Lesson Ideas: Writing Captivating Hooks

No spells or magic could be casted to change things. There was no app. Heck, iPhones weren't even invented. I had to do things on my own. There was only one way, practicing. 

So I would practice all day every day. I would do it in church, in class, in the car, and even in my sleep. My favorite place to do it was in secret. No one and - I mean NO ONE - knew about my....


I was teaching my students how to use a captivating hook to get started on a short story. Using voice expression, I read the hook above. The plots of each of the stories that the students wrote to follow that hook varied in size, tone, and subject. I didn't give the students any writing guidelines or topics. The only rule was that their story had to be relevant to the hook. 

Warner's is a great example.
***

No spells or magic could be casted to change things. There was no app. Heck, iPhones weren't even invented. I had to do things on my own. There was only one way: practicing. 
So I would practice all day every day. I would do it in church, in class, in the car, and even in my sleep. My favorite place to do it was in secret. No one and - I mean NO ONE - knew about my
... My drawing. 

Nobody knew how I could configure shapes on my paper. I drew buildings, faces, animals, and landscapes. Everything that the mind could think of. It all started with one blue pencil. But as the 1920s flew by, I got myself a job, painting props at the local theater. Recommended for management, bumped up to Regional Manager! Only 8 years after my kin got to vote. I was the first woman ever to achieve something like this in my company, and it all started out by trying new pencils. 

I exeled and learned to love the movies, but when I got home, I took out my canvas and ink. Once my work was finished, it was redone, then edited, it seemed that there was always something to do. But as the 30s came along, and the great depression hit, I needed to conserve materials. There were pay cuts all across the board, and I was a very large part of that board. But fire me? No. I was much to valuable. I continued to move up, from Regional Manager to Director of Sales to Treasurer and Vice President. 

Through the 30s and 40s I lived the corportate life. But World War 2 had just finished, and Jews flooded the country like never before, taking over theaters by the hundreds. My Company shrunk to just one Theater in Baltimore. I was the CEO. 

As the 50s slowly rolled in, so did civil rights. Riots changed everything. Our theater room was used as a police retreat and the whole theater closed for a year. As much as I had denied it so many times in the past, I was no longer living or thriving in anyone's corporate atmosphere. 

The 60s went fast without much change. But I was a social wreck. My dates went like interrogations, my therapy sessions? More like sobbing sessions. My good years were far behind me, but I refused to give in. After high blood pressure caught up with me, I was forced to retire. 

After 40 years of corporate life, being a lovely old lady next door in the 70's was tough. I continually threw things out. Everything that reminded me of the past was gone. But on one of my escapades, I stopped dead. I found an old worn out blue pencil.

***

I love this piece because he took on the perspective of an elderly woman, who takes us through time, reminiscing on her life. 

What's most interesting is how different his story is from the actual story that I wrote for this hook. Take a look:

No spells or magic could be casted to change things. There was no app. Heck, iPhones weren't even invented. I had to do things on my own. There was only one way, practicing. 

So I would practice all day every day. I would do it in church, in class, in the car, and even in my sleep. My favorite place to do it was in secret. No one and - I mean NO ONE - knew about my diary. 

I wrote all of my stories and secrets there. It was my best friend. Until one day - one of the worse days of my life, my sister stole my book. She wrote, "I hate Kandy." all over it. 

"Val! Why would you write this?! What is wrong with you!" My grandmother yelled and accused me, based off of my sister's lie. 

"I didn't write that. That's not even my hand writing Mommy..." I prayed that she believed me but instead she smacked me, so hard that my lip bled. 

Then, she took my journal and wrote, "I hate Val!" all over it. 

That hurt more than my swollen lip. At that moment, I stopped writing. 

***

It amazed my entire class to hear how different my story was from all of theirs. This was a true memoir from my childhood. After reading this, I was able to smoothly transition into the next assignment, which was to write your own memoir, identifying the exact moment that you became a writer. My memoir obviously isn't complete. I started out with a captivating hook, discussed my love for the craft, and then revealed a challenge that I faced as a writer. The next steps for this piece are for me to talk about how I overcame those challenges and became a writer again. 

I'll post the final piece soon. 

The reason I didn't initially show them the completed version of my "When I Became a Writer" memoir was because I wanted to focus on ending with cliff-hanger. This was a great example of how a cliff hanger should leave a story feeling complete but still makes the reader want to know more. 

I'll share their stories that ended with amazing cliff-hangers soon!

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