How's that for a catchy title?
No, my post has nothing to do with Peter Pan and evil pirates with hooks as hands. I am talking about that wretched hook at the beginning of the book without which nobody will want to read on.
Am I being facetious? Why, yes.
To an extent I agree with the general idea of a hook. What I rebel against is how it seems to have taken on a life of its own in the writing circles, not unlike query-writing. Agents and other gatekeepers are now lamenting that often the manuscripts fall short of the standard set up by the very polished queries.
This isn't the first instance I am dissenting under the yoke of the hook --in my nook of books. (Sorry, being rebellious and frustrated brings out the groaniest of jokes from me.) So why am I ranting right now?
Because I am considering yet another idea about the structure of my YA novel. My original scaffolding had the prologue (oh wait, prologues are no-nos. So I'll just call it the first chapter) showing the inciting incidents. I would introduce my two protagonists (wait again; multiple POV characters are frowned upon) at the moment their lives are changed by the deaths of a loved one. Over the course of the book, we see how the girls deal with their grief, their scenes interspersed with short, flashback chapters (speaking of no-nos...) that show the relationships between each girl and the loved one.
The other night while mulling over a different problem of the novel, an idea occurred to me: that I shouldn't start with the deaths but I should just show these two girls having difficulty navigating their lives. That way, I set up a question, a mystery of sorts: why are the girls acting and thinking this way? I'll keep the flashback chapters to show the relationships. It's only in the middle of the book, after readers have come to know those loved ones that I reveal their deaths. Hopefully the mourning and grief my protagonists feel will be shared by the readers who have come to know them.
But who wants to read a book that starts with two girls starting a school year pretending everything is fine?
Where's the hook?