Thor's Thoughts: Hookers and Hangers

Greetings once again, good humans. I am certain you are wondering about the title of this post. Do not despair, I mean not to discuss the scantily clad human females nor plastic clothes-holders, but literary tools to help us all draw readers into our story, and keep them reading.

I shall explain these literary terms further.

Hooker: A line at the beginning of a book/chapter/scene that immediately draws the reader into the story.

Hanger: A line and the END of a book/chapter/scene that entices the reader to turn the page and start the next section (or search for more books by that author).

As you can see, it's quite simple.

The strategy for writing appropriate hookers and hangers is similar. Strong and vivid language is the most important element. A hooker/hanger can be anything, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

Let's start with Hookers...

1) Don't start with dialogue.
Unless the line is dripping with voice, dialogue at the beginning of a scene is pointless. The reader needs to get a sense of setting and character before speech.

2) Make every word count.
There should never be any unnecessary words in your writing, but particularly at the beginning of your story, chapter, or scene. The first sentence is also a first impression, and they both leave a mark, for better or worse.

Now, on the subject of Hangers...

1) Think TENSION.
You want to leave your reader with something to remember. Make them FEEL something. Whether they laugh, cry, or throw the book across the room, readers read to feel. Leave them with something memorable, to make them want to turn to the next page.

2) Wrap it up.
It's a balancing act. You have to leave them enthralled enough that they'll turn the page, but make sure the scene is completed as well. Particularly at the end of the entire book. The way you end your story might determine whether a reader will look for your work in the future.

Here are some examples of hookers and hangers from published and self-published books that happen to be on my kindle and bookshelf at the moment...

WHISPERS IN AUTUMN, by Trisha Leigh, Chapter One:

Hooker: Before my eyelids crack open I know I've traveled again.

Hanger: I haven't got friends anywhere.

FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK, by Melina Marchetta, Prologue

Hooker: A long time ago, in the spring in the spring before the five days of the unspeakable, Finnikin of the Rock dreamed that he was to sacrifice a pound of flesh to save the royal house of Lumatere.

Hanger: Until ten years later, when Finnikin of Lumatere climbed another rock....


Hooker: More than half the time, girls who think they're fat really aren't.

Hanger: Damn brother ruins everything.

ONE, by Leigh Ann Kopans, Chapter Thirty (final chapter)

Hooker: The cold has injected a shock of vibrancy into the broad brush-stroked colors that paint the horizon.

Hanger: I think we just went supersonic.

RISEN, by Britney Jensen, Chapter Seventeen (final chapter)

Hooker: The moon was a high white orb in the sky by the time I left the motel and started the one mile walk to the university library.

Hanger: It's time for the hunted to become the hunter.

SHADOW AND BONE, by Leigh Bardugo, Chapter Twenty-two (final chapter except the epilogue)

Hooker: Dawn was creeping over Kribirsk as Ivan brought me back to my tent.

Hanger: When the tears came, he pulled me close and held me, until there was nothing left but ashes.

As you can see, hookers are more of a focus at the beginning of the book, and hangers at the end -- for good reason. But often, you can get a sense of the entire chapter from just those two sentences. Speaking of which, even within a sentence there can be hookers and hangers. Putting strong words at the end of a sentence gives it more punch. Remember these little tips and tricks when polishing your manuscript.

Any other thoughts you'd like to add? Feel free to do so in the comments.
Many thanks for reading today. Farewell.



  1. Me: sees the title of this post. "Um . . . Thor?"

  2. I love cliffhangers! But they're sooo hard in contemporaries! I mean, in epic fiction, just shoot someone or make something jump out of the shadows. In contemporaries... you have to find something that's (less violent) relevant and still hookey.

    The Hunger Games is the master of cliffhangers... not so much hookers, just the hangers. I'm not sure which I'm better at.