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?