Set the Hook and Reel that Fishie In!

Most of you know my husband is a fishing show host. The man loves fishing. I don't really go with him, but I hear enough lingo to know if you want to catch a fish, you have to set the hook.

Setting the hook involves forceful action: You've got to yank the rod at the right moment. Too soon and the fish gets away. Too late and the fish swallows the hook.

Books are kind of the same way. We start our chapters with a hooky first line, but do we end the chapter that way? On a conflict or a question that the reader must read on to discover more? I think the end of each chapter is a solid place for setting a hook.

And while the first few pages are great bait for getting a nibble, it's the hook setting that will allow you to reel your fish in.

How does your book end? Do you think the reader is reeled into your author boat? Which authors have reeled you in? And did it happen on the first nibble of their books?


Unknown said…
This is funny because my husband works in the same industry. For a person who doesn't fish very often, I know all about "setting the hook." Lol. Fun stuff!
I've been more conscious during editing to make sure I end scenes/chapters with better hooks.

Lynette Eason reeled me in with her Women of Justice series. Loved her ending, made me want to run and grab the next book. So I did! :)
Unknown said…
I attended a workshop last year, and the author listed all the places you need to put a hook. There are A LOT of places.

At least with a book hook, you don't cut your finger when caught by one. :D
Terri Tiffany said…
I went back through my WIP and looked at each last line and asked if it would make me turn the page to the next chapter:)
Linda Kage said…
Great analogy. I used to be so proud of myself when I came up with a great first line hook, but then I spent the next five pages trying to explain what I just said and it totally killed the wonderful hook. Never could reel that fishie in! But I think over the past few years, I'm starting to get a little better when the reeling action!!
Katie Ganshert said…
My author boat! I'm going to start thinking of it that way!

The ending is crucial to keeping readers. I hope mine's effective in that way!
Hahaaa, Julie. My husband was disgruntled when I had to make sure the phrase was "setting the hook." He wants me to go fishing with him. lol

Jessica, I've heard so much about her books but haven't read one yet. Will have to remedy that. ;)

LOL Stina, true on cutting. Oh, and I agree. There should be some sort of hook/conflict on every page, I think.
Good for you, Terri!

Linda, looking at your reviews and sales, I think you're doing a fine job. ;-)

Me too, Katie! Can't wait to read your book.
What a great picture. I'm envisioning a fish with reading glasses on hooked to a book! LOL

Ok, seriously, I'll never forget when I learned the term ROP = Read On Prompt. It's what you should leave each chapter with--something that has them having to enter into that next chapter. I equate that to your hook setting at the end of each chapter.

Yes, I work on doing that with my writing. Emily March comes to mind as great with this and I believe the books I've read of Erica Vetsch also use ROP's really well.
Tamika Eason said…
I'm very aware of every ending. Even a scene break needs to leave a little static!
Sandra Orchard said…
I always think about it at the end of chapters. Sometimes write myself into a corner because of the great hook ending I think of "on the fly" for the previous chapter ending. I also lay groundwork for other books in the series throughout the book, but I never thought about adding a hook at the end. Good idea!
Patti said…
I loved Linda's comment because I have found that happens a lot. The author writes this great hook but then nothing really happens.

My friend once told me you need to start every chapter with a hook and end every chapter with a hook, which is a tall order.
Stacy Henrie said…
I think this is sometimes tough - we get good at writing gripping first pages/chapters, but it's harder to maintain over a whole book.

Loved your post on Seekerville the other day!
Erica Vetsch said…
I keep it in my mind as I write, and I try to make note of ones that I read that really make me want to move on. Mary Connealy is really great at this.

Thanks, Eileen, for the shout out! :)
Loree Huebner said…
I didn't know your hubby was a fishing show hubby and I just looked him up - awesome!

My hubby and I fish - not as extreme as your hubby - bass, bluegill, Northern pike, trout and salmon - midwest lake fishing. I love it. I've fished since I was a little girl.

Love your analogy! So right on.
I agree. I think you should set the hook at the end of each chapter, so the reader will want to turn the page. The exception is a nonfiction devotional book that presents an entire thought in each chapter.

The best at setting her hooks at each chapter end is Jody Hedlund!
Cindy R. Wilson said…
I didn't know your hubby's a fishing show host! Cool.

I'm definitely getting better at the beginning of the story hooks but I still struggle with the end of scene hooks. It's one of the things I've added to my check-list when editing. There's always something, right? :)
Sarah Forgrave said…
Love this comparison, Jessica!

I just started reading "The Convenient Groom" by Denise Hunter, and holy smokes...Talk about hooks all over the place! I wanted to read the whole book overnight. But I held back and tried to pace myself. :)
What a fitting metaphor! Honestly, I can be hooked with pretty writing as much as conflict or tension. I'm a prose junkie. LOL

Great post, pal!
Heather Sunseri said…
I just read a fantastic book with great chapter-end hooks. Lots of page-turner appeal. I try to make sure I have that.
Warren Baldwin said…
For me, a good novel does two things, which really are woven together to make one strand. One, it makes me wonder how the story would continue to develop, even how I would like to see it proceed. Two, it makes me yearn for a sequel. Charles Dickens was a master at that, for me any way, especially his Great Expections. What a classic! Good post. WB
Hi Jess -

When I first learned about "the hook," my focus was solely on the first chapter. Yet, we need a series of hooks throughout our work, especially the dreaded middle.

I always want to leave my readers thinking, "I've got to read more," or "I can't wait for the sequel."

Amie Borst said…
what a great analogy! my mother would approve (she's an avid fisher-woman)!

and yes, i try to "hook" my reader every chance i get.
Rahul Bhatia said…
It is all about setting the right bait n timing it... such a wonderful post... says it all

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