How the prologue of “The Book Thief” hooks readers: an impressionistic, unique point of view

How the prologue of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak delivers an impressionistic look at the plot ahead, without spoiling them or even setting them up. Also, how the prologue teaches us how to read the novel’s unique narrative voice without interfering with the main plot. Watch the video above and read the transcript on Medium.

How the prologue of “A Game of Thrones” hooks readers: Instant gratification and themes in action

How the prologue of A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin breaks from the Tolkien model of starting with heavy exposition and world-building, and instead delivers a simple action scene with sympathetic characters—a scene that foreshadows the great conflicts of the novel and series. Watch the video above and read the transcript on Medium.

How “Saga” hooks readers: Starting with action

How the comic series Saga starts with a bang, dropping us into the middle of a story already in progress, and how its exposition delivers drama instead of information. Also, how Saga’s structure follows in the footsteps of the pilot episode of Lost and the opening of the first Star Wars film. Watch the video above and read the transcript on Medium.

How “The Hunger Games” hooks readers: Bringing a premise to life

How author Suzanne Collins creates a compelling high-concept premise in the opening chapter of The Hunger Games, how she brings that premise to life through character, world-building, and language, and how that premise conquered the literary world. Watch the video above and read the transcript on Medium.

How “The Road” hooks readers: Rooting for the underdog

How author Cormac McCarthy creates vulnerable characters that engage our emotions in his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Road. Also, how the literary theories of Greek philosopher Aristotle still apply today, and what the modern anti-hero gets right and wrong. Watch the video above and read the transcript on Medium.

How “Cloud Atlas” hooks readers: Delivering the Unexpected

How author David Mitchell uses unexpected structure and unexpected language to hook readers in his novel Cloud Atlas. Plus, how the psychological concept of flow applies to great writing. Watch the video above and read the transcript (with extras) on Medium.

Learning from “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman: Building a world

Great writers build spaces for compelling stories and settings that capture our imagination. Here’s how author Neil Gaiman hooks readers using exploration and discovery of a setting in Chapter 1 of his novel Coraline. Watch the video above and read the transcript on Medium.

How Susanna Clarke starts “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell”: Big questions

How author Susanna Clarke asks the right questions to hook readers and drive the story in the opening chapter of her fantasy novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Also, how the philosophy of Romanticism comes alive in the story and setting, and what writers can learn from kids cartoons. Watch the video above and read the transcript on Medium.

How Yann Martel starts “Life of Pi”: The power of first-person storytelling

In Life of Pi, Yann Martel searches for the “spark that brings to life a real story.” Life of Pi itself uses first-person storytelling to light that spark. Let’s see how Yann Martel uses the power of first person in the opening chapters to hook the reader, and why the novel starts before the first page. Watch the video above and read the transcript on Medium.

How J. K. Rowling starts “The Philosopher’s Stone”: Voice vs Exposition

How J. K. Rowling’s first three chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone hooked her readers, agents, and editors, using voice, mystery, and nostalgia. Watch the video above and read the transcript on Medium.