I picked up a new John Grisham book at the library earlier this week, and when I had a few free minutes, I sat down to get started on it. The book begins with an inner city youth basketball game coached by a Yale law student. Kyle notices a man at the game who definitely doesn't fit in with the crowd, and he's puzzled. When he heads for home on a snowy night, the same man approaches him, convinces him he's an FBI agent and gets Kyle to a hotel to meet with another agent. Only the 'agent' is not with the FBI, and he has damning evidence concerning a stupid college situation Kyle was in on. He'll gladly squash the whole thing if Kyle will cooperate. And the story moves on from there.
The point is that the author hooked me way back at the basketball game in the first few pages. The questions in Kyle's mind became my own. And I have not been disappointed as I've read farther into the story. Mr. Grisham hooked me and has elicited a cheering section of one for his protagonist. I'm a third of the way into the book, and I'm fearful for what is going to happen to Kyle, dying to know how he can slow down the spiral of happenings in his life, and who will be sacrificed before he solves his problem. Is it any wonder that John Grisham is one of the most successful writers of our times?
Does he write major literary tomes? No. But he does tell a darned good story, and he has a knack of hooking his reader quick as a jackrabbit in an Arizona desert. If you've ever read a book that goes into lengthy description and detail for pages and pages, or even chapters, before the story actually begins, you'll appreciate writers who put the facts to pull you in at the very beginning. In today's speed-driven world, we want to know immediately that this is a story worth spending time with.
So, hook 'em fast and hold on with two clenched fists as your story progresses. If you do, readers will be signing your praises.