A good hook not only intrigues us and peaks our interest but also frustrates and gives you a sense of urgency that causes you to read further. According to Writer’s Digest, this is a simple formula. “Create the stakes (and the suspense) in your story. Show your reader something she wants, and then threaten it.”
A good example would be:
The elderly woman now on oxygen answered the phone to a Jaimacan-speaking man telling her she had won 10 million dollars. Miss Ida Mae and her husband had worked hard all their lives and had lived a good life. Miss Ida Mae’s husband, George, had passed only 13 months ago. She had high hopes of leaving a legacy for her daughters.
The Jaimacan man told her that he would be seeing her in just a few days to bring her the money. “But Mahm, Ah need you to pay the taxes. It’s only $4,000. You cahn send thaht to me aht Western Union.”
Of course, you still have to keep the interest going throughout your story. In some ways, you take your readers on a roller coaster ride. The formula continues, the appeal of your main character(s) and the stakes and suspense of the problem faced, followed by it being threatened. There are reversals and complications and many other twists and turns to make a story that will keep your reader reading throughout your book.
Why would you use a formula? Aren’t formula books terrible? Good questions. The formula discussed above works for just about any fictional writing. However, formula books are something different. That is where the same plot is reused using different characters and settings. This doesn’t work well, unless you find new and surprising things to insert into the plot.
On the other hand, many classic story plots are recycled. Almost all of the Shakespeare stories have been used over and over with success, so you cannot say that recycling plots are an issue. What becomes an issue with some writers is their use of the same plot in book after book after book. As long as people are buying their books, they will probably continue writing formula books.
Should you try to write a formula book? I wouldn’t recommend it! I suggest you tell a good story and follow its plot to its success. Using the formula for keeping readers hooked, I would recommend.