Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go

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Writer's Digest Books, Mar 29, 2007 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 260 pages
3 Reviews

The road to rejection is paved with bad beginnings. Agents and editors agree: Improper story beginnings are the single biggest barrier to publication. Why? If a novel or short story has a bad beginning, then no one will keep reading. It's just that simple.

In Hooked, author Les Edgerton draws on his experience as a successful fiction writer and teacher to help you overcome the weak openings that lead to instant rejection by showing you how to successfully use the ten core components inherent to any great beginning. You'll find:

  • Detailed instruction on how to develop your inciting incident
  • Keys for creating a cohesive story-worthy problem
  • Tips on how to avoid common opening gaffes like overusing backstory
  • A rundown on basics such as opening scene length and transitions
  • A comprehensive analysis of more than twenty great opening lines from novels and short stories
Plus, you'll discover exclusive insider advice from agents and acquiring editors on what they look for in a strong opening. With Hooked, you'll have all the information you need to craft a compelling beginning that lays the foundation for an irresistible story!


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Possibly the most important book you'll read about writing.Most writers would agree the beginning of a story is the most important part. That's where the reader gets "hooked" and continues read on or abandons the book.
In Les Edgerton's book, Hooked - Write fiction that grabs the reader at page one and never lets them go he describes in broad strokes, fine strokes and with examples how to achieve what his subtitle proclaims.
According to Edgerton, you can't write the opening until you know in significant detail who your protagonist is and what the story is about.
To do this you must first identify your hero or heroine's "storyworthy problem", that would be the problem that is just below the surface and is gradually revealed as the story unfolds. From that discovery, and Edgerton urges you to drill deep to find out what's really bugging your protagonist, comes the inciting incident.
This is where the story begins, the moment where the status quo is upset and the protagonist sets about to resolve it. The inciting incident presents the first indications of the bigger issue, the storyworthy problem.
Don't start with backstory - bringing the reader up to date on your protagonist's life, start with "trouble" - an incident presented in an action filled scene that incites your protagonist and reader to carry on to resolution.
A provocative opening sentence, an exciting inciting incident giving a glimpse at the storyworthy problem and you're on your way.
Complicated? Maybe, but Edgerton hammers it home again and again (with examples).
Hooked may very well be the most important book you'll read about writing. Edgerton writes in non-academic, easy to understand language, includes entertaining examples and even gives agents and editors the last word on the most common mistakes made in the manuscripts they see and, you guessed it, a bad beginning ranks right up there.
Edgerton's prescription on how to come up with a good story opening is actually more than that, a lot more. It's the formula for a sound story structure.

Review: Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go

User Review  - DeAnna Knippling - Goodreads

I need a whack upside the head about beginnings. This guy, he's like, "Sure, I know a lot of writers that need a whack upside the head, but a really good teacher will speak softly and just carry that ... Read full review



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About the author (2007)

Les Edgerton (MFA, Vermont College) is a novelist and author of Finding Your Voice. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories 2001, Kansas Quarterly, Arkansas Review, North Atlantic Review, Chiron Review, and many others. His honors include a Pushcart Prize nomination, Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination, and an Indiana Arts Commission Fellowship.

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