Due to the response of our past few guest blogs, we have decided to feature mystery writer J.R. Lindermuth’s guest post, HOOKS, for an additional day. Thanks to all who have participated, and please spread the word to all who would be interested!


by: J.R. Lindermuth

Your first sentence should draw the reader in. The second should compel him to continue reading.

That isn’t sage advice from some great writing seer. It’s my admonishment to myself as I begin each new story or novel. I’ve been using it since a reviewer said she was “hooked after page three” about an earlier book.

Page three is too darned late to hook most readers.

People have short attention spans and we writers need to perk their curiosity from the beginning. And the best way to accomplish it is with an opening that inspires “who,””what” or “why?”

Richard Wrights great novel “Native Son” (1940) begins with:


The second line is taken up with explaining it’s the sound of an alarm clock, which diminishes the impact. I don’t think it would work today. Modern readers are not patient critters.

On the other hand, Elmore Leonard’s opening for “Glitz” (1985)  begins:

The night Vincent was shot he saw it coming.

Now who wouldn’t want to know more about that?

I hope I’ve accomplished something similar for Shares The Darkness with “She didn’t come home last night.” You know someone’s missing. Hopefully you’ll want to know why?

Here’s the blurb for my latest, Shares The Darkness, seventh in the Sticks Hetrick crime SharesTheDarkness2series:

Jan Kepler and Swatara Creek Police Officer Flora Vastine were neighbors and schoolmates, but never close.

When Jan, a school teacher, avid birder and niece of a fellow officer, goes missing and is found dead in a nearby tract of woods Flora finds herself thrust into the middle of an examination of the other woman’s life, as she searches for clues.

As usual, the police have more than one crime to deal with. There’s illegal timbering and a series of vehicle thefts taking up their time. And there are other issues to deal with. Flora is concerned there’s some shakiness in her relationship with Cpl. Harry Minnich who seems to be making a lot of secretive phone calls.

Still Flora maintains focus on the murder. Despite evidence implicating other suspects, the odd behavior of another former classmate rouses Flora’s suspicion. Flora’s probing opens personal wounds as she observes the cost of obsessive love and tracks down the killer.

Bio: A retired newspaper editor, J. R. Lindermuth has published 14 novels and a non-jrlindermuthfiction regional history. His short stories and articles have been published in a variety of magazines. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and is a past vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.


Webpage: http://www.jrlindermuth.net

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/jrlindermuth

FB: https://www.facebook.com/john.lindermuth

FB author page: https://www.facebook.com/John-Lindermuth-175253187537/?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrlindermuth

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1005496.J_R_Lindermuth

His books are available from http://torridbooks.com/


Barnes & Noble and from other fine bookstores.





33 thoughts on “Hooks

  1. Hi Jon, thanks for visiting.

    Hooks are so hard. It’s finding the perfect storm of character, setting and most of all conflict to give the reader something to stay interested all in the first couple of pages as you say. It’s not an easy balance. You’ve also demonstrated how it follows on into the synopsis – which is where we hook our agents, editors, and publishers. Well done.

    After those first pages come the integrated hooks of the cymbal crash of the end of a chapter or scene and the need to re-hook in the first few lines of the next chapter or scene. Never let the reader find a place where they can finally put the book down and go to bed!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting post. I think the sound of the alarm would work as an opening, but not followed by an explanation that it is an alarm clock. Great first line by Elmore Leonard. Your new book sounds great!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your hook for Shares the Darkness! The hook is something I think long and hard about with each book, and I probably change that first sentence fifty times before deciding on one.


    1. Peter, I tend to be a little more patient than most readers these days. If I sense a hook coming I’ll continue reading for a few pages. BUT, if nothing grabs me after those pages, I’ll toss the book and go to another one. I believe great opening lines are important, but in some instances it might take two or three pages to lead up to that “hook ’em” line. Just my opinion.



  4. Great reminder about hooks, John. Now I’m off to look through some of my published books and stories to see if I think they were good enough. I suspect in my earlier work they may not have been so hot. Your new book sounds wonderful. Not sure how I feel with the victim having my name, though. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hook ’em and hogtie ’em. J.R., I agree in principle. But as I replied to Peter (above), I’m of the school where the hook can come in the first few pages if–and that’s a BIG if–those pages are intriguing enough to keep the reader “baited” and knowing the hook is about to be set. I agree, the opening line scenario is best, but I feel there’s room for the “few interesting pages” scenario also. Just my opinion. Great post, by the way!



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