I don’t like thinking of myself as a fish.
I have to admit though that my relationship with stories bears a startling resemblance to those wide-eyed salmon that my grandfather used to reel in beside me.
I never have enough time and I have reached the stage in my life that I refuse to let entertainment that I’m not enjoying guilt me into continuing to spend time with it.
Bluntly, if you want to keep me reading, you’ve got to hook me.
I have a clear list of things that will throw me out of a story, but I found it much more difficult -and interesting- to consider what it is that pulls me in.
Oh, there are structural and technical things that will keep me reading and general topics that will somewhat hold my interest, but actual hooks are a lot harder to define.
As I started writing and re-writing my ideas for what it was that made me take the bait, I found it all coalesced around a single point.
Make me care.
Adrenaline-jumping action, toothsome description, and puzzle-box plots are all excellent at smoothing my path to reading.
The stories that I can’t put down, that wreck my schedule and my personal relationships, are the ones that make me care.
Whether I care about the characters, the setting, or the results of the plot laid out in front of me doesn’t matter as much as making me invest myself in the first place.
My life is too short to throw myself away on just any hook.
Give me the bait that speaks to me and I will gladly throw myself out of the water and into your world.
Reading is one of the more personal and involved forms of entertainment. I like to think about what motivates me to make the story choices that I do.
To see my own ideas for hooks, you can read my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.