As a Wattpad writer, you want to create a story that immediately hooks your reader. You want to grab their attention from the very first chapter and keep them invested throughout the entire story. In our latest episode of Story School, we discuss the three key elements of the most popular reads on Wattpad. The three ingredients are Immediate, Engaging, and Commercial. In this post, we’ll dive into the first ingredient: Immediate.
Immediate means getting right to the point. You want to engage your audience from the very first chapter, giving them a taste of what the reading experience will be like. Your first chapter should make a promise to the reader about the story to come, whether it’s the heart-stopping meeting of first mates or the shocking discovery of a gruesome murder in a sleepy town. To make your story immediate, follow these tips:
Put the hook in the first chapter
The hook is the scene or sequence that opens your story, introducing your reader to the main character or the world where the story takes place. At Wattpad, we know the most successful stories on the platform are the ones that hook the readers in the very first chapter. The primary function of the hook is to get your readers to keep reading, so you need to get them emotionally invested in the story in the first few pages.
Get your readers emotionally engaged
A fast, effective way to get your readers to connect to your story is to put your characters in an emotional situation. Describe how the characters’ emotions manifest in their thoughts, feelings, and actions. By having your story open with a situation that emotionally impacts your characters, you will emotionally impact your reader. Have your character feel something or face something to trigger a similar emotional response in your reader, who will now be emotionally invested in your characters.
Frame your hook around a significant change in your character's life
The moment when everything changes for your protagonist is the perfect hook for your story. This moment should be a turning point in their life, something that sets them on a new path or changes their world in a significant way. For the reader, it’s a moment that should be memorable, impactful, and provide foundation for the rest of the story.
Case study: Match Made in Quarantine by @katfeatherly
The first chapter of Match Made in Quarantine by @katfeatherly does a great job of introducing us to the characters, their conflict, and the event that changes everything. We open with the conflict between the two main characters that illustrates who they are, what their relationship is like, and why they don’t like each other. They’re experiencing a moment that changes their relationship, which makes for a great hook and a dynamic, compelling opening chapter.
Why is the hook so important?
Your hook should emotionally engage your readers, act as an introduction to your character, their motivations, and the plot, and tonally mesh with the rest of your story. It’s the key to keeping your readers invested and wanting more.
While developing your hook, think about the reader as much as you think about the character. Imagine your reader. What do they need to get emotionally invested in your character? What will excite them? What will scare them? What will make them want to fall in love?
Remember to start with an emotional bang. Open with your protagonist, introduce their goals and stakes, and avoid worldbuilding and backstory. You have the entire story to fill your readers in on any crucial backstory and world-building. They will care way more about the world of your story once they’ve fallen in love with your characters.
If you want to create a story that immediately hooks your reader, you need to focus on getting your readers emotionally invested. Keep these tips in mind and watch your story take off on Wattpad.
Want to learn more about Immediate, Engaging, Commercial—the three key ingredients to making your story a hit? Watch Story School Episode 2 and download our guide now.