Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Writing a Hook for Kids

How do you write the perfect hook for kids and teenagers?   There is no magic formula, but there are two sets of information that I like to think about:  form and content.

What will your perfect hook look like?  Some popular hooks include:
  • A Question
  • Dialogue
  • Sound
  • Shocking Numbers or Statistics
  • Emotions

When I was in college I had a teacher tell me that if I wanted to get a teenager's attention, I only had to relate what I was saying to money, food, or dating.  It doesn't seem to matter if it's a class discussion or a book--money, food, and dating hold most teens' attention.  I've found a few other topics that most kids find universally interesting.  They include humor, trouble, danger, adventure, body sounds and odors (especially flatulence, burping, vomit, etc.), and insecurities.  Most kids also like to see inept adults and kids with a few adult tendencies

Remember the hook should throw your article, story, or book into meaty action you want the kids to remember.  No back story here!  Your hook should be more riveting than the first five minutes of a show on the Disney Channel and more engaging than your reader's current Best Friend Forever.  Those are, after all, your competition. 

Do you have a favorite hook?  What types of content do you think kids like best?  I'd love to know!


Laura Marcella said...

I agree with you! Body sounds and odor is especially true for middle-grade readers, mostly boys I'd say because even adult boys still find gross bodily functions hilarious.

That's an interesting thought your teacher had to say about relating lessons to money, food, and dating to capture kids' attention. I bet it's totally right. If I was a junior high or high school teacher, I think I'd definitely try that out!

nutschell said...

Personally, I like an opening line that focuses more on content, but I have to admit that form does seem to catch the eye a lot quicker.

Amy O'Quinn said...

Great post...and so true!
Thank you also, Carla, for coming by my site and commenting! I look forward to coming back to read more of your posts/ideas!
Have a great day~
Amy O'Quinn

Carla said...

Laura, I'll admit, as a teacher I used those high-interest connections to what I was teaching! It seemed appropriate, though, to tie the material into their lives!

Nutschell, I think it's important to have quality content in a form that's accessible and interesting to young readers.

Amy, Thanks for coming by! I look forward to getting to know you better!


AllMyPosts said...

Money food and dating can be good ways to hook TeenAgers for sure!!

Sometimes, military fiction is good too!!!

with warm regards
CatchyTips for Writers

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