I discovered a first sentence/hook contest at Mysteries and Margaritas. The fun thing about this contest is that it's progressive - The first 50 entries get to have their first sentences posted for review. 20 will get culled, and the remaining 30 get to submit their last sentence of their first chapter and this will also be posted. After another 20 get cut, the remaining ten will get to submit a three-line blurb about their book and that gets posted too for everyone to comment on.
I'm not sure if I'm going to enter but I'll definitely be checking out the submissions and the comments and I expect to learn a lot.
I've been re-reading The First Five Pages, by Noah Lukeman, and I found this interesting perspective on hooks:
Most writers think hooks need to be intense, eye catching. This is a misconception and often what results is overcompensation. On the contrary, the job of the hook is to set the tone for the book; if your opening line is intense, you set yourself up for a hard act to follow. What's impressive to the professional reader is not initial intensity but maintained intensity.... It shows a manuscript well thought out, instead of unfolding off the top of a writer's head. Ironically, I often find that manuscripts with more subtle openings end up being the best; the opening line may less shocking, but I am also not set up then disappointed by what follows. These writers don't write an opening for the sake of an opening, but for the sake of the story that follows. There is a world of difference between the two.
The author points out that the last line of the first chapter can also be a hook, which lines up with the intention of the contest mentioned above.
With all the emphasis on hook these days, I found this author's perspective very interesting. First lines/last lines are a lot of fun to read and comment on and they make for easy, fun contests. But does it place too much emphasis on stand-alone sentences?
What do you think with all the buzz about first/last sentences? Genuine hooks or gimmicks?