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Bob Nailor

Sailing The 7 C's - Lesson 2 of 7

Today I will discuss the 2nd C we will be sailing - CAPTURE.

This is the hook that catches the reader's attention. This is the hardest sea to journey out onto and although a seemingly calm one, beware, it is very deep. Whether it be a boat, yacht or ocean liner, (short story / article, novella, or novel) each of them have an anchor, a hook so to speak, which is usually attached at the front of the vehicle. It can take you a great amount of searching to find your treasure — that line to capture your audience — in the depths of this sea. If you don't grab your reader's full notice in the first sentence or paragraph, you won't have a reader. This is your bounty and treasure. Only a handful of readers will continue to read something found to be boring in hopes that it will get better. Perhaps years ago a writer could drag on for the first fifty pages before getting the reader's attention. Today? No! You'd best have it in the first page, if not the first paragraph. Better yet, grab them with the first sentence! You don't need to have this sentence to start your story but you will need it before you finish. Some writers find that grand opening after they've completed their story and this may hold true for you. Just remember, you have to sail all seven seas which means if you skip this one early, you will have to come back to it.

Using an example from a short story I wrote "Sea of Regret," this is my capture moment.

Of all the things he remembered, there was only one he regretted: Shara Ki. Shipwrecked…

You are caught in the web of mystery of what my character could be regretting, who or what is Shara Ki? Is it a girl? A love? A town? A religious element? Also, with just one word of the next sentence, your imagination has been piqued with the idea of being shipwrecked. On what exotic island has he landed? The reader's attention has been captured.

This is where a short story or article, a novella and a novel decidedly agree in the most compact manner.

There is no second chance on this sea, so don't waste a lot of time floundering about — a direct course is the best plan of action.

As stated earlier, this is a critical and very important aspect of your book but it needn't be something to fine tune at the start of your writing. In another story I wrote, it wasn't until I had completely finished the project that I was able to go to the beginning and write the opening segment that would grab my readers. My original start was good but it lacked that oomph necessary to grab and hold the reader. I was only engaging the reader and as many a person has come to discover - an engagement can quickly be broken. Make sure you put the power into the first sentence and paragraph and hook that reader and anchor them into your story.

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onisha Ellis
In my blogs, I frequently end up moving my opening to the closing and my closing to the opening. Sometimes i just write paragraphs to corral my random thoughts then fit them together.
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Elyse Salpeter
That hook is why everyone these days is trying to start every story with a bang - no one has time anymore to ease into a story. Have you noticed that? But you are so right - that hook is the key to getting someone to keep reading. Great tip!
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