Unfortunately your story may be amazing but if a reader, competition judge or fiction editor doesn't feel gripped by your story within the first paragraph, there's a very good chance they will give up there.
So, what's a killer hook, and where do you place it in your story?
A killer hook is an essential question which is raised in a story, a question so enticing that a reader will want to read your story from beginning to end without pausing for breath. Be warned you must raise a brilliant question and answer it in a way that will leave your reader satisfied and entertained. The plot of your story will be based your killer question so make sure it is relevant and able to sustain the whole story.
Here's an example from an excellent book, Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence.
"Ravens! Always the ravens. They settled on the gables of the church even before the injured became the dead. Even before Rike had finished taking fingers from hands, and rings from fingers. I leaned back against the gallows-post and nodded to the birds, a dozen of them in a black line, wise eyed and watching."
Wow! If you haven't read this book, I thoroughly recommend that you do. What Mark Lawrence has done in the first paragraph of his book is not just create one killer hook, but multiple killer hooks. He raises so many questions in this first paragraph to make sure every reader will want to keep on reading. And he does this throughout his whole novel creating an unstoppable compelling page turning force. Don't start reading this book before you to bed because you'll be up all night unable to put it down.
So these are the questions that Mark Lawrence raises in his first paragraph.
- Who are "they," and why are they dead?
- Who's Rike and why is he cutting off fingers and rings?
- Who is the narrator? Is he good or bad?
- Why are the birds watching him?
The next question that needs to be considered with creating a killer hook is where to place a killer hook and it should be dropped in to your story as soon as possible. The earlier the better, you need to reel in your reader with your hook and keep command of their attention until the last word. Don't leave it too late to put in your killer hook.
For me personally I have learnt a lot about creating killing hooks by reading. Whenever you stop reading a new book or short story, or even an non-fiction article keep an eye out for the killer hook. Decide for yourself whether you think they are effective and intriguing enough to keep you engaged and whether you would do it differently.