Q: What elements make for a good hook, particularly at a story’s outset?
A: Hook is really hard to define. But here’s how I look at it (in terms of opening pages)
It’s something that draws you in.
It could be a first line.
It could be a character’s unique voice.
It could be an interesting situation on the first pages.
It could be the style in which the piece is written.
It could even be a picture above the chapter header! (Did you notice they do this in Harry Potter? Those marketing people are genius.)
Often it’s a combination of all these things.
HOOK is what draws me in. I can’t NOT flip to the next page (pardon the dbl negative). It’s a combination of unique factors that makes your work compelling.
Put it another way: if your opening pages don’t present something that feels interesting to a decent number of people, then you probably don’t have a hook.
The best way to grasp writing a hook is to find opening pages of books you love. Find the very best ones and see what they’re doing to draw YOU in. Then you’ll know if you’re opening pages can compete.