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Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go [Paperback]

by Les Edgerton
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 12, 2007 1582974578 978-1582974576

The road to rejection is paved with bad beginnings. Agents and editors agree: Improper story beginnings are the single biggest barrier to publication. Why? If a novel or short story has a bad beginning, then no one will keep reading. It's just that simple.

In Hooked, author Les Edgerton draws on his experience as a successful fiction writer and teacher to help you overcome the weak openings that lead to instant rejection by showing you how to successfully use the ten core components inherent to any great beginning. You'll find:

  • Detailed instruction on how to develop your inciting incident
  • Keys for creating a cohesive story-worthy problem
  • Tips on how to avoid common opening gaffes like overusing backstory
  • A rundown on basics such as opening scene length and transitions
  • A comprehensive analysis of more than twenty great opening lines from novels and short stories
Plus, you'll discover exclusive insider advice from agents and acquiring editors on what they look for in a strong opening. With Hooked, you'll have all the information you need to craft a compelling beginning that lays the foundation for an irresistible story!

Frequently Bought Together

Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go + Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish + The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression
Price for all three: $35.22

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Les Edgerton (MFA, Vermont College) is a novelist and author of Finding Your Voice. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories 2001, Kansas Quarterly, Arkansas Review, North Atlantic Review, Chiron Review, and many others. His honors include a Pushcart Prize nomination, Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination, and an Indiana Arts Commission Fellowship.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (April 12, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582974578
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582974576
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Les Edgerton has published fifteen books, the latest being two novels from StoneGate Ink, the noir thriller "Just Like That", the thriller, "The Perfect Crime", the short story collection, "Gumbo Ya-Ya from Snubnose Press, and his latest, the noir thriller "The Bitch" from Bare Knuckles Press. His most popular book is the writer's text, "Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go." His own favorite is his collection, titled, "Monday's Meal," which received a glowing review from the NY Times in which he was compared favorably to Raymond Carver.

He has a blog on writing at: http://lesedgertononwriting.blogspot.com/ he invites you to visit.

He lives with his wife Mary and son Mike in Ft. Wayne, IN. He has two daughters--Britney and Sienna--from a previous marriage. He teaches a private writing class online as well as a class via Skype for the New York Writer's Workshop. In the past, he has taught creative writing for the UCLA Extension Writer's Program, Trine University, St. Francis University, and was Writer-in-Residence for the University of Toledo for three years.

Edgerton is an ex-con, having served two years of a 2-5 sentence at Pendleton Reformatory in the sixties for second-degree burglary. The sentence was the result of a plea bargain where it was reduced to a single charge from 182 burglaries, two strong-arm robberies, an armed robbery, and a count of possession with intent to deal. Today, he's completely reformed and you can invite him into your home and when he leaves you won't have to count the silverware... Prior to this little "trouble" Les served 4 years in the U.S. Navy as a cryptographer who had "up close and personal" experience with the Cuban Crisis and the beginning of the Vietnam War.

After making parole from Pendleton, Edgerton obtained his B.A. from Indiana University (Honors of Distinction), where he was elected Student Body President, and then received his MFA in Writing (Fiction) from Vermont College. He teaches workshops nationwide on writing, specializing in classes and seminars on the writer's voice and story beginnings. He also coaches writers on their novels and the fee is $100 per hour.

He was born in Odessa, TX on Feb. 13, 1943 and grew up in a variety of places, including Freeport, TX and South Bend, IN. He is the oldest of five and has two surviving sisters (his sister Jo passed away) and a brother. Growing up in Freeport, his family ate all their meals at his grandmother's bar and restaurant, and before the age of twelve, Les had worked every job in the bar, including serving alcohol and food (those were different times, before the government assumed the job of parenting and protecting us from ourselves). When he turned 12, his grandmother told him he was old enough to learn the taxi-cab business which she owned and he began his first day on the midnight shift. An hour after he began, one of the cab drivers shot and killed another driver who was tormenting him with a rattlesnake, and he made the call to the police. Later, he was called on to testify at the man's trial and the defendant was found innocent as he was acting in self-defense.

These days, he's working on a memoir, a new writer's how-to, several novels, several nonfiction projects and appearing at various workshops. He invites readers of his work to contact him. His contact info is on his blog at www.lesedgertononwriting.blogspot.com/. His newest novel is a noir novella forthcoming from New Pulp Press titled "The Rapist.

His novel "The Bitch" was a finalist in the Snubnose Magazine "Best Novel" in the Legends category and was the winner of the best novel in the 2011 Preditors & Editors award. His first novel, "The Death of Tarpons" was awarded a Special Citation from the Violet Crown Book Awards.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
197 of 216 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not So Great August 14, 2007
This book, like others have written, features great instruction on the art of writing modern fiction, particularly that imperative hook.

For me, however, the author's often insightful suggestions are completely obscured by his own partiality. He cites 4 to 5 of his own openers (because they're just that great), and truthfully, they don't warrant the inflated, self-confessed praise that Edgerton gives to himself. Other examples are largely extracted from short stories, not novels. These two genres are separated in necessity and style by miles; therefore, Edgerton's haphazard melding of the two detracts from his overall goal.

If you're willing to overlook the author's self-indulgence and swallow the superficial, hollow and often displeasing examples of other "amazing hooks" provided in this manual (as I reluctantly did), then by all means, go for it. But I found that, by the last page, my suspension of disbelief had long disintegrated. There are too many examples of poor, elementary and sometimes laughable writing in this book to believe that all of the publishing industry looks solely for 7th grade style, bony, misdirected language and various forms of mind-numbing instant gratification when it comes to the search for worthy literature.

Please note that my above comments do not negate that this book has some formidable insights and admirable suggestions regarding structure and the ten components of an opening. But I think that many excellent writers out there deserve better advice from a better source. So, whether you decide on this nifty blue book or not, remember this sentence:

"He was so mean that wherever he was standing became the bad part of town."

"He was so mean that wherever he was standing became the bad part of town.
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Hooked! May 30, 2008
Let me start by saying I am a writer.

I completed my first novel early last year and eagerly sent out queries to publishers and agents. Many requested partials, so I mailed the required 50-100 pages, and then waited. All turned me down. After two more rounds of queries, partials, and rejection letters, I decided I needed a little help. So I headed to the local bookstore where I found the wonderful book, Hooked.

I devoured it. Underling, highlighting, folding corners, and re-reading until I could apply everything I learned within it's pages to my manuscript. And it paid off.

My novel, This Time You Lose, was just named a finalist in the Strongest Start Novel Competition. It has also climbed the ranks to number 5 (out of over 500) in the Readers Choice Top Ten Novel Competition. In addition, I have now secured an agent in New York, and am putting the finishing touches on my manuscript before re-submitting it to publishers.

All of this within 3 months of purchasing and reading this book.

I've recommended this book to other writers, both online and in person. And I continue to refer back to the pages of Hooked with each new story I write.

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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST-HAVE for every writer May 20, 2007
This is probably going to be one of the most treasured books on craft on my library shelf. The author claims it's a book about beginnings, but it's about a whole lot more than that!

It analyzes what makes a brilliant beginning to a novel, and talks about the components of an opening scene--and what makes a potentitally good beginning go bad. All well and good. And here is the true beauty, I think. It then goes into discussing the Inciting Incident as a trigger for the Surface Problem and the difference between the Surface Problem and the Story-Problem. You see, the surface problem (or problems, which is the usual case) are the obvious things your character and your readers are aware of, but the story problem, the deep down issue which nags at the character and drives the plot forward, and which may not be evident until the plot's resolution at the very end, is the key to the success of the entire novel. The reader does not necessarily have to know and/or understand the story-worthy problem before the end and in many cases shouldn't. BUT THE WRITER MUST.

And I didn't. Not until I started reading his book and started really thinking about my book. And then all the issues that I'd been confused about, all the questions about lack of focus, everything that had been one great big question mark in my mind, suddenly vanished. I know where I'm going now. I know what I'm about. And I don't have to do a great big rewrite. A small tweak here and there, perhaps, but no big rewrite. And the writer's block that has had me blog-hopping, playing with prompts and looking for other excuses not to sit down and work, has vanished as well.

I wish it had come out years ago.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THE Book About Beginnings November 12, 2007
Book Review
HOOKED: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go
By Les Edgerton
Writer's Digest Books, 2007


Books about fiction-writing tend to fall into one of three categories:
· A-Z books, which address a wide spectrum of fiction-writing issues
· Quasi-biographical books, which are as much about the author as they are about writing
· Narrow-focus books, which take an in-depth look at a specific aspect of fiction-writing

Hooked, by Les Edgerton, focuses on one aspect of fiction-writing: beginnings. In general, readers should expect a narrow-focus book to:
· Adequately address its topic of focus, compiling and reorganizing the body of existing information
· Debunk misinformation and out-of-date practices about the topic
· Offer new ideas and insight about the topic
Les Edgerton has accomplished all of these in Hooked.

Why a whole book about beginnings? As explained by Edgerton, "The simple truth is, if your beginning doesn't do the job it needs to, the rest of the story most likely won't be read by the agent or editor or publisher you submit it to."

Edgerton addresses misinformation and out-of-date practices from a historical perspective and as they relate to literary fiction. Whenever an author sheds new light on a subject, there is a risk that someone will be offended: no exception here. Writers, of any genre, in the habit of beginning stories with hefty servings of backstory or description get an earful.

Those who believe that studying the classics is the key to understanding fiction may be turned off by Edgerton's take on beginnings: ". . .
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you write?
If yes then buy this book. I've been reading writing books for the better part of fifteen years and this book made everything that I have learned "click. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Chris Osman
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful & straightforward
Easy, entertaining read with lots of meaningful insight. This book contains info I will put to use right away. Thanks, Less.
Published 1 month ago by Roberta Carr
5.0 out of 5 stars Hooked by Hooked
I start many books on the craft of writing and finish few. They lose me, often very quickly, getting bogged down, say, with a writing system that works for a particular author but... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Linore Burkard
5.0 out of 5 stars good topic
This book really helped me as I have written two books. Every author should read it especially given all the changes in the limited attention spans of the people today thanks to... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kent Hinckley
5.0 out of 5 stars Something I'll Not Soon Forget!
This seeming "Writer Instruction Book" is a cleverly disguised novel. I was the main character. You will be too if you read it. It's a tragedy, goes something like this... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Liam Sweeny
5.0 out of 5 stars An important little book
This book is about the importance of the first few pages of your manuscript -- not only that but even more important, those first few words.
Published 5 months ago by Nolen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for writers
Well written, informative and a great place to learn about the craft of writing. I recommend to anyone who is trying to write a solid novel.
Published 5 months ago by Reader & Reviewer
5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful, and very readable
'Hooked' by Les Edgerton showed up as a recommended read on Amazon recently, and having benefitted from previous good Amazon advice, I clicked 'buy'. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Annette
3.0 out of 5 stars This book was a disappiontment.
The author repeats and repeats to the point of become boring. I did find some helpful points in it, but had to plow through unnecessary information to find the good stuff.
Published 7 months ago by Murph
5.0 out of 5 stars Revolutionized My Thinking On Story Openings
Volumes and volumes have been written on the craft of fiction writing, but none so up-to-date and relevant as Les Edgerton's "Hooked. Read more
Published 7 months ago by J. Larson
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