Free HOOK Edit: Thel nocked an arrow—

Thel nocked an arrow and inhaled until her lungs were full and drew back the bowstring until her left hand rested lightly against her cheekbone. She exhaled slowly and sighted with her left eye then swiveled her right arm so that she could see the flat expanse between the buck’s unblinking black eyes. She curled her left index finger and touched the trigger release.
—Chris Hale

Developmental Edit

I’m all over that word “nocked.” Action, expertise, great sound all packed into one—and it’s almost the first word! hook

Tense? check
Vivid? check
Raises a question? check Will she get him?
Drop-kicks us off the end? check —touched the trigger release— You betcha!

What does this paragraph tell us about the book we’re starting? A female character named Thel is out hunting a buck. She’s calm, and she seems to know exactly what she’s doing. She has a whole series of steps she goes through to make sure she makes her shot, and she breathes deeply and deliberately as part of her prep.

Do I want to follow this character through a whole novel? So far, I like her. She looks smart and hard to fluster. I like that in a protagonist! It means they can handle a lot of trouble.

Genre? Right away I’m thinking fantasy, adventure, possibly historical.

Do we need to know who the character is, how they got here, where they were before? We know she’s hunting—that’s enough for a hook.

Do we need to know what she’s going to do after she takes her shot? Heck, no!

Does this paragraph drop us right smack in a specific moment in this character’s story? Yep.

So let’s talk about the structure of it. This is a very tense moment, and we’re all waiting for her to take her shot. What’s the best way to light a fire under a reader? Keep the action short and snappy. Can this paragraph be made any shorter and snappier, while keeping the essential information and avoiding repetition? Remember, every word counts.

Copy & Line Edit

Thel nocked an arrow, inhaled deeply, and drew the bowstring until her left hand rested against her cheekbone. She swiveled toward the flat expanse between the buck’s unblinking black eyes. Then she curled her left index finger, exhaling slowly, and touched the trigger release.