"How," new writers everywhere are inquiring plaintively, "can I make the first few paragraphs of my story interesting enough to keep a reader hanging on until the end?"

That very question has baffled amateur fictioneers throughout the world since the first primitive novelist put charcoal to cave wall. But no longer!

Today, dear colleagues, I am going to let you in on a secret.

There is actually a specific formula that you must follow to produce a hooking story intro. That formula is as follows.

First of all, whatever you do, never start with dialogue or action. Fiction readers are generally timid, slow-witted creatures, all too easily confused or frightened away.

Begin, if you can, by describing the scenery, weather, and time of day. Nothing gets a reader in the mood for a good long story like telling him the exact hue of the sunset clouds and the precise manner in which the trees are waving in the wind. Use as many adverbs as it takes!

Speaking of weather, if you're trying to build up some suspense, be sure to have an ominous wind howl over the Kaer'kringlestack (or some other suitable proper noun) on its way to wherever your opening scene takes place. The Kaer'kringlestack (or Kaer'kringlestack analogue) can be a desert, a river, a castle, a large monster anything, really. Don't tell the reader what it is, though. If he studied the painstakingly labeled three-page map at the start of the book like he was supposed to, he should already know.

When you're done setting the scene, go ahead and introduce your main character. At this point, the reader will be drawn into the story to such an extent that he is yearning to know absolutely everything about the world you've created and the people therein. So go ahead and start by telling him all you know about your protagonist. Spell out his racial history, personal background story, daily exercise routine, and of course physical description down to the tiniest detail: from the mysterious flecks of genetically impossible color in his eyes to the sensuous texture of the yarn of his socks.

And if you really want to play it safe, give him a sword. A big one.

After that, good sirs and madams, you are free to begin the story. Your reader will be hooked so hard, his mom will need two pairs of pliers to get the book out of his hands.

I guarantee it! *

* [An error occurred while processing this disclaimer.]

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