You can have the best character ever created, but you need to get that character into some type of action that will grab and hold onto the reader's attention. He/she needs to be hungry for more and more of your story. So you need to choose an opening action that can be built upon. According to Chris Roerden in Don't Murder Your Mystery, "Caring about the main character is the ultimate hook." This is so true because you can build upon this in so many ways.
The reader needs to identify with the character's feelings, and there must be contradictions of some type. It is good to introduce the main character as quickly as you can into the story. The reader should wonder about who, what, when, where, how, and why. Curiosity will keep them reading. As the author, it is your duty to keep their curiosity going throughout the whole book until the end where you will satisfy and answer all their questions about the story and the main character.
Even though it may be necessary to include backstory and description, these can be added later in the story and must be kept to only what is needed to satisfy your reader's curiosity. Backstory can be worked into the action, adding more interest and adding fuel to the reader's interest. Adverbs and adjectives must be minimized also.
So what is the best hook? One that can be built upon? The main character, of course, and the problems with which he/she will be faced. Remember, the job of a hook is to stretch the reader's interest beyond the first sentence; and if the author does it right, the reader's interest will go well beyond the first chapter.
Which of the following would grab your interest?
It was a dark and stormy night.
Maggie's hands gripped the gun as she looked down the barrel at the fear in the eyes of the man who raped her.
Faye M. Tollison
Author of To Tell the Truth
Upcoming books: The Bible Murders and Sarah's Secret
Member of: Sisters In Crime
Writers on the Move