Appendix A: Examples of Hooks

In today’s Journal

* Appendix A: Examples of Hooks
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Appendix A: Examples of Hooks

Note for Journal readers: This is currently one of only three appendices in the older book, Writing the Character-Driven Story.

This appendix harkens back to Chapter 5: Writing the Hook. You might want to re-read that chapter, then come back to this.

This appendix won’t appear in Writing Character-Driven Fiction. Instead I’ll include a few hooks in the chapter on Writing Hooks.

But for now, since I already said I’d share these with you, here you go:

All of the following hooks are from published short stories or novels. The first section are from some of my own older short stories and novels. The others are from a few professional writer friends.

Note: If you own Writing the Character-Driven Story, I have deleted some of the weaker hooks I included in that book. I have also revised some of mine.

My sincere thanks to the writers who allowed me to use hooks from their works. Each of them have many more stories and novels than those I have listed here. I hope you will find their works and purchase them.

From My Private Stash of (Older) Hooks

From The Clearing

The night was dark, the air heavy. A foghorn sounded in the bay down below the coastal hills. It was driven flat in the pattering rain.

From Confessions of a Professional Psychopath (this is my personal favorite)

Of the three wingback chairs in my library, only one is upholstered in human skin. There’s a reason for that.

From Body Language

The dark Louisiana night draped heavily over the swamp, absorbing sounds and collecting scents. It smelled of ancient things and evil things and people and purposes long forgotten.

From Comanche Fire

Jade Talbot spurred his horse to a gallop. He leaned forward in the saddle as he drew his Remington .44 caliber revolver. And the realization washed over him that he was a dead man.

From Wes Crowley, Texas Ranger

A loud knock came on the door of Corporal Wes Crowley’s room at the Amarillo Inn. “Crowley, I know you’re in there. C’mon out.”

From The Marshal of Agua Perlado

In the Fisherman’s Wharf Cantina on the bay at Agua Perlado, Wes Crowley and Miguel Martinez touched their mugs and quietly concluded a private toast.

From A Little Time

The Blue Goose Café & Truck Stop looked as if it had been crammed into the red-clay roadside cutout in the piney woods just outside Florentine, Alabama.

From “The Oldest Debt”

The ambulance screamed into the yard, its siren winding down. The revolving lights drew streaks across the dust cloud that hovered.

From “Soft as a Breeze”

It’s been twenty-six years since the world imploded. But those scratching sounds crept back into my head.

From “Coffee? Perhaps Tea?”

Sometime in the past, Mr. Wilson had misplaced his mind.

From “The Unfortunate Case of Agatha Bitters”

Agatha Demon Bitters was an angry woman, and not because of her name.

From “Mrs. Featherberry”

When Mrs. Featherberry came to town, she walked directly down the middle of the street, skirts bustling, little dust devils forming, swirling and dying in her wake. And for some reason everybody stayed up on the boardwalks.

From “Finding Harold”

Mavis Harshbarger was not in a good mood. She bustled into the Riley Drug & Grocery Store in her small-print floral dress and her flat-soled dust-colored pink house slippers. She resembled a long, broad garden, albeit one built on odd, undulating hills.

From “The Maid’s Pulse”

Eugene stood in only his underwear on the far side of the bed, his back against the wall, his hands clasped to his mouth.

From “The Unfortunate Life of Thomas Mercer”

The Reverend Thomas Mercer staggered along the road, the palm of his right hand pressed hard against the gash in his abdomen.

From “No Better Day”

Late in the day, to one side of the two-rut road, an old man sat alone on a rock.

From “Paper Hearts”

At 3 a.m. the world is quiet as a grave.

From “Sordid and Organized”

In the dim basement, I moved from one stainless steel table to the next, a small orange hose in one hand, a slick steel spatula in the other.

From “The Day They Came”

The day they came for us the sky was drizzling, and it had been for days. Like it couldn’t quite make up its mind to just let go and rain. The pit patter pit all but drove us nuts as we sat in the Quonset hut and waited.

From “Tradition”

Through a heavy silver mist, the old adobe church sat just behind the cemetery to the left. The buttressed walls remained strong, but the roof had caved in. The steeple sat atop what was left of the bell tower, which had set itself down behind the front wall.

From Other Professional Fiction Writers

From “New Blood” (Steven Wedel)

The basement door opened slowly, silently, on well-oiled hinges. A long-fingered pale hand reached through into the darkness. There came the sharp click of a switch, and electric light exploded into the cellar. The seven naked people below lay unmoving on their cold steel tables.

From “Latent Lycanthropy” (Steven Wedel)

The girl stood out like a ballerina in a morgue.

From A Texas Elegy (Don Johnson)

Sometimes a man’s expectations come down to very little at the end. A few minutes’ relief from the pain. A few words of comfort from someone he trusts. The thought that, for a little while at least, he’ll be fondly remembered by someone.

From Credo’s Hope (Alison Holt)

Blood smeared the mattress where Bibi O’Dell had fallen after she’d been shot. Given her occupation, hooker, and her drug of choice, meth, I wasn’t surprised when she told me to go stuff myself after I asked who’d pulled the trigger.

From Credo’s Legacy (Alison Holt)

I sat across from a man who had a white smile painted on his face. White and red circles surrounded charcoal grey eyes that misted over as he vehemently denied kidnapping his ex-wife’s latest boyfriend. As he spoke, he fiddled with the curly orange clown wig he held in his lap.

From Caldera (Dan Baldwin)

“Call me Bitter. I am 117 years old.”

From Sparky and the King (Dan Baldwin)

“Fer Chrissakes, Jack, you’re getting blood on the customers!”

From Bock’s Canyon (Dan Baldwin)

“You goin’ up against a .44 with just a pen knife, kid.”
“It’s all I got.”
“It ain’t enough.”

From Vengeance (Dan Baldwin)

The old woman started screaming around 10 p.m., screams muted by the duct tape across her withered mouth and tightly twisted around her head.

From Desecration (Dan Baldwin)

“Dem bones, dem bones, dem… dry bones?” Naw, that’s not it. The man with the red-lined eyes wiped a bit of drool from the corner of his mouth.

I also strongly recommend almost any of the hooks used in any works by Ernest Hemingway or Ray Bradbury.

And remember there are hooks at the beginning of scenes and chapters too.

When you read anyone else’s work and feel yourself pulled into the story (or scene or chapter), after you’ve finished reading the story, go back and consider the hook. Study it.

Does it make you want to find out what happens next? If so, how does it accomplish that?

I hope this gives you some good ideas for your own writing.

Next up, Appendix B: Some Fiction Exercises. Talk with you again then.

Of Interest

Stop putting your wet iPhone in rice, says Apple. Here’s what to do instead

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 1260

Writing of

Day 1…… XXXX words. To date…… XXXXX

Fiction for February……………………. 40199
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 157803
Fiction since October 1……………… 460858
Nonfiction for February……………… 29200
Nonfiction for 2024…………………… 61160
2024 consumable words…………… 218963

2024 Novels to Date……………………… 4
2024 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………… 86
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)…… 239
Short story collections…………………… 31

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.

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