Creative writing hooks can grab your readers’ attention! Here are some tips and strategies for creating powerful hooks.
Writing hook 1 – Flip normality
Jesse was deeply in love with a tree.
The woman walked across the water.
It had unusually large wings for a dog.
Why does this technique work? Because we’re wired to notice the unusual, the stand-out, the difficult, rather than what’s everyday and familiar.
So, if you start an sentence with normality and take it somewhere unexpected, your reader will be jolted and wake up.
Disruption is one of of the most powerful techniques for creative writing hooks, and a great way to start a story.
Writing hook 2 – Disrupt the status quo
The mechanic scratched the key the whole length of the Mercedes.
The princess’s hair was matted and stank of rot.
When the kids took over the government…
Why? As well as being unusual, this inverts the typical social order, and shows familiar characters or archetypes in an unexpected situation.
We’re more likely to be curious, and wonder what happens next.
Writing hook 3 – Ask a question
What’s the difference between a cudgel and a truncheon?
When’s the best time to murder your company boss?
Why are you staring with that weird expression?
Why? A question implies an answer to follow, so a reader is more likely to follow along. This harnesses the powerful Zeigarnik Effect – the need for closure.
Writing hook 4 – Use ‘you’
What’s your problem, dude?
Are you a sheep or a dog?
When are you coming this way?
Why? The direct address “you” captures attention.
Even if you only use it rhetorically, people feel directly addressed. Since they’re interested in themselves, they’re more likely to notice a direct address “you”.
As a fiction technique, this establishes a certain intimacy and familiarity with the narrator, bringing the reader closer.
Writing hook 5 – Paint a picture
Leaves crunched underfoot as we stumbled down the avenue.
The car was huge, red and shiny, its windscreen smashed and the front door swinging wide.
Out in the field, the cows chewed peacefully in the sunset.
Why? If you create a clear visual image, readers are more likely to picture it in their mind’s eye and become engaged.
Next, draw them further into the story with mental “travel” into the picture you’ve just created.
Some creative writing hooks are more subtle. They draw readers in through seduction, rather than shouting.
Trying painting pictures to immerse your readers more fully in the world of your story.
Exploring creative writing hooks in this methodical way is an example of deliberate practice. It’s one of the fastest and most effective ways to improve your writing technique.
Read about Deliberate practice for writers.
Read about Ray Bradbury’s deliberate practice.