Monday, October 24, 2016

Visual and Sensual Details as a Hook

"Keeping the Reader Reading,"  Part 2

The plot hook isn't the only thing that keeps the reader reading. 

Here's two versions of THE GAME WE PLAY’s opening.  

Faith Cody lay in bed. She tossed and turned then moaned at a horrible nightmare. She heard the sound of her moan and woke up. This wasn't her room. Where was she? Why was she here? Why was the room so fuzzy?

A man leaned over her. He was blurred, too. Somehow, she knew he was going to rape her. As his hand reached her face, she screamed.

In comparison:

Light and shadow undulated around her in a drugged blur, but she could distinguish enough corners and shapes to know she lay in a strange bedroom. Rainy afternoon gray light billowed through thin, white curtains, and she could smell the sea and the freshly laundered sheets of her bed. The ceiling above her was spattered with large shadows of raindrops she couldn't see on the windows.

A man, a blur of flesh tones and angles, leaned over her. His hand became solid shape as it reached her face. Her nameless dread became terror, and she cringed away, expecting rape.

The second gives visual details -- corners, shapes, white curtains, the shadows of raindrops. It also gives details from the other senses -- the smell of the ocean and the sheets, and the feel of the wind from the open window. The reader should be in that room at this point because she can visualize it.

Getting the reader’s head into your book as fast as possible is as much a hook as the plot questions you’ve asked.  

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