|After a glass of wine, I may have suggested we all go into the tiny hotel|
bathroom together. It seemed funny at the time.
Yes, that is James Kennedy, Matt de la Pena, AS King, Terry and me!
Terry Trueman is not only a terrific writer, he's a bundle of humor, compassion and energy.
He's also a man with quite a personal story, and I was reading the highly fictionalized version of a piece of it, his stunning STUCK IN NEUTRAL, by the time I got in the car to go home from TBF.
From Terry's website about Stuck In Neutral:
Shawn McDaniel's life is not what it may seem to anyone looking at him. He is glued to his wheelchair, unable to voluntarily move a muscle-he can't even move his eyes. for all Shawn's father knows, his son may be suffering. Shawn may want a release, and as long as he is unable to communicate his true feelings to his father, Shawn's life is in danger.
Suffice it to say, I didn't put it down until I finished.
You can read more about the book (and his many other works!) on Terry's awesome website HERE, including about the new extras** edition being released in conjunction with the release of the sequel!
I will tell you, it's a book not to be missed, and its sequel, LIFE HAPPENS NEXT, comes out August 21st!
In a minute, you're going to get a sneak peek at LIFE, because Terry's sharing the opening as guest host of this week's Friday Feedback. Rules are HERE if you're new.
So, at the request of a few Teachers Write! campers, as summer wanes, I was asked to talk about hook a little more. So, I asked Terry if he would supply the first two paragraphs and last two paragraphs of LIFE's Chapter One.
Because, I got to thinking that a writer really needs to hook the reader (at least) twice: once at the very beginning of their novel, in the opening sentences, and again at the end of that first chapter. I'm coining it the "hook and hold." :) I just made that up.
But what is a hook anyway? What does it mean to hook a reader?
What is that certain thing that engages us immediately in a story, and makes us want to keep reading?
Like all things writing and creative process, there's no easy, single answer to what hook is or how to create one. What hooks you may be different than what hooks me. Like Voice, you just know it when you sees it. ;)
But as a general rule, hook means there's not only an intriguing voice to the piece (it's not bland, robotic or boring, but rather immediately engaging), but also an interesting character in an interesting or relatable situation is introduced, and, mostly, that a conflict is presented.
Internal or external, there has to be a sense of tension. A character has to want something (or, I suppose, not want it), and, we, the reader need to instantly care if he gets (or avoids) it.
So, today, we'll focus on hook. We'll post the first 3 - 5 paragraphs of our openings -- if you want to post the first two paragraphs and last two paragraphs of your WIP as Terry has done below, be my guest!
Are you hooked? If yes, why? If not why not?
If you've already posted your opening here earlier in the summer, take a minute now to (break my usual rule and) go back. Does it have a strong voice? Does your character want something? Is there an immediate sense of longing, desire or conflict?
Without further ado, here are the first two(ish) paragraphs and the last two paragraphs of Chapter One of Terry's LIFE HAPPENS NEXT:
Night before last my dad tried to kill me. At least, I’m pretty sure that was his plan. For weeks and months I’d been worrying about it. I guess Dad had his reasons, but he didn’t do it. Obviously. Lucky me, huh? Sorry, sarcasm is one of the few weapons I possess.
I heard this thing once on a TV program about a guy who had a recurring dream that he was a butterfly. One day he woke up and couldn’t tell for sure if he was a butterfly dreaming he was a guy, or a guy dreaming he was a butterfly. Lately, when I first wake up, I have the feeling that maybe my dream life is better than my real life. Dreaming is my favorite part of each day, dreaming, soaring, feeling free because of all the amazing possibilities it offers me.
But here’s the screwiest part: most of these possibilities spin around an impossible fact, the fact that I’m in love with Ally Williamson.
Damn, that’s crazy. Maybe not so crazy for anybody else but it sure is for me. . .
. . .
So now you get that my body doesn’t work. But my brain sure does. I’m almost fifteen years old and since thinking is about all I can do, I’ve done a lot of it in my day. The only thing I can do to keep myself from getting depressed is just staying cool. I once heard my sister say to Paul, “No situation is so bad that having a bad attitude can’t make it worse.” I love that. My situation is pretty bad, but I’ve got my hopes and dreams and firm belief that life is a pretty great thing. And thinking about Ally, fantasizing that we might somehow be together someday, is more than enough of a reason for me to live.
So back to my dad and how he planned to kill me a couple nights ago. He actually thought he’d be doing me a favor, ending my miserable existence. But because Dad didn’t do it, I guess in one way I’m like everybody else now, just trying to figure out what’s gonna happen next. I’m keeping my spirits up and enjoying a mental make-out here and there (hey, it’s better than no make-out at all!), and focusing on the good things in life. Yeah, I’ve got C.P. but I know that there’s always bad and good things coming at us that we can’t even see, much less control. So how different am I from everybody else? Maybe not so much as it looks like.
Terry (& gae)
p.s. Terry's on Pacific time, so he'll be here late morning my (EST) time. :)
** the extras edition of Stuck In Neutral includes two interviews with Terry including one where he answers the ten most frequent questions he's gotten about the book, a playlist, and some insider information about Shawn, the MC of Stuck! Sounds pretty cool to me!