Friday, October 14, 2011

Hooking Readers Instantly

This past week I finally got the chance to sit down and read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Finally! I know what you're thinking, "You're just now reading it?" Yes, I'm a bit behind, but not completely lost. It looks like it took me forever to read the book based on my Goodreads account, but that wasn't the case. I was busy and stealing a minute or two here and there to read it. Until finally, I ignored everything else and sat down to read. I actually lost sleep reading the book, because I couldn't set it down and go to sleep. I would set it down only to pick it back up, telling myself "One more chapter, then I'll go to bed." Yeah, right!

My Goodreads account is set up to feed to my Twitter and Facebook accounts when I update my status. Almost every single time I did an update someone on both sites would make a comment. At one point a close friend of mine mentioned that she didn't know what it was that made everyone so addicted to it when they started reading it. Of course, this got me thinking. What was it?

My first thought was suspense. I mean we want to see how the Hunger Games turn out. Who lives? Who dies? What happens to Katniss and Peeta? They were in a fight for their lives. To the main character everything was life or death. However, the more I got to thinking about it I decided it wasn't just suspense that had me insisting on one more chapter, over and over. It was the hook!

Not only was there a hook at the beginning of the book, there seemed to be a hook in every chapter. Something that made me go "Oh no! I have to read the next chapter to see how that turns out." Collins gives us a reason to keep reading in each and every chapter. It's not us merely wanting to find out what happens next, she is forcing us to push forward.

Each chapter and scene build upon one another AND she gives another hook in each one. So maybe that's what I should be looking at too. Not just building and adding to the story, but continually hooking the reader. Make it impossible for the reader to set the book down. I will have to revisit all of my manuscripts with this in mind in the future.

Your Turn -> If you read The Hunger Games, what made you keep reading? Do you agree that Suzanne Collins continually hooked us?

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