My December is certainly beginning to feel a bit 師走(Shiwasu). Which means that blog posts may be a bit erratic in the next couple of weeks. However, I do need to honor my promise to you all to press on with my examination of the Craft Book of the Month--and this week's episode is about Hooks.
Noah Lukeman is a tough taskmaster, and his chapter 14 (Hooks) is no exception. Here, in the clearest of terms, he shows that he is interested in showing the distinction between someone writing for money and a writer. After he points out that Ovid said one should wait nine years after finishing one's work before seeking publication, Lukeman asks:
Does the intensity of the hook end with one line? One paragraph? One page? Of course, an opening line is a special thing, and it is nearly impossible to maintain its intensity for an entire text--yet we can look to see if there is at least some sustenance, if some traces remain. I am often amazed by how many manuscripts begin with good first lines--and good openings in general--and then fall apart; it is actually rare to see the intensity found in a first (or last) line maintained throughout a manuscript.Lukeman cautions us against thinking that a hook has to be an intense opening line. He claims that
what is impressive to the professional reader is not initial intensity but maintained intensity... I often find that manuscripts with more subdued openings tend to be the best... These writers don't write an opening for the sake of an opening, but for the sake of the story that follows.In closing the chapter with his usual exercises, Lukeman asks us to
pretend the paragraph at hand, no matter where it falls in the book, is the opening of your novel; pretend the paragraph's closing is your book's finale.Writing like this will allow for greater focus and intensity throughout the novel. For,as Noah Lukeman says, "everything in writing is cumulative."
I hope you are not running like a teacher this December. There will be more Noah Lukeman next week.