To catch a fish, you need a good-

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Recently I’ve  been thinking a lot about first lines of books and  how to really peak a reader’s interest. Yep, you guessed it, I’m thinking about hooks. The book I’m currently working on My Bloody Revenge (working title) has an okay hook, but I think it could be a bit better. I really felt stumped on how I could make it better, so I’ve been reading the first lines of my favorite authors to see how they managed to reel me in.

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“I never used to keep track of the phases of the moon.” Fool Moon, Jim Butcher

“It first happened when I was five.” Vampire Kisses, Ellen Schreiber

“On the day Claire became a member of the Glass House, somebody stole her laundry.” Glass Houses, Rachel Caine

“The day I died started out bad and got worse in a hurry.” Undead and unwed, MaryJanice Davidson

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When I read these lines, I instantly want to read more of the book (well, that’s the whole point of a hook) but I can’t seem to figure out why. What do all these lines have in common. the only thing I can see that’s the same about these lines is that they are all kind of unusual. I mean almost no one keeps track of the phases of the moon. What could happen in a five-year-old’s life that would be that memorable? Why would someone steal laundry? And I would think that dying would be bad enough for one day.

My first line on the other hand:

“I often dream about the night you die,” Robby said, in a voice just above a whisper.

It’s kind of lacking something, isn’t it? What it’s lacking, I have no clue, but it’s definitely lacking something.

Blarg! Why are hooks so hard!

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Lessons learned in a locked bathroom

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This is actually a photo of my bathroom door

Several years ago I was forced to read the book Hatchet by Gary Paulsen for an early education class. I hated it, I mean I really, really didn’t like it at all. But the strange thing was, I had no clue why I didn’t like it. It had a well developed main character, it had a lot of action and adventure, being a child’s book it wasn’t too complicated, I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t until very recently when I had a little adventure of my own that I finally figured out why.

It happened like this:

I used the toilet, I washed and dried my hands, and then I pulled and twisted on the bathroom door knob. “Plop” It fell off and into my hand. I slowly opened my hand and stared down at the little, round door knob sitting merrily in my palm.

Hmm, that isn’t good.

Well, crud. How was I supposed to get out now?

First I tried to fit the stem of the door knob back into the hole it came out of. Nope, that wasn’t happening.

Then I grabbed the towel rack that was attached to the door and tried to jiggle the door open with that. Nope, that didn’t work either.

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Fort Potty

 

Then I stood back and thought about my problem for a little bit. I wanted to get the door open, and as far as I knew there were only two ways to get a door open. I could try to get the locking mechanism in the door to unlock, but the hole the door knob fell out of was dark and I wouldn’t be able to see what I was doing, so that wasn’t a great option. Or I could pull the pins in the door hinges, much easier.

The first pin pulled out really easily with just my fingers. The second pin was another story. It was painted into the hinge (and maybe welded) and it wasn’t leaving without a fight.

I used a nail file to clean as much of the paint off of the  hinge pin as I could and then got a good grip on it and tried to pull it out with my fingers. It didn’t work. Then I got a toothbrush and used the handle to pry the pin out. That didn’t work either. Then I twisted strands of dental floss together into a cord (yes, I’m serious) wrapped one end of the cord around the head of the pin, and the other end around the floss box to use as a handle, and tried to yank the pin out like that. Waxed dental floss is really hard to hold on to. It didn’t work.broken Fbits5

It took over two hours and twenty different plans for me to finally fashion a toothbrush handle into a shiv and use that to pick the lock of the bathroom door.

“Woohoo, I’m free, I’m free!”

I cheered, I laughed, I gave my cat a hug. And then I realized why I didn’t like that book.

Never in the hours that I was trapped, did I sit down and feel sorry for myself and wait for prince charming to come along and save me from my potty prison. I got frustrated, I dealt with failure after failure, but I never stopped trying to solve my own problems.

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Walk this way

The main character of Hatchet did a lot of brave things, and he over came a lot of little obstacles while trying to survive in the wilderness. But from the beginning of the book to the end, he always clung to the idea that some prince charming/rescue plane was going to come a long and whisk him away from his problem. His problem was he was stuck in the woods, but he stayed where he crash landed for a crazy amount of time, like months and months. In half that time he could have just walked home if he had tried to solve the problem himself.

Even as a very small child I would have never waited for someone else to come and save me.

So, that’s why I don’t like Hatchet.

Bathroom door fixed, mystery solved.

Interesting, very interesting

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The curious incident of the dog in the night-time, page 116

Recently,my Young Adult Literature professor has been raving about this book, The curious incident of the dog in the night-time, by Mark Haddon. He constantly mentioned it, so finally I decided to pick it up from the library and try it out (I wasn’t going to buy it, because what if my professor had terrible tastes in books and I ended up hating it).

 

Any how, I read it in a couple days, it’s kind of a short book, and I thought it was really interesting. The story certainly captured my attention, but I’m just not sure if I actually liked it.

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The curious incident of the dog in the night-time, front cover

The curious incident of the dog in the night-time, is about an 15-year-old boy who is autistic. The whole book is this autistic main character (Christopher) telling the story about trying to find the killer of a neighbor’s dog. But really, it’s more about him learning of his parents’ break-up and him dealing with a home life that was suddenly turned upside down.

For someone that has a condition in which he needs order and consistency in his life, learning about his parents’ break-up was catastrophic to him. In fact, the news actually made him run away from home and travel over 100 miles to London by himself to see his mom.  In non-autistic person terms, it would be like swimming across the Atlantic Ocean just to see someone. At one point, he was even nearly killed!

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You’ve got the general idea of what this is

The book definitely had lots of action in it, and the main character was surprisingly likable, but by the end of the book I didn’t really feel very good. I think a big problem for me was that there wasn’t any happy ending. It’s not like a fairy godmother showed up, waved her magic wand, and made all Christopher’s emotional/developmental problems go away. His family was still broken up. Nothing seemed to get any better in the main character’s life, if anything, things seemed to be a little worse for him. It just kind of made me depressed at the end of the book.

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My favorite page in the book, it really cracked me up! (page 2)

Note to self, don’t listen to any professor’s book recommendations!