Monday, October 11, 2010

The Hook, the Hook, in a Picture Book

As writers, we all know that our stories must have a hook, something to grab our readers' attention. If we don't use a hook, they may not continue past the first chapter, page, paragraph, or even the first sentence. But a hook is more than just an attention getter. It's a page turner. Writers of chapter books and novels use end-of-chapter hooks to make the reader want to continue to the next chapter. They want to see what happens.

How can picture book authors use this hook? Easy! It's called a page turn. In its simplest form, it's really just the element of story coming into play. If you care about the character, then you will want to know what will happen next. Picture books are short. You turn the page approximately 14 times. It's like having 14 mini chapters! Granted, we don't get to choose where the page turn will occur, but it IS good practice to write your book with at least an idea of where you think the page turns will occur. To do this, you can use a storyboard. It's simpler, easier, and quicker than actually making a book dummy. My favorite one is Kim Norman's. You could also make your own.

Ways to create a hook, or page turn, in a picture book:

  • Use plot structure to enhance curiosity about what will happen next.
  • Use questions in the text.
  • Create questions in the minds of your readers.
  • Put MC in an uncomfortable situation.
  • Have MC take action to solve a problem. (This is a surefire way to ask "What do you think will happen?")
  • Introduce a new problem.
  • Twist the plot some more.
  • Show MC emotions. (This brings the question WHY into play. Readers will turn the page to find out.)
It's not something you HAVE to consciously be aware of at ALL TIMES, but you should keep it in the back of your mind. Write your story first, then tweak it from there. And most importantly, have FUN!

3 comments:

  1. I love this - in the end it's just a condensed version of creating a hook for *any* book :)

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  2. it does make such a difference when you see the story on pages... so get a feel for how it would read.

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  3. I like your summary on how to hook a reader, especially the one about creating questions in the reader's mind that they want answered. I think that one neatly encapsulates some of the others too.

    The whole 'hook' thing is the bane of my existence, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Why can't we just write a story and be done with it? Unfortunately if we want anyone else to read our story the 'hook' is a necessary evil...

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