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Hooked: Write Fiction that Grabs Readers at Page One

I'm reading Hooked: Write Fiction that Grabs Readers at Page One, by Les Edgerton and published by Writers Digest. Gary Smith, a fellow Hamline MFA student, recommended this one.

This little blue book hammers home the importance of honing all your firsts: your first sentence, first paragraph, first page, and first chapter.

Yes, we've heard this same basic message from teachers, agents, and editors, but Edgerton lays it all out and takes the idea step by step while offering concrete ways to think about improving your all important first impressions.

So far, what I've appreciated most is the idea of the "inciting incident." Redundant? Perhaps, but Edgerton emphasizes that you don't always need to begin with the most action packed, bloody, violent, or otherwise hyper-sensory melodramatic event. In fact, often that is exactly not what you want to do, unless it tips the apple cart.

Edgerton says, "An inciting incident is the event that upsets the situation and pushes it to the breaking point." (54)

Think of it like the straw that breaks the camel's back. In the case of an alien story, it's not the first alien that lands in Central Park and eats every piece of chocolate it sees; it's the third or fourth, or the hundredth that devours all the kitchy chocolate Statue of Liberty figurines in Manhattan. Now that incident upsets the earthlings so much that they declare war on their cosmic foes in defense of chocolate and liberty! You get the picture.

Take a peek at Hooked and see if you're hooking readers, editors particularly, the best you can. I'll keep you posted as I read more!