S is for … Set-Up

April 21, 2012

In screenwriting, the “set-up” is the portion of the screenplay that introduces the characters and the action.

The set-up needs to catch the movie-viewer’s attention, pique their interest, make the viewer want to know what happens next.

The set-up is important in writing as well.

In writing, especially in the writing of picture books, the set-up is done by means of a “hook sentence” — a sentence that catches the reader’s attention, piques the reader’s interest, makes the reader eager to turn the page and find out what happens next. Writers of picture books no longer are able to indulge in a relaxed “once-upon-a-time” opening for a story, they must grab the reader’s attention immediately. a good set-up, a well-written hook sentence, is essential.

I belong to the Children’s Book Hub, an online “salon” for writers and illustrators. For a few months in the Hub Forum, several of us did a weekly writing exercise in which one member would supply a list of five prompt words each week, and the participants would write a sentence using each word. We often used this exercise to hone our skills in the crafting of hook sentences, and it was great practice. Try it yourself, either on your own, or with fellow writers. Choose five random words, and write hook sentences. Work at learning to write great sentences that will grab and hold a reader’s attention.

For more thoughts on hook sentences, check out this blog post, “Get the Hook!” by Emma Walton Hamilton, my writing teacher and mentor, and the originator of the Children’s Book Hub.

How do you get your reader’s attention?

 

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6 People reacted on this

  1. I am still working on my hook…thanks for the reminder of its importance, Beth! I try to get my readers attention by setting the scene in a way that will draw them in. I suppose the hook is a segue into the setting, which can also awaken curiosity to read further. Enjoy your weekend…

  2. For my reviews, I always pick something unusual in the book (or in other words – a hook) that happpened to the main character or his/her friend. For books, I don’t know. I haven’t written any that got published… yet. I think an introduction as a set-up. Hmmmmmmmm… Yep. I will think this over… Hmmmmmmmm…
    Erik /:-\ (thinking guy)

    1. You do great reviews, Erik — I think you’ve got the idea for good hooks. And somehow, I have a feeling you’ll be published some day. (and I love your “thinking guy”!)

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