Authors employ many different types of narrative hooks to quickly capture a reader’s attention. A few examples of generic narrative hooks include protagonists who are unjustly accused of a crime, a scene of unnatural or extreme violence, a familiar but incongruous scenario and the discovery of a mystery.
A narrative hook happens in the first few pages for novels and in the first few sentences for short stories. The best narrative hooks are often revealed in the first sentence and compel the reader to keep reading the entire book. In his novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” George Orwell employs a narrative hook to spark the reader’s curiosity: “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” The reader immediately recognizes that she is in a world both similar and different from her own. In young adult fiction, narrative hooks are especially important. Children’s attention spans are often not as developed as adults are, and if a child reader is not hooked early on, the book is quickly cast aside. In C.S. Lewis’ “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” the author hooks the child with humor and mystery: "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." The child reader laughs at the horrid name and then is compelled to read further to discover what someone did to almost deserve such a name. Generic descriptions of characters or places, dialogue and back story are not narrative hooks. These tools of the author’s trade must be utilized to create effective narrative hooks.