Clover’s Thanksgiving: A What Matters Most Deleted Scene

Hey warriors! I’m so sorry it’s been so long since I wrote a regular post, but here we are, back to writing! In this post, I took a What Matter Most deleted scene, edited out any spoilers, and analyzed why I didn’t include it after the first round of edits. Hopefully this post will be fun and perhaps helpful! Let’s dive in.


Clover’s Thanksgiving

“Move out of my way, darlin’! Would you get the casserole out of the oven?” My mom orders, speed-walking past me with a pot of mashed potatoes. It’s Thanksgiving, and, surprisingly, my house is a hectic place. It rarely has any action, but today my mom is waitressing her own family and my dad is praying he won’t be fixing his own things. Having seven cousins, two uncles, and three aunts in your house when you’re used to two adults who aren’t often home and one quiet teenager is a wild adventure. 

I think about this as I pass Uncle Jack and try to ignore Nora and Patrick’s loud arguing on my way to the commercial oven that my mom thankfully talked my dad into buying for her last year. If we didn’t have that, this would be an even more hectic place. Mom’s fabric oven mitts sit on the counter, waiting for me, so I slide them on, smiling at the floral pattern. She really needs new ones, since I bought these for her when I was six, but they’ve protected my mom’s hands as she’s baked many desserts and meals. I pull on the metal handle of the oven, releasing the delicious aroma of the Irish potato casserole. I reach for the casserole, and I’m about to pick it up when Sean grabs my shoulders. I jump, almost launching the casserole, but thankfully it remains in the oven. I glare at Sean as I actually take it out. “You do realize that would have burned both of us, right?” I scold him.

Sean’s green eyes are wide as he stares at me, but as I scold him, he has the decency to blush. He’s taller than me, but he’s only twelve. He, Uncle Joseph, Aunt Maeve, and Nora came all the way from Ireland to visit us on the most family-oriented American holiday of the year. “Sorry, Clovsie,” he says, his voice cracking awkwardly and his Irish accent in full swing. 

I roll my eyes at the nickname. “Just think before you act next time, ok?” I use my foot to knock the oven door closed again and I set the casserole on the counter.

“Thanks, darlin’,” Mom says, giving me a tired smile as she grabs a thermometer to check the casserole. 

I nod. “Anything else I can do?”

She shakes her head, even though I know there’s plenty I could help with. “Just go enjoy your cousins.”

“Ok. Let me know if you need help though,” I tell her. 

She leans over and hugs me, her apron smelling sweet and savory like all the food she’s been cooking.  “Don’t worry about me. I’ve got it under control.”

I don’t really believe her, but I walk into the living room where Nora and Patrick are still arguing, and Makenna, Liam, and Jaime are sitting on the couch on their phones, glancing up at the drama once in a while. Keira, the youngest cousin at age six, is playing with a toy in the corner of the room, but she keeps looking at the older ones, wanting someone to play with. I decide to see what’s happening between Nora and Patrick and then play with Keira, so I walk closer to the war zone.

“YOU BROKE IT! STOP DENYING IT!” Nora screams. Her Irish accent makes it almost feel comical, but in her hand is an iPhone 12 with a cracked screen. She’s sixteen and has a boyfriend who she said she was supposed to call about now, so I can see why she’s mad.

Patrick’s face is red with rage, and his muscles are bulging as he squeezes his hands into fists. He boxes, and I wouldn’t get in his way if I were Nora. Plus he’s almost nineteen.“STOP ACCUSING ME! THE ONLY FREAKIN’ THING I DID WAS TAKE IT FROM THE CAT!” I’m grateful Keira’s in the room, because otherwise Patrick might curse. 

“YOU JERK! A CAT DOESN’T BREAK A PHONE.”

As if to prove her wrong, Cheshire, who’s been sitting on the coffee table, jumps down, swishing his tail, and nearly knocks Patrick’s phone to the floor. 

Patrick’s eyes go wide as I dive for the phone, catching it. 

“Sorry, Nora,” I tell her, getting up and handing Patrick his phone. “Cheshire is a rather obstreperous cat.”

“What the heck does that mean?” she asks. She still looks mad, even though she knows by now that Cheshire’s at fault. “Do I look like I’m in the mood for your big brains stuff?” The way her dark brown hair frames her face and her green eyes shoot daggers, she reminds me of a scarier Ryleigh.

I blush. “Sorry. It just means that he’s hard to control.” I avoid adding that she’s rather obstreperous as well. 

Nora rolls her eyes and sits down to call her boyfriend. Apparently the phone still works.

I turn to walk toward Keira, but Patrick grabs my arm. “Thanks, Clovsie,” he says. “She’s…” He bites his lip, glancing over at Keira. “Crazy.” 

I shrug. “I mean, everyone has their good and bad moments.” I refuse to throw anyone under the bus, especially not my family. 

Patrick grins, his dark eyes lightening up a bit. “I don’t see you having a bad moment though.”

I roll my eyes, smiling. “Thanks, but I’ve had plenty.” It’s all I can do not to think about my stupidity these past few months.

He shrugs. “I haven’t seen any.”

I almost say “do you want to?” but then I realize that Patrick wouldn’t be scared in the slightest and that it would be a curious thing to say, so I shrug back before walking over toward Keira. 

Keira beams at me when I sit down across from her and holds up her stuffed cat. “This is Princess Emily Matthew. You wanna play?”

I nod, keeping a straight face even though I’m laughing inside. Keira and I play with Princess Emily Matthew until Mom calls us for lunch. 

As the cousins and I stampede into the dining room, I smile. I have a lot to be thankful for. Especially the fact that my name isn’t Princess Emily Matthew.


Why I Cut the Scene

Since What Matters Most was a NaNoWriMo novel, I was in the depths of fall and surrounded by preparations for Thanksgiving. The idea of a thanksgiving scene had bubbled below the surface from nearly the beginning, so I finally decided to write it. When I was editing, however, I realized that this scene just confirmed again parts of Clover’s character that were already clear. We met her family, but they weren’t important here. No part of this scene has anything to do with the plot, which is why I’m able to post it. I was sad to cut it because I felt it was written well, but it does much better as an extra scene than as a part of the story.

Thanks for reading this! I’m sorry I missed Middle-of-the-month check-ins this month, but I’m open for September submissions! I’ll be sharing the official guidelines in the next post (along with a Limited Teen’s Guide to Limited Time!), but the guidelines are also on the middle-of-the-month check-ins, which I linked above. Would you have cut this scene? What’s the hardest scene you ever had to cut? What makes you cut a scene? Let me know in the comments! See you next time!

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(SURPRISE TUESDAY POST) Some Exciting Announcements and Ideas

Hey warriors! I am back again (after far too long… so sorry about that! Life is crazy sometimes.) and I have some news for you all! From writing progress to big posting projects, a lot of exciting things are happening. Let’s dive in!

Exciting Announcement #1

The first announcement is that What Matters Most is back! I’m diving into edits again and so excited to be doing so. If things go smoothly, I’ll be ready to publish it next year. However, I’m also entering a new school year and hoping to be a better student, so as much as I’d like to be able to have it done sooner than later, I’m not making promises about when I’ll have it done. I also have a new project in the works, although I won’t be saying more about that yet. I’m still working on sorting out a plan for my writing.

Exciting Announcement #2

Even more exciting than that: I’m launching a new series about creating your dream blog, with all the things I’ve learned over time. It will most definitely be over here on Words, but it may also be on Living the Blogging Life at some point. It’s still in the works, but the series will guide you from idea to launch, featuring everything you need to know to make it solid, enjoyable, and consistent. So many bloggers struggle with gaining an audience, writing consistently, finding post ideas, getting response, and being unique. This post series will pull together what I’ve learned and some of Living the Blogging Life’s best posts. They’re amazing and I recommend every blogger follow them. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to work with them on this, although I have no definite times in mind for even my posts yet. Still, I’d love to help you all build your dream platforms!

Exciting Announcement #3

This announcement is the one I’m most excited about because it is HUGE. I’m going to be posting every day from October 25th-November 30th. Why? Because I’m going to be helping you all through Preptober and NaNoWriMo! I have the posts outlined already and I’m so excited for you guys to see them! They’ll feature tips on writing, planning tips, weekly writing check-ins so we can support each other, and so much more! I can’t wait to share all my surprises with you! But because I’m doing NaNoWriMo posting, I will not be doing Blogmas. I will return to my usual schedule or an adjusted schedule during December. And for the sweet people who are concerned that I’ll burn myself out, you guys are amazing but don’t worry! Most of the posts will be shorter, not only for my sake but because you just don’t have much time when you need to write 50,000 words in a month! I already have them planned for that reason, too. If things go well, I’ll have most of the posts already written and scheduled by the time NaNoWriMo comes around. NaNoWriMo will be amazing this year, if I can help it!

Post Ideas! (Vote in the Comments Below)

Since I’m just coming back, I have a lot of partially written posts in my drafts. These are just a few. Which ones would you like to read first?

  • Do Hard Thing Book Review
  • The Star That Always Stays Book Review
  • What I’ve Learned From Reading the Bible
  • A Limited Teen’s Guide to Limited Time
  • A Collab (Not yet in the works)
  • Snapshot: My Best and Worst Characters (+ What I’ve Learned)
  • A What Matters Most Snippet
  • A What Matters Most Deleted Scene
  • A What Matters Most Alternate Perspective Scene
  • How I Write: Song Writing
  • How Writing Has Grown Me As A Person
  • How I Write: Book Reviews
  • How I Write: Plotting
  • The Pros and Cons of Writing in Multiple Genres
  • How to Conquer Writer’s Block (Snippet From My Writing Book)
  • Random Post: Recipes for Busy Writers (and Readers!)

I hope you enjoyed reading this post! I will post again tomorrow, but after that I’ll return to my usual schedule of every Friday and every other Wednesday. What are you most excited for? What posts do you want to read? What other posts would you love to read? Let me know in the comments!

The “What’s Your WIP?” Blog Tag!

Hey warriors! Welcome or welcome back to Words! Today I get to tell you more about my WIP, thanks to Sara at Sparkle Girl! Thanks so much Sara! (And y’all, go check out her blog! It’s amazing!) This will be a long post but I hope you enjoy it. Let’s dive in! (Also… this post looks much better on the actual site, https://kaleykriesel.wordpress.com.)

Rules

  • Thank the person who tagged you & link to their blog. (Thanks again, Sara!)
  • Link back to the creator, Katja @ Little Blossoms for Jesus, & add the tag graphic.
  • List the rules.
  • Answer the questions.
  • Feel free to add snippets!
  • Tag as many or as few people as you wish & let them know they’re tagged.
  • Add a clean copy of the questions at the end of your post for the tagged.

Tag

Note: This tag is long so I tried to keep my answers short but full of information. This book contains some minor trigger warnings but nothing is explicitly mentioned here.

Has your WIP a working title? If so, tell us! If not, have you any idea of what it might be?

My main WIP is titled “What Matters Most.” I’ll be talking about it (and its sequel) for the tag today. The sequel’s title is currently No Matter What but I’m not sure it really fits the story yet.

Have you a synopsis for your WIP? If so, give it to us! If not, can you give us a blurb on what your WIP is about?

Here’s the blurb for the first book:

Trixie Alcaraz doesn’t understand people. Sometimes people care, and sometimes they don’t. Like her parents, who don’t care for each other and left her with her older sister, and like her sister, who seems so caught up in building a future she hardly sees Trixie. So when it seems that the popular kids at her new school are caring, Trixie happily jumps into their midst… only to find out that she still feels alone.

Clover Montgomery is hard on herself. Even as her blog grows in followers, she can’t help but wish that she knew how to speak to people offline the way her best friend Amelia does, and when people say mean things, she’s prone to believe them. When she encounters bullies, she begins to inwardly tear herself apart.

Amelia Standish feels forgotten. As the middle child and only girl in her family, she wonders if she’ll ever be as popular as her best friend, Clover, or the new girl, Trixie. When she sets her mind to get noticed, it hardly seems to matter who’s doing the noticing; as long as they’re popular, she wants them to see her. When popular boy Wyatt begins to pay attention, she’s determined to do whatever it takes to keep it that way.

A little bit of chance and their hidden desires blaze into a fire of friendship when the girls meet. But as each is confronted with the question of who they are and what they believe in, things start to fall apart. Is friendship worth preserving if it exposes your brokenness? And how do you save what already seems gone?

I won’t reveal anything about the second book’s plot simply because it isn’t written yet and would spoil the first.

Have you a working/mock cover for your WIP? If so, show us! If not, have you an idea in mind?

One is in the works for What Matters Most! It’s going to be a watercolor painting of some key things from the book with some fairy light. My sister will be painting it, once I get a picture of the objects to her. Which… hadn’t quite yet happened. But I’m also brainstorming a similar but different one for the sequel.

How did you get the idea for this story?

I’d wanted to do a story about friendship with three plots that meld into a fourth for a while, but I wasn’t sure how. Then I signed up for my first NaNoWriMo and I decided “Ok, if I’m going to write this, I’ve got to figure it out now.” So I brainstormed some things that affect teen girls today and decided to write a school story as realistically as I could. I didn’t want to load it with stereotypes and mean girls without purpose. But writing a school story realistically when I’m homeschooled is a real challenge. Hopefully I can pull it off. The second book really just came because I couldn’t leave my characters after I finished What Matters Most.

How long do you think it will be? Is it longer or shorter than you thought it would be?

The first is around 50k right now and that’s after the first round of edits. It’s shorter than I wanted it, which is kind of disappointing but I do know some things that I might be able to successfully bring out more to enhance the plot. If they work, I’m expecting it to at least reach 53k. The second might be longer but it will probably be around the same size.

Who’s your favourite character so far?

I want to say all of them but I really have to say Noah Hamilton. He’s in both books, in the first as a side character and in the second as a main character. He. Is. A. MOOD. He looks stoic and unhappy, is extremely intimidating on the outside, and doesn’t speak much. But when he does speak… he’s a total marshmallow on the inside. He just hides it away and sometimes pretends he isn’t. He’s blunt and to the point but not one to hurt with his words without a reason. He’s fiercely loyal and protective as well as gentle and caring. I am obsessed with him…. He has flaws, but man is he the best. Is it bad that I have a crush on a character I created?

What’s your favourite memory related to this WiP?

Ooh… that would probably be the day I wrote 6k and met my NaNo goal. But there’s so many memories of laughing and stressing and pouring everything on this book I don’t exactly have an answer. I don’t yet have much for the sequel, but the first chapter is currently one of my favorite things I’ve written.

Any special person(s) who helped create it?

Oh gosh… I’m going to make you all wait for the acknowledgments page whenever it publishes simply because I have so many people who have helped me and pushed me forward. I’m so insanely lucky.

What’s your favourite scene so far (if you can tell about it without spoilers!)?

I think the least spoiler-y favorite is the scene where Noah and Clover really meet the first time. She’s so scared of him even though he’s just helped her with something. He proves in that moment that there’s a sweet side hiding underneath all the intimidating layers. Clover also surprises herself in this scene, but I think explaining that would spoil. And, as mentioned for the sequel, my favorite scene has to be the first scene in chapter 1. But I won’t spoil…

Can you give us a snippet?

… or maybe I will spoil from the sequel, just a little.

Here’s an edited portion of that scene without major spoilers from Noah’s perspective. Trigger warnings: blood, mention of death.

“I force myself to pack my old guitar into its guitar case slowly, telling myself it isn’t that big of a deal. Guys and girls hang out all the time, and when they’re our age, it normally gets forgotten in about four weeks. I’m dreaming too big. Picking up the case with my right hand, I adjust my hat with my left before walking out the door, through the hall, and into the living room. Nodding at my dad, who’s sitting in the old armchair, I open the front door. “See you, Dad.”

“Love you, Noah,” he says, his deep voice tired. He coughs softly and then falls silent. His eyes are sleepily trying to close, even though his glasses are still on and his book lies open in his lap.

“You too, Dad,” I tell him, not really feeling like smiling now. He over did it at the store stocking shelves again. I can see it in his face, in the way his arms limply sink into the threadbare armrests, in the way he’s just sort of melted into the chair. Frowning, I walk outside and shut the door behind me. Her house is pretty far away, so I start walking quickly, not wanting to be late. The sun that felt so right just a little bit ago feels overly optimistic. A girl shouldn’t be liking me if my dad can’t have my mom because of stupid people. A girl shouldn’t like me if my dad can’t have his leg, an actual part of him. And even more than just a girl, … a beautiful, super smart girl like [her] should definitely never like me. Kicking every crack in the sidewalk in our neighborhood, I ask the cement silently how come I get to have such a good life when my dad can hardly do his job without feeling exhausted. Then I reach The Concrete Block and I force my eyes up and away quickly. I can’t look. I force myself to breathe like I’m fine, but I didn’t mean to see it.

The Concrete Block is a reminder of all I lost, all the stupidity of this world, all the reasons I don’t deserve this. The Concrete Block has splotches of red where nobody bothered to clean the blood and where it’s stained forever. The Concrete Block is where the screams and sounds came from, the ones I heard all that way away and that haunted me for so long since even though I didn’t know the girl. The Concrete Block is where I first really knew what my mom might have suffered when she died. And if I look, I might break. So I don’t look and keep walking, wishing I hadn’t agreed to hang out tonight.

Sorry for any tears caused lol.

Is the story still what you thought it would be or has it thrown you a couple curveballs?

I definitely didn’t see anything from the sequel coming, nor several things from the first book… I couldn’t even begin to list the curveballs if I wanted to.

Is there a Bible verse, poem, hymn, picture, or quote that helped shape this story?

For WMM I think Abbie Emmons’s cover for 100 Days of Sunlight inspired me most, although I know the quote “When people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them,” from Maria Popova sums up the theme of the book fairly well.

When and where have you done most of the writing so far?

Mostly sitting on the floor…. For some reason I work best there. To be specific, I wrote WMM sitting on the floor of the library we have in a corner upstairs. I did most of it in the evenings of last November for NaNoWriMo

Where do you get inspiration for this story?

I remind myself of all the girls out there who keep getting told to ignore what certain people say but still don’t know what they’re worth. I remind myself of all the people reading books that don’t relate to their real lives and wonder “when will I find a book that I can really believe can happen and find help for my situation from?” Those are the biggest ways I’ve been inspired, but not the only ways.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Actually this book has totally changed that. I was a total pantser and now I will never again write a book without plotting it first.

Do you have a little ritual before you start writing?

Not really. I look over the outline and whatever I’ve last written and just dive in.

Are you thinking of publishing this story?

Yes! Both should be out by 2025 at latest, but WMM will be out (hopefully!) next year.

What things have you learned while writing this story?

I can. That’s what I’ve learned. I can write characters I don’t share much experience with. I can write every day for a month. I can write 50k. I can plot. I can write something that can make a difference. I can.


I hope you learned something new and enjoyed this post! I’m going to leave this open to anyone who has yet to share their amazing book with the world. Here are the questions:

  • Has your WIP a working title? If so, tell us! If not, have you any idea of what it might be?
  • Have you a synopsis for your WIP? If so, give it to us! If not, can you give us a blurb on what your WIP is about?
  • Have you a working/mock cover for your WIP? If so, show us! If not, have you an idea in mind?
  • How did you get the idea for this story?
  • How long do you think it will be? Is it longer or shorter than you thought it would be?
  • Who’s your favourite character so far?
  • What’s your favourite memory related to this WiP?
  • Any special person(s) who helped create it?
  • What’s your favourite scene so far (if you can tell about it without spoilers!)?
  • Can you give us a snippet?
  • Is the story still what you thought it would be or has it thrown you a couple curveballs?
  • Is there a Bible verse, poem, hymn, picture, or quote that helped shape this story?
  • When and where have you done most of the writing so far?
  • Where do you get inspiration for this story?
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser?
  • Do you have a little ritual before you start writing?
  • Are you thinking of publishing this story?
  • What things have you learned while writing this story?

Is there anything that surprised you in the post? Anything you’re excited for in my book? Whats your book about? Let me know in the comments!

Snapshot: My Best and Worst Hooks (+ What I’ve Learned)

Hey warriors! This post is the first in what might become a series of snippets from my journey as a writer. This post is on hooks, those first sentences meant to draw you in. A blogger and Ydubber I know, Lydia K, recently posted this post on her blog and it looked like so much fun that I thought I’d give it a go. So here we are today! I’ll be analyzing 10 of my hooks (even from different drafts) from worst to best and explaining why they’re bad or good in my opinion. Then I’ll share some of my favorite hooks from books with what I’ve learned from them! This will be a long post, but I hope it helps you! Let’s dive in!

Note: This is based on my own experience as both a reader and writer. Some things may not match your experience or your audience.


Age 10-12

I began writing when I was about 7, but I really began to treat it as a passion and dream instead of a hobby when I was 12. Not because I knew how or knew what to say but because people began to really enjoy my words and I became more able to write large amounts. Here were some of the hooks of books that encouraged me to think I could:

If, by chance, you read the “Southern Cooking” magazine, you might find a wonderful article.

Cooking Canine, age 10-11


Analysis: This hook is… something. The grammar and arrangement doesn’t present me well because it’s overloaded with comas. The lone adjective I used was nondescript, not drawing much interest.
What I could have done to improve it: If we remove “by chance” we lose two comas that muddy the sentence. We could also replace “wonderful” with a more drawing adjective to make us question what’s within the article.

Maddie Henderson was a student at the prestigious Hailee Quinn academy.

Academy Action, age 11-12


Analysis: We began this one by stating a fact, which is my current favorite way to write a hook. However, this doesn’t leave us with much to question or prove. If I read this sentence now, I wouldn’t want to continue.
What I could have done to improve it: If I had begun with a fact that left room for questioning, the reader would have been forced to continue. “Maddie Henderson wasn’t your average student at your average school,” isn’t perfect either, but by stating something vaguely I make the reader more curious. How do we know this? What does that mean? It encourages them to continue.

“Elizabeth Jackson had always been part of the guardian ponies.”

– The Pony Revenge, age 11-12


Analysis: This one is extremely similar to the previous example and has the same problem. However, I did make it slightly more curious. What are the guardian ponies? Is she a pony? Why has she always been involved?
What I could have done to improve it: This one needs to be vaguer still. “She had always been one of the revenge ponies,” is both clearer and more interesting. Who is she? What are they? We know “she” is a revenge pony, though, which means she is a pony. I prefer it, but that’s a personal preference.

Age 12-14

Once I was 12, I really began typing up my stories. Typing them up instead of writing them by hand was far quicker, meaning I could write much more. I also felt extremely inspired because I could share writing more easily and could get help from new writer friends.

The 13th century scientist Eustace sniggered at the tool before him.

Second Moon, age 12

Analysis: This hook is much better although the subject isn’t vague. Why is he sniggering? What is this tool? What is it for? This hook is one that makes us ask questions by diving straight into the narrative. I enjoy this one.
What I could have done to improve it: It could have done without mentioning that he was a 13th-century scientist in this portion. I could have just said “The scientist Eustace.” I can’t think of any other improvements.

“Intro to Atmosphere’s High School, by Ms. Solar Energy: Welcome to Atmosphere High, home of the Comets!”

-Universe draft 1, age 12

Analysis: This isn’t a good hook at all, at least not in my opinion. It’s full of information we never see again in the story. We never again mention the Comets, so that shouldn’t matter. Ms. Solar Energy never appears again either. Those are about the most fascinating things in this hook. I also repeated “Atmosphere High” twice. It’s wordy and doesn’t have much connection to the plot.
What I could have done to improve it: This sentence really can’t be fixed. It’s the first sentence of a snippet the main character reads from a pamphlet so I could introduce the school. However I didn’t need to introduce it in that way. Always start with the protagonist in a chapter 1. If you do a prologue in third person, you can choose another character, but this strategy can cause us to fall in love with another character first and that can cause problems. The main character is meant to be most important, so starting with them makes it clear who’s priority from the beginning.

The short man with white hair that practically glowed smiled as he stared at the large map in front of him.

Universe draft 2, age 13

Analysis: This is an example of starting a story with a prologue from the perspective of the villain. It works, but it can cause us to start sympathizing with him before we meet the main character. While you do want a villain you can believe in or even feel bad for, they can not be more loved than the main character.
What I could have done to improve it: Why is his hair important? I could easily have made it less central: “The short white-haired man smiled as he stared at the large map in front of him.” I also should have made it clear that he is not the protagonist. I need him to appear sinister or at least a little less likeable. “The short white-haired man smirked at the large map in front of him and gave it a quick nod.” This shows he has a plan and the smirk makes his intentions seem less friendly.

The long braid of periwinkle hair with silver highlights swung back and forth as Foggy Skye walked up the stairs nervously.

Universe draft 3, age 14

Analysis: Again with the hair…. When you start with physical details, the reader is given random information that isn’t relevant to them yet. They haven’t had a reason to care about the character, let alone care what they look like.
What I could have done to improve it: Instead of using the hair for description, it could have set the mood. “The long braid swung back and forth gently across her back as Foggy Skye nervously walked up the stairs,” is a more interesting sentence. Why is she nervous? But it still doesn’t grab me as much. It’s not my favorite.

It was strange, but it was her.

Little Red, age 13-14

Analysis: This is short and sweet, a declaration that we don’t understand unless we read more. This is much better. What’s strange? What does it mean, that it was her? However, the opening scene that followed had little relevance to the plot and did little for character building.
What I could have done to improve it: The sentence itself is good. However, I needed to put more thought into keeping the reader hooked and connecting the scene to the plot. The hook may be the first one or two sentences, but the reader needs to remain hooked throughout the story. Confusion and poorly written scenes don’t help that.

Age 14-15


After I joined The Young Writers’ Workshop my writing greatly improved. I wrote my first novel-length story in less than a year.

As she gazed into the box, Eloise felt a tear fall.

Box of Leaves, age 14

Analysis: This sentence isn’t awful, but it isn’t too drawing either. Yes, we wonder what this box is and why she’s crying, but we don’t care much for her yet. Our first impression of her is that she’s crying over a box.
What I could have done to improve it: This sentence comes across as quite dramatic and unnecessary. It would have been better to write something from just before that moment as the hook. “She hadn’t expected to find the box. But as she gazed into it, Eloise felt a tear fall, frozen in time.” This one is personal preference, though.

“When everyone you love runs from you, you start wondering if anyone will ever stay.”

What Matters Most, age 15

Analysis: This one is the best hook I think I’ve ever written. Why? Because it states a thought as fact that makes you wonder who the character is, why they know this, and how they know this is true. It points us to their past as we dive into the present story. It uses simple language to describe a feeling, meaning it cuts deeper than flowery language. I recently revised this one and currently have no thoughts on how to improve it.

Some Favorite Hooks and Why They Work

These are some of my favorite hooks from best-selling authors.

The old woman remembered a swan she had bought many years ago in Shanghai for a foolish sum.

The Joy-Luck Club, Amy Tan

Analysis: This one is powerful because it supplies interesting information but leaves us asking questions. Who is she? Why did she buy a swan? What did she buy it for? To find out, we have to keep reading.

“Before you agree to have Joseph come live with you, ” Mrs. Stroud said, “there are one or two things you ought to understand. “

Orbiting Jupiter, Gary D. Schmidt

Analysis: When I read this line, I instantly wonder about many things. Who is Joseph? Who is he coming to live with? Who is Mrs. Stroud? What ought they understand? He also instantly makes Mrs. Stroud seem realistic by using common speech. We also are instantly plummeted into the narrator’s perspective. This is done extremely well.

Henry Smith’s father told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you.

Trouble, Gary D. Schmidt

Analysis: Trouble immediately begins with the character and a belief he and his family have that directly affects the plot. This is actually one of the character’s misbeliefs. We also wonder who their father is and why he believes this. I definitely am hooked by a story starting with a fact or opinion that needs to be proved.

When did this fairytale become a nightmare?

Dust, Kara Swanson

Analysis: By asking a vague question, Swanson plants the question and more questions in our minds. When did this fairytale become a nightmare? What fairytale? What happened? Who’s speaking? We are eager to learn more.

Conclusion

When writing a hook, consider these points:

  • The hook is the first impression readers get of your story and your writing, right after the cover.
  • The hook should be clear and express your writer’s voice clearly.
  • If you begin with poor grammar and confusing words, your reader will not enjoy your story as much.
  • The hook should not satisfy the reader. It is meant to pull them in by causing them to have questions that are only answered by reading further.
  • A hook filled with information that doesn’t matter to the reader will not draw a reader.
  • A hook that is irrelevant to the plot will lead the reader to the left when you need them to go right. It is more of a flashy distraction than a hook.
  • Be careful who you use first in your story as they are the first person in the story the reader might get attached to.
  • Short hooks and questions that are written well can cause the reader to ask lots of questions in a few words.
  • Too much emotion in a hook is like switching channels to a death scene halfway through a show. You don’t care enough about the character to really feel the emotion and be affected by it.
  • Facts and opinions make great hooks because a reader wonders how the character knows that or why they believe it. If these facts or opinions are meant to relate to your audience, they instantly attract those people.
  • Using a misbelief or past pain in a hook can plunge us into the plot, although you don’t want to do this too quickly. Jumping into ice water isn’t fun.
  • If you are writing in first person, the hook should instantly establish what the character thinks, hears, or sees.

I hope this post was helpful to you! Which hook was your favorite? What was something you learned? Was there anything you disagreed with? What’s your best hook? Let me know in the comments!

Freedom: A Snippet of What Matters Most

Hey, writer and readers! Welcome or welcome back to Words! Today’s post is a snippet from my book, What Matters Most, that I plan to self publish later this year. I hope you enjoy!


I’m still not sure what love is, even though I’ve lived with my mom in New York City for years; why would Oklahoma be any better? The same sister who didn’t care in the Big Apple isn’t about to care in her fancy house in Oklahoma, will she? The mom who seemed to care so much even when she was busy doesn’t want me gone now, does she? I don’t have any answers. But as I stare at my room in the first apartment in the United States I ever lived in, I do have memories, both in the room and in the city.

This is where I first spoke English, where I learned what the United States meant. 

This is where I broke my first bone, where I lost my baby teeth, where I started dance, where I met Chloe and Belle and Emma, where I became a citizen of my country.

This is where Chloe taught me how to sneak out without my mom knowing, where Liam first said he liked me, where Liam first hugged me goodnight, where Liam and Chloe and Belle and Emma all said goodbye, angry that I would leave them for middle-of-pathetic Moore, Oklahoma. 

This is where we first smiled at a U.S. sunset, where my dad left, and where my sister fled.

And now Mama is making me leave. I don’t understand, and maybe I never will. I sigh deeply as I gaze around the room, the moonlight and the lights of the city shining through my small window to illuminate my whole life thus far: my dresser, where all my fashion dreams live. My desk, where my art is randomly splayed across the top.  My closet, filled with my books and more clothes and a trunk full of childhood memories.

Tears creep down my cheeks, angry and afraid and… relieved. I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to see Bianca, my sister that ran away. But maybe… maybe I do want a new start. Maybe I do want to heal. Maybe… maybe this is my chance.

I close my eyes, allowing the tears to flow from my heart onto my worn quilt as I snuggle deeper into the blankets. Freedom. Wasn’t that what Mama wanted, all those years ago?

Maybe now I know what she felt. Maybe now I understand, even though I’m angry.

Funny how the more I get mad at her, the more I see her in the mirror. Funny how our stories cross. Funny how she’s ready to give up a part of herself… even if the part of herself isn’t ready to leave.

Delirium sets in, filling my mind with memories mixed with dreams. 

Goodnight, New York City. Goodnight, childhood. Goodnight, world. Goodnight, future. I’ll face you tomorrow.


Sorry to keep today’s post so short, but let me know what you think! Did you like it? Do you have any questions or comments on the passage? Do you want to see more? Let me know in the comments!