Monday, April 20, 2009

Guest Blogger: David Pereda: On Hooking the Reader…and not Letting Him Go

My guest today is award-winning author and college creative writing instructor David Pereda. He is going to talk to us about that essential element of any great story -- “the hook.” David is the regional director of Florida Writers Association's Western North Carolina division and the founder of Asheville Writing Enthusiasts (AWE). His latest novel, Havana: Top Secret, published by Eternal Press, has garnered him rave reviews and will be available in May.

Kathryn: What's a hook?

David: A first line so powerful that you absolutely have to keep on reading the story.

Kathryn: What are the primary objectives of a hook?

David: To interest the reader and to set the tone for the book.

Kathryn: What would you consider a good hook?

David: A good hook has the ability to grab you by the neck and plunge you into the story. A good hook goes beyond that initial encounter with the reader. It extends to the opening paragraph, the opening page, the first chapter, and the entire book.

Kathryn: What would you consider a bad hook?

David: A bad hook is like a piece of wood at a camp fire that stands alone and fizzles. There are two types of bad hooks – “not strong enough” or “too strong”: (1) If your opening line is “not strong enough,” the reader will close the book and go buy something else; and (2) If your opening line is “too strong” or “too good” for the rest of your story, you'll disappoint the reader too, and he’ll do the same thing.

Kathryn: Can you give us examples of good hooks?

David: With pleasure. Here are some examples from great writers:

"Maman died today; or yesterday, maybe, I don't know." The Stranger (Camus)

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect." The Metamorphosis (Kafka)

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins." Lolita (Nabokov)

"In the cold, nearly colorless light of a New England winter, two men on horseback traveled the coast road below Boston, heading north." John Adams (David McCullough)

Kathryn: Thank you for being my guest today, David. It’s been quite informative. Would you consider being my guest in the future again to discuss some more writing techniques?

David: It would be my pleasure, Kathryn. Thank you for inviting me to be your guest today.

To find out more about David Pereda or his new novel:
To become a Pereda Pal and read David’s musings at his Front Porch Chat:


Debbie said...

This is one of those times when I almost wish I wasn't the first commenter! I feel pressured to say something intelligent.
I do judge a book by that first sentence. Much more than the cover art. The title, the author's name (yes, that is important to me), and that first sentence. Those are my top three criteria for unknown works.
Today is Tuesday. You know what that means? Tomorrow is Wednesday!!

Missy said...

A very appropriate blog for today (The Hook) as I just started your book last night and could not put it down. I had to make myself stop reading at 11:00. The book is in my bag here at work, waiting for me to pick it up again at lunchtime. Meanwhile, my palms are itching to sneak and read it now at my desk. :)
I try not to judge a book by the first sentence...BUT....I am known to stop reading a book if it doesn't grab me almost right away. I have tried to stop doing that, because I am missing out on a lot of good books.
I am lovin' your book, Boop!

Janna Qualman said...

Great stuff! Thank you both.

Kim Richards said...

Hi David,
I can't wait to read your new book, Havana: Top Secret.

I agree it's important to hook a reader from the very beginning. Especially nowdays with the short attention span of today's society.

Jessica said...

Awesome interview! I love hooks. Congrats on your book, David.

Literary Nut said...

What a great interview! Thanks to you David for doing it and thank-you Kathryn for interviewing him. I do agree, the hook, is how I determine if a book will keep my interest or not. Have a happy Tuesday!

Walker said...

Hold on a second here and let me understand this right.
Guest bloggers write posts for you to post on your blog.
They don’t show up at your door wearing a nightie and carrying a little suitcase?
Hmmmm they‘ve been lying to me…..

Great interview and very informative.
I judge a book buy its cover.
Usually the inside of the cover but a half naked chick on the front helps.
Then I crack it open in the middle and see if a paragraph can entice me to start from the beginning and i have a few thousand on my racks that have and i know a new one that will be joining them soon, maybe two.

So, guest bloggers write posts eh?
Hmmmm I got to remember that for next month ;)

Anne Brooke said...

Definitely. I always read the first sentence, and if I like that then the first paragraph of a book. If they get me, then I buy it. If I don't, then it's back on the shelf and move on.



David Pereda said...

Thank you to all of you for taking the time to drop by for a visit and leave a comment. I'd like to keep in touch with each of you.

Kasie West said...

Great advice. Now to apply it.....

Angie Ledbetter said...

The hook and its importance are forever snagged in my brain now. Thank you to both interviewer and -ee. :)

Small Footprints said...

Really wonderful interview with a lot of good information! Thanks, Kat, for having him "over" and thanks to David for sharing his expertise.

Small Footprints