How is a writer like a big mouth bass?

The hook is for me, not the readers.  Did you get that? Oh, wow! This is, like, the biggest breakthrough I’ve had all day.

“The Hook

In medias res

The phenomenal first line!

Oh, ho, ho! My anchor, my love, my feral little muse has been messing with me all this time. She wants me to think I’m trying to pull in readers with these tools (Kurt Vonnegut’s #5) but it’s not about the readers after all, it’s about getting the thing written.

I mean, how can a person have readers if they don’t get the thing written?

It’s the hook, my hook, that points me where I need to go, kicks out the emotion, and plants the images in my head. It’s the hook that tethers me to a piece of writing and centers the entire thing. It’s the hook that gets the thing written.

Oh boy. Oh man. This is BIG.

What about you, how much of a believer are you in the first line? What do you use to get your thing written?


About E. Victoria Flynn

E. Victoria Flynn is a mother and a writer living in Southern Wisconsin. Published in a variety of venues, Victoria is currently writing the first in a series of three fantasy novels based on Cornish folklore. When not taking part in a shrieking dance party or engrossed in her own little fictions, Victoria is keen on art, the natural world and people unafraid to explore their own brilliance.
This entry was posted in Creativity, muse, writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to How is a writer like a big mouth bass?

  1. Christine says:

    Between my sophomore and junior years in high school, I attended a week-long workshop at the University of Iowa School of Journalism. I have never forgotten the advice I heard there on hooking the reader. For example, after reading, “I killed your cat today,” who among us would not be so horrified and curious that we would not keep reading? That opening line began an article on animal abuse. As it turns out, the cat in question was so badly abused that the writer felt compelled to put the poor animal out of its misery. The article went on to discuss the problem of abandoned pets.

    There’s a book that I will give you when I see you that was recommended at the workshop. The book is called Stalking the Feature Story. And while the book targets news feature writing specifically, as I paged through the book just now I think there may be nuggets that may provide inspiration for your writing. I still have the copy of the book I purchased at age 16, but I also bought an extra copy when I found it for sale for 95 cents at Frugal Muse. I was hoping to find someone who loves writing and might enjoy the book. Thirty-one years after first reading it, what I learned in Stalking the Feature Story still influences how I write. I believe it is important to hook the reader in the first paragraph, but it’s not always easy to do.

    Great topic, Victoria. I hope that you receive many thoughtful responses to this blog!

    • pennyjars says:

      “I killed your cat today” what a great opening line. Of course, we need to hook the reader, for sure, but I’ve found that if I don’t hook myself first there’s no reader waiting on the end of the line 🙂

  2. I’m not very good at hooks in the sense of wow-em first lines or even first paragraphs. What hooks me and keeps me writing the story is an image, a scene. I see the main character, often in a crisis, and I have to know who they are, why they’re in that state, how they got there.

    • pennyjars says:

      Linda, yes! I think in a way we have similar methods of writing. Visuals are huge for me, if I can’t see something to describe and pull me in I’m at a loss. And trying to figure out how your character got to the place they are, what a terrific puzzle.

  3. kario says:

    You are absolutely right! I can’t write unless something hooks me first. I often have some compelling line appear in my brain and as I shower or walk the dog, I work it out from there, expanding tentatively as though I’m building a spider web. Sometimes, that line doesn’t even appear in the writing at the end, but it is always necessary to spur me on.

    • pennyjars says:

      I love the spinning and unraveling. I’ve come to believe that a person can connect any two or three thoughts, images or ideas together to form a compelling story or essay if they work at it long enough.

  4. Our hook is always a good one-liner from a character that we want to repeat over and over, like we do from our favorite movies. We think we have some, only time will tell when we hear someone else quote our script to us… 🙂

  5. fandina72 says:

    I love this post. You are sooooo right and I hadn’t thought about it that way. The hook IS what keeps me writing! Thanks so much 🙂

    • pennyjars says:

      I’m so glad you agree. Thinking of it this way has given me a little different perspective on what I’m writing. Thanks for stopping and leaving the comment!

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