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  • P. Barrera

4 Puzzle Pieces to Hook Your Readers

(originally posted on

W = (Who, What, Where, and When)

Right up front, give your readers what they want, information.

Show your readers an image that hooks them from the beginning.

1. Who

  • Introduce your main character and make the reader care.

  • Show the reader who your characters are by their actions.

  • Make them care not only about who your MC is, but who they will become.

  • Help your readers connect with your character.


  • What’s happening to the characters, or their surroundings? (Jump right into the action.)

  • What are they thinking or saying? (Don’t censor them. When people think no one hears them, in their head.)

  • What is plausible? At least give your story some realism and believability.

  • Something interesting might happen, but for the story to hook your readers, what is happening must affect the characters.

3. Where

  • Where are your characters? Are they coming or going? (Literally or emotionally, give the reader a hint.)

  • Where does the story take place? (The character should be there for a reason).

  • Does the where make sense?

  • Anchor your reader without excessive exposition or narrative that bogs down the reader.

  • Use sights, sounds, textures, temperature, tastes, and smells, but don’t get carried away with too many purple adjectives.

4. When

  • When goes hand in glove with where.

  • Time frame is important. However, you don’t always need to say at 3pm on this date, this happened.

  • Let the reader know when your character is living.

  • Don’t leave them floating like an astronaut without a clue as to when the events are happening.

  • Writing a historical novel? Make sure to show the readers the time matches the characters.

Hitchcock’s Axiom:  A good story is life with the dull parts taken out.

Guest post contributed byJean Cogdell. Jean’s work is featured in Fiction Southeast, The J.J. Outre Review, Once Upon A Time Anthology, What The Dickens Magazine, Flash Fiction World Anthology, available for purchase at, other publications include YAREAH Magazine, Squawk Back Magazine, and Angie’s Diary Online Writing Magazine. Check out more of her articles on her website.

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