Everything I learned about writing I learned on TiVo: Hooks

My husband says I am probably the greatest TiVo-er who has ever lived.   If I want to skip a commercial when I replay my programs, I know exactly when to begin to fast forward  because, immediately before the commercial, there is a hook, something that will bring you back to the program even if you’re slurping down a huge dish of ice cream on have taken  a potty break.  Whatever gets you to keep watching, to stay with or come back to the television is the hook.  Try it yourself—if you are nearly as good a TiVo-er as I am, you recognize the hooks at the end of a section but you may not have realized that’s the hook.  Look for it and learn from it.

On NCIS, it’s easy.  The picture freeze, the color changes to black and white, and the view wonders, “Why does he have that look on his face?”.  If the action or line makes the watcher helped wonder, it’s a hook.   When the action or the line brings the viewer back, that’s a successful hook. 

In Psych,  the program always begins with something Sean’s father, a retired cop, taught Sean when he was a kid.  The hook is the viewer wonders how Sean uses that to catch the criminal.

The hook is often a question, this one from CSI New York. “How did the only man who was not in the fight end up dead?”

Here are a few end of the chapter hook bys some of my favorite writers and some I’ve written to illustrate the point.  You will notice those by my favorite authors are good.  In my opinion, these two nearly force me to keep reading.

Harley Jane Kozak A Date You Can’t Refuse   “It actually helped having a plan of sorts and two people who knew what I was up to. . .  The comfort didn’t last.  It may have been an ocean breeze wandering a few blocks inland, but I was cold suddenly, and I found myself looking around, feeling as if someone was watching me.”

Rhys Bowen Her Royal Spyness   “I picked something from my skirt.  It was a piece of strong black thread. . .It dawned on me that someone could have strung it across the top of those steps. . .My attacker was indeed in the house with me.”

I love romantic suspense.  Obviously the two examples above are from RS.  Hooks in RS are easier to write because there’s suspense in the book.

But I’m not going to stop with that.  Come back the first Tuesday in February for more on hooks–if, of course, I remember.

 

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