Meredith Costain and Opening Hooks

Roving Reporter: Caz Goodwin

Meredith Costain ran a wonderful workshop at the end of the SCBWI 2014 Conference. Her topic was Opening Hooks. Everyone knows how important the opening of a story is and that Meredith is a great (in her own words) ‘hooker’, but we were keen to know more.

Meredith had sought the views of agents, publishers and editors about the essential elements of hooking the reader:

  • I want to be swept into the voice or world of the book…
  • The opening needs to be immediately engaging…
  • Is it gripping?
  • Do I like the characters?
  • Do I want to know what happens next?
  • Is it well written?
  • Is it fresh?
  • Is the voice confident and distinctive?

 We discussed the various types of hooks:

  • Puzzle Hook (what is going to happen next)
  • Dialogue Hook (captivating dialogue)
  • Voice Hook (different, interesting voice)
  • Character Hook (introducing someone we like or support)
  • Action Hook (starting in the middle of the action)
  • Scenic Hook (starts with setting)
  • Philosophical Hook (starts with ideas, thoughts, opinions)

 We had fun coming up with our own opening lines and had a discussion about the importance of chapter endings.  We left with lots of information, ideas and helpful advice.

 Caz Goodwin