- Paperback: 260 pages
- Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (April 12 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1582974578
- ISBN-13: 978-1582974576
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.1 x 17.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 308 g
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #379,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go Paperback – Apr 12 2007
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About the Author
Les Edgerton (MFA, Vermont College) is a novelist and author of Finding Your Voice. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories 2001, Kansas Quarterly, Arkansas Review, North Atlantic Review, Chiron Review, and many others. His honors include a Pushcart Prize nomination, Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination, and an Indiana Arts Commission Fellowship.
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The story-worthy problem.
Historical timelines form the backbone of the skeleton upon which to hang my novels. Now suddenly Edgerton gives me the concept of the story-worthy problem. Now I recognise that my 'backbone' has gained a spinal cord, a.k.a. the nerve centre of the work. I've used this concept intuitively for many years, but this little book has suddenly put it into a logical, visible objective, a way for the writer to keep a constant eye on the far horizon. Good stuff.
Edgerton is an easy read: perhaps deceptively so. He repeats and repeats a point until you could scream: but keep on going because there's another important point coming up. He has been criticized by other reviewers for using his own work as examples: but every author knows most deeply his own work and his motives for that work. And no, Edgerton is not the best writer in the world. But he sure knows how to teach. And THAT, my friends, is the whole objective.
After writing novels for many years, and after reading every 'how-to' book out there on the subject of writing novels, 'Hooked' defined stuff that I hadn't read elsewhere, and it dug a few things out of my intuitive back brain and brought them to the front where I can consciously put them to use to strengthen the structure of my writing.
In Les Edgerton's book, "Hooked - Write fiction that grabs the reader at page one and never lets them go" he describes in broad strokes, fine strokes and with examples how to achieve what his subtitle proclaims.
According to Edgerton, you can't write the opening until you know in significant detail who your protagonist is and what the story is about.
To do this you must first identify your hero or heroine's "storyworthy problem", that would be the problem that is just below the surface and is gradually revealed as the story unfolds. From that discovery, and Edgerton urges you to drill deep to find out what's really bugging your protagonist, comes the inciting incident.
This is where the story begins, the moment where the status quo is upset and the protagonist sets about to resolve it. The inciting incident presents the first indications of the bigger issue, the storyworthy problem.
Don't start with backstory - bringing the reader up to date on your protagonist's life, start with "trouble" - an incident presented in an action filled scene that incites your protagonist and reader to carry on to resolution.
A provocative opening sentence, an exciting inciting incident giving a glimpse at the storyworthy problem and you're on your way.
Complicated? Maybe, but Edgerton hammers it home again and again (with examples).
Hooked may very well be the most important book you'll read about writing. Edgerton writes in non-academic, easy to understand language, includes entertaining examples and even gives agents and editors the last word on the most common mistakes made in the manuscripts they see and, you guessed it, a bad beginning ranks right up there.
Edgerton's prescription on how to come up with a good story opening is actually more than that, a lot more. It's the formula for a sound story structure.
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