I’ve mentioned something on facebook/twitter about a sudden epiphany on fiction writing of mine, if you noticed… and this is what I’m going to reveal today with this post.
Since NaNoWriMo in November I became deeply passionate about writing. I started to follow people like Rachelle Gardner, The Creative Penn, Larry Brooks and so on. I have been writing and reading and writing again… Yet the lessons I’ve learnt (especially the very effective ones of Larry Brooks on his website storyfix.com) didn’t fully flowed from my brain to my hands and fingers. I felt I was missing something, something I couldn’t grasp yet. Of course it takes time to completely understand something you are taught. It’s totally normal.
Since NaNoWriMo I’ve learnt so much that now when I read a book, I open my eyes… I just read differently. And after a week of writing, writing and writing, one of my friends lend me a book that I’d surely like, so she said, and it’s called The Mortal Intruments (book one): City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.
If you haven’t read it, you totally should, especially if you are an aspiring writer.
When I started to read it I automatically thought of another author Melissa Marr and her Wicked Lovely book series. It meant that even though I was going to like the book, my #1 favourite will still remain The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. (there’s no better book than this one I guarantee!)
So I read and read and turned the pages…
And the epiphany just spit at me!
I stared at the cover: New York Times bestselling author. Well the strategy Clare used is so obvious! And so effective! And a sort of reading flashback rushed through my mind and I thought, yes all the bestselling authors do it too.
You’re impatient right now to know the secret, right? In fact it’s not a secret because Larry Brooks has been repeatedly saying it and writing it…
The key to the bestselling list is…
Yes, now you understand my title xD
If you are subscribed to storyfix.com you know what I’m talking about. But for those who don’t…
When you go fishing, you need to bring lots of hooks to catch as many fish as you wish. It’s the same when writing a book. The more hooks the better.
Take any of your favourite books and take notice that first of all the author aims to carry the reader into someone’s another life, another dimension with other norms, other creatures (all depending on the genre you’re reading). Have you realised that the #1 US bestselling book is always… uh out of the ordinary. It pulls us into another world, weird situations… This is what the reader loves: to escape from reality.
That’s why in The Mortal Instruments I’ve not encountered any ‘normal’ situation at all for the time being. That’s why it’s a bestseller. At any time I don’t see the main character at school or doing homework or even attending Eric’s poetry recitals which she was about to do but something out of the ordinary happened… to disturb the routine of real life.
A hook is anything that makes the reader turn the page and push his nose a little bit further into the book. It’s fascinating, surprising, additive.
In any bestselling book, something always happens. Always. It’s a loop of hooks. Hook. Hook. And hook. Until we can’t get enough.
Hooks are very obvious and common (and a must!) in YA novels in my opinion. Because YA should not be too long and the story mustn’t drag… It has to be fast and entertaining. A nice example is also L. J. Smith’s books, especially The Night World series. My sister is currently passionate about The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. These are totally addictive. These are filled with hooks hanging everywhere on very single page.
I don’t know if I have been very clear in this post, but only when you start to read with your eyes open (after having read articles as such and especially in storyfix.com) that you’ll notice the secrets of what made the book successful.
To conclude: escape from the ordinary. Make something happen every time. Never let your story/characters idle (except maybe the blank part between chapters). Make your readers hold their breath as they go with your flow… uh I mean your rapid current.
If we can master the overlapping hooks as such, the readers won’t even notice that they are turning the pages. Isn’t this a writer’s dream? ^^
But because we are still far from this, we should just stick to this: Read and Write. Write and Read. Do not write without reading. You’ll miss too much otherwise. So go read and get your own epiphany!
By the way, anyone caught some good fish?
An Evil Nymph.