla's smile widened at the sight of the joyful congregation. Then she froze as her gaze fell on Count Pascale De LaCruz who had begun to walk down the aisle towards them; she couldn't help noticing that one hand was lightly placed on his sword.
What is interesting? It's an anticipated wedding.
What's unexplained? Carla's smile freezing and why a man is walking towards the couple with his sword.
The instruction had been simple enough; wait for the package to arrive, drive to the take-off point, and meet with the contact for additional briefing on what to do with the package. Orders were orders and that was why I was now standing under the pouring rain, chilled to my bones, reminiscent of days in training as the SEAL team member that I had become. The large trench coat that kept away the worst part of the cold covered the MP5K, my trusted companion, as well as the Glock and my karambit. Despite the downpour and light fog, my eyes were alert as I waited for the contact to arrive.
The keywords for the exchange were simple: "General Canine."
What is interesting? This is the story of an armed ex-navy seal, waiting in the rain for unexplained reasons.
What is unusual? The words, "General Canine"
Jovan looked on in horror at the bizarre scars of the royal python that had now encircled him. It held him tightly in a vicelike grip that was slowly tightening with every passing moment. The beast raised its head to look him in the eyes, and frightened as he was, he noticed there an unusual intelligence in those reptilian eyes. And just when he thought things could not get any worse, the beast threw back its head - and began to laugh...
What is interesting? Jovan is clearly in, well, a bind.
What is unusual? Snakes don't laugh.
And now, we will talk about BREAD CRUMBS...
A TRAIL OF BREAD CRUMBS
A bread crumb is really like a hook - BUT, it happens throughout the story, giving your reader a reason to continue reading the story. Some stories start out great but get boring quickly, and there are many reasons why this may happen. Bread crumbs littered through your story are INTERESTING and UNUSUAL details that keep a reader glued because:
They indicate something unexpected will happen.
Example: "I will love you forever," Ethan said to Megan, ready to fight to the death for her. But his resolve was going to be tested.
They indicate that a current situation will be explained by reading further.
Example: It was now Tankos who laughed at me now, tugging at my mandibles. In the past, I would have killed him with a flick of my antenna. But now, I was quiet. I had not always been this way. But all that had changed with the coming of the beautiful Chiron"
They indicate that gaps in the story will be filled
Example: Now you know about Lemuria and her fight in the Eastern seas. And you know about the Great Winter, fighting champion of the Azures. But now I will tell you about their powerful sister, Sunil, the one who changed the world of Zanos as we know it, but in order to do so, we must first speak of the battle of Zambezi.
Now, I hope these give you an idea of how to use Bread Crumbs, which are similar to hooks but occur throughout your story to keep your reader glued to the pages.
So, now that you know about Hooks and Bread Crumbs, next we are going to get into a VERY important part.
The Tips and Tricks that help you with the PROCESS of actually writing and finishing your story, project, or book.
See you in the next post! 😉
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