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A pineapple is walking down a street, but here’s the kicker: he’s completely naked.

That was a non sequitur hook I thought of. I figured that it would raise a bunch of really interesting questions, encouraging people to read on. However, I can't think of how to connect it to my novel. Any suggestions on how to connect this (in my mind) great hook to a story? I realize this may be closed because it's too specific, but I'm drawing a blank. What I'm really asking is: when you guys think of a funny/interesting non sequitur, how do you connect it to story? Thanks.

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perhaps I've fallen in love with my writing, and I should just let it go? –  m4tt Dec 31 '11 at 6:22
    
Yes. "Kill your darlings." –  Lauren Ipsum Dec 31 '11 at 13:51

3 Answers 3

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The narrator is clearly present in the sentence. The most important thing here is not the pineapple, but the narrator's desire not only to tell us about the pineapple, but to begin the story by telling us about the pineapple.

If there's a tie-in between that opening line and the rest of your novel, it's in your answers to questions like these:

  • What does the narrator's desire to utter the sentence tell us about the narrator?
  • What does the narrator's desire to start with that sentence tell us about the narrator?
  • What makes those aspects of the narrator so important to you as the author that you want to start your novel with that line?

If your answers to those questions don't give you a meaningful connection, then this line doesn't belong in your novel.

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thanks, I didn't realize that the narrator was having a voice. you made me realize that I was making this first person...it doesn't belong because I'm writing the novel in third person: good catch –  m4tt Dec 31 '11 at 8:08
    
can you give advice or a link to advice on writing hooks? a lot of the things I have found are too vague to be of any use –  m4tt Dec 31 '11 at 8:10
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Having a clear narrator doesn't automatically mean that your book is in first person. Omniscient Third has a clear narrator, and that could work with a hook like you're describing. –  Kate Sherwood Dec 31 '11 at 13:24
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Re. hooks - write them last. Hooks aren't strictly necessary, but if you want one, it should be more than a pithy throw-away line, it should be deeply connected to the themes or events of your story. And you may not be totally clear on what the themes or events ARE until you're done writing. –  Kate Sherwood Dec 31 '11 at 13:32

You can't really insert a hook afterwards. It will feel inserted. The hook needs to be there organically. You've presented a bizarre but intriguing image. In order to use it, you have to build a reason for it.

  • Is it a literal pineapple, like you can buy at the store, which has through some magical or technological means become animated?
  • Is it a person dressed as a pineapple, with bare legs visible?
  • Is it a person dressed as a pineapple mascot (think Mr. Peanut), and the character is supposed to have clothes of some kind which have been lost?
  • Is it an advertising exec pitching a quirky commercial to a client who sells pineapples?
  • Is it a dream?
  • Is it a videogame?

If there is no logical or natural reason for the naked pineapple to stroll into the book, send him strolling out again.

As Kate advises, keep a notebook. Write down your fabulous hooks. You can reread them later at your leisure and make yourself happy with your own writing all over again. But don't clutter up your novel with them if they don't belong there.

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Start a notebook. Jot down ideas like that, let them ruminate and meet up with your other ideas and have idea babies, and then when you're stuck for inspiration, read through the notebook.

Or, yeah, if you have a story that goes with your line, you could use the line as an opening. But that means that you're more or less stuck with that ironic, detached voice for the rest of the piece, and I think that would be really hard to pull off. I'd love to read it if it were done well, but it would take a strong stylist to pull it off, and I get the feeling that you're pretty new to the game.

You could also try to have one of the characters use the line as dialogue. A joke told at the start of the story that becomes more and more meaningful as the events of the tale unfold. If you felt the need, you could have it bookended with a repetition of the joke at the end - perhaps through the bloody teeth of a character dying because he, too, was a naked pineapple. Or whatever. Again, pretty challenging, but brilliant if it worked. I'm thinking Tarrantino-esque.

Good luck with it, and have fun!

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Kate, not Tarrantino, but Joss Whedon: lbgale.com/2011/11/01/… –  Lauren Ipsum Dec 31 '11 at 13:50

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