Some might say that the hook is the most important part of the story. It's definitely at the top of the list. There are three things that I always like to make sure of when I'm thinking up a beginning. Usually if I stick to these, my hook is good.
It should be unique.
There are thousands of stories, thousands of books. So many plots, characters, settings. This is one of the few things that we as writers can make completely different. Use a sentence you've never seen before at the start of that first chapter.
It should jump out at the reader.
Obviously, it needs to be gripping. A hook that – excuse the gory image – digs into the reader and permanently scars. Something that's startling, something that will keep that person thinking. Drag them into your world suddenly. Create intrigue. You have that, and of course that person is going to keep reading.
It should set the tone.
One of my favorite quotes is that there are no original ideas, just original voices. When we write, I think that a little part of ourselves goes into the words, no matter who the character is. And each human being is special. We all speak our own ways, have our own gestures, our own vocabularies and thoughts. Those are transferred to the page. So whoever the character is that you're creating – headstrong, timid, sad, angry – leak it into those sentences.
A hook is hard, like all the rest of it. But I think that no matter what stage a writer is at – just beginning, years of experience, published – we can all make a fabulous beginning just by trying. Happy writing, everyone.