**UPDATE: Congratulations RKCharron for winning Laura's giveaway! We'll contact you shortly**

Writing Hooks - and Giving Away a Prize!

Thank you, Hooked on Romance, for opening your blog to me today. I love the theme “hooked,” and it immediately brought to mind an article I wrote about writing hooks into the end of each chapter of a novel.

I’ve always heard that putting a great hook at the end of the first chapter would entice that dream agent or coveted editor to want to read more. And it pertains to readers as well. I know I’ve set down books after the first chapter, and haven’t picked them up again because I wasn’t engaged, and my interest flagged.

Here’s the hook at the end of the first chapter of Secret Vegas Lives:

Valerie's forced smile slipped as she looked into Antonio's eyes. She couldn't read the meaning in his intense stare, but she couldn't look away--and neither did he.

His date broke the spell by sliding her hand into his and rubbing the side of her breast on his arm. "We should get going, Antonio."

He shook the mayor's hand and nodded to the committee in general. With one last glance at Valerie, he escorted Sherry from the restaurant.

Valerie watched them leave, feeling the aftermath of his gaze. He was angry. He knew her name. And he was obviously volatile. Damn, this wasn't turning out to be a very good day. She blinked and brought herself back to what the mayor was saying.

"That was interesting," he commented to no one in particular.

She shrugged and said the first thing that came to her mind. "He and I had…an animated discussion recently. He must still be a little worked up."

"You're quite the diplomat, Dr. Val," the mayor winked.

She smiled. Oscar had been a family friend since she was a child. He was a kind, gracious man and she liked him more every time they spoke. She couldn’t say the same for Antonio Daniato. He was an ass.

And the ass was sitting on the back bumper of her SUV when she left the restaurant a half hour later.

Oh, I love that sentence. It’s in Valerie’s point of view, and we are living the moment with her as she sees Antonio sitting on her bumper. When I first started writing, I would put a hook at the end of each chapter that was completely contrived, and in omniscient point of view. Something like, “But soon Valerie would run into Antonio again, and the results would be catastrophic.” Notice the difference between the two hook sentences?

The easy way to end your chapters with hooks, is to not intentionally write the hook, just find it in your scene. I write my whole book (and they’re over 100,000 words) without chapter breaks. I put asterisks *** between scenes and point of view changes, then I go back through my manuscript and find places where the scene’s suspense is at its peak. THAT’S where I put my chapter break.

Valerie swayed, felt her chest tighten. Oh, God, Antonio was here at Caesar’s Palace, looking for a public event to humiliate her.

Oscar grabbed her arm. "Are you alright, dear?"

She choked back the anxiety attack. "I'm sorry, Oscar, I haven't been feeling well. I think I'll find Troy and ask him to take me home."

"Of course." He gestured toward the dance floor. "I see Ryan right behind you."

She smiled, wanting to reassure him. "I'm fine. You know how it is. I've been starving myself to fit into this dress…"

He nodded. "I completely understand. You go, but call me when you feel better. I'd like to get a handle on this Antonio Daniato thing."

She leaned in for a kiss on the cheek and went to find her date.

Her brother, Ryan, stood beside the dance floor and she put her hand on his arm. "Where's Troy?"

"Monica stole your date." He nodded toward their sister and Troy dancing to Springsteen's “Born to Run.” Monica danced gracefully and Troy--she tried not to wince--did the best he could. They looked like they were having fun.

"Take me out on the dance floor. I have to talk to Troy."

"Uh-uh. I don't think I want to get near whatever he's doing. Looks dangerous. He could hurt himself and others."

"I need to talk…" Too late. She saw a face across the dance floor. Her stomach contracted. Antonio walked directly toward her. His tux fit him perfectly, his white shirt emphasizing his Mediterranean skin tone, and the gold cufflinks at his wrists catching the light. He reached into his pocket and pulled something out.

Oh, God. Her breath panted from her lungs.

His hand held a folded paper, his eyes held malice.

Ooooh, malice is always a good hook. Have you ever read those books that you just couldn’t put down? You tell yourself, “Okay, just one more chapter.” Then the end of the chapter has something so intriguing, that you just have to read on. That’s what I attempt to give my readers. The “can’t put it down” factor that an author loves to see in their book reviews.

Three days later, Antonio stood in the waiting room. Betina said, "Wish me luck," and walked into the office, closing the door behind her.

Within five minutes the door opened and Betina poked her head out. "She's not happy." She gestured. "Come on in. We'll talk her into it."

He walked into the office and closed the door behind him. Valerie sat with her legs crossed, tapping a pencil on the desktop. Her dark stare drilled into him from across the room.

As I did here, I sometimes put a chapter break at the beginning of a new scene or point of view change. It leaves us wanting to know more right away.

Another opportunity for a hook is in the blurb. A little teaser to get a reader’s attention.

Mistaken for a blackmailer, socialite Valerie Kane will do anything to keep sexy Italian crime writer Antonio Daniato from publicly exposing her, and Antonio is wickedly intent on seeing how far Valerie will go to protect her reputation.

I hope you enjoyed my mini-workshop on hooks, and if you’re an author, I encourage you to try this technique sometime. If you’re a reader, I hope you’ll find writers who keep you reading chapter after chapter, when you know you should put that bookmark in and get to sleep!

Stop by my website, LauraBreck.com, for more writing tips, excerpts from Secret Vegas Lives (available now from RedRosePublishing.com) and the second book in the series, Scandalous L.A. Desires (coming in 2010.) And check out my monthly drawing, where I give away a heart-shaped carabiner and lipstick USB drive!

I donate a portion of the proceeds of Secret Vegas Lives to The Shade Tree Shelter in Las Vegas, a shelter for women, children and their pets. Find out more about this marvelous shelter on The Shade Tree’s page on my website.

It’s a privilege to share today with you, and if you’d like, leave a comment or question and I’ll be around all day to chat. One random commenter will win a goodie bag of my promotional items.

Thank you!
Buy Secret Vegas Lives at RedRosePublishing.com


One of the primary goals of my writing is to give readers a world into which they can escape the stress of life. And a fun read for lounging on the beach or cuddling up with a blanket and a cup of tea. ~Smart Women ~Sexy Men ~Seductive Romance.

Another goal is to make a difference in the world. That is why each of my books will sponsor a community program, and a percentage of my proceeds will be donated to that organization.

I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota with my family, I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, Midwest Fiction Writers, Wisconsin Romance Writers of America, ESPAN, and Elements of RWA. I blog every Wednesday on RosesOfProse.blogspot.com

Comments (6)

On November 12, 2009 at 9:36 AM , Pamk said...

sounds like a great read

On November 12, 2009 at 10:16 AM , RKCharron said...

Hi Laura :)
Thank you very much for taking the time to post this. I really enjoyed the excerpts and the great advice on hooks. I'm going to follow your lead and put asterisks where scene changes and go back like you and do the chapter ending where suspense is peaking.
Thank you again,
Love & Best Wishes,

On November 12, 2009 at 11:18 AM , Laura Breck said...

Thanks for stopping by today Pam and RK. I have a lot of fond memories of writing Secret Vegas Lives, and I like the to open the book once in a while and just read a scene. It puts me in a good mood.

Have a great day!

On November 12, 2009 at 11:38 AM , Jax Cassidy said...

Thanks for the mini-workshop! We're so happy you were able to blog with us!

I think it's very awesome you're so committed to charities! Love that!

On November 12, 2009 at 12:43 PM , Laura Breck said...

Thanks, Jax. Giving has been a part of my life since I was young. My family is very philanthropic. I like to volunteer also, but with working full time, and writing full time, well...there just isn't time any more. But some day, I know there will be!

Thank you for having me here today!

On November 12, 2009 at 1:28 PM , joder said...

Sounds like a great read!

And thanks too for the writing tips.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com