Got Some Good HIP Action?

So what did you really think I was going to write about? LOL … A dancer, I am not. I like to dance to make my kids laugh, but that’s about it. I keep telling my husband someday we are going to take dance lessons, but nah…we never will. We’d laugh too much.
I’m still reading James Scott Bell’s book, Revision & Self-Editing and he talks about HIPs. Here is how he breaks it down:
HOOK: This is making your writing hard to put down. It is not just used at the beginning of your book, but all throughout it. You want to give your reader a reason to keep turning the page, so every scene needs to draw the reader into it. This can be done through the opening line, through dialogue, and setting. You want to start your scene at, or close to, the action of the scene. You also want to establish the viewpoint right up front.
INTENSITY: “The greater the trouble, the greater the intensity.” You don’t want any dull parts, whatsoever. You need to keep tension in every scene. It doesn’t have to be high end tension, but enough to keep the reader in anticipation.
PROMPT: To me this is like a hook, but only at the end of your scene and/or chapter. This is where you prompt the reader to keep on reading. Here’s a few of Bell’s ideas: a mysterious line of dialogue, an image of foreboding,a secret suddenly revealed, and a question left hanging in the air.
So have you been putting your HIPs in action? A little rusty from disuse? Or do you have some great moves?

26 responses to “Got Some Good HIP Action?”

  1. To an extent. I hope I have the H and P down well in each chapter, but as for the I? Nothing bugs me more than reading books where it's just over the top, unbelievable. I think that happens when the author goes overboard on the I and it just comes across as so stupidly overboard that I roll my eyes.

    Plus, I think that I needs some variance for a little ebb and flow to happen for the reader too.


  2. I've never heard of these but it sounds good to me!


  3. I loved reading this book! I wish I had before I wrote my first novel. With my second I am making every word count, every action intense, and every scene something worth reading!

    (That's probably why I'm having such a rough time with it! LOL)


  4. I totally agree with Marybeth. Writing when you have more knowledge is so much harder.

    Great post, Sherrinda! HIPs re something I hope to work on in more with my revision.


  5. Eileen, I think I may have gone overboard with the intensity in my WIP! My hero gets wounded by a sword or knife 3 times! Mere scratches in his estimation. šŸ™‚

    Jessica, yes, you have heard of them, but most likely not described the same way. šŸ™‚ I'm thinking there is nothing new under the sun!

    Marybeth, I wish I had read it before I started writing!!! But like you, I think all the new things we learn hinder us in first telling the story. Gotta write with your heart, then rewrite with your head.

    Oh Heather, I totally agree! I read some craft books while writing my WIP and totally blocked myself up in fear. Craziness!


  6. I'm hoping my hips are swinging! I love the concept! Actually just the other night my entire family was dancing to the song, Dance Me Daddy. We had such a blast!


  7. I'm hoping I've got the intensity part down. I keep remembering the advice I read about making sure every scene progressed the plot. It's creating a little writer's block, though, as I question myself!


  8. I am in agreement with Eileen on “I”. There are stories I've read where I know the author must have been in stitches while she wrote it, and yeah I can even see what she must have saw in her head…but it just isn't funny to me. It reads like one of those clown acts in a circus show with a couple of guys chasing each other with oversized foam bats and beating each other.

    I'll have to check this book out, sounds pretty okay.


  9. I love that book. It's one of my favorites! HIP is a great thing to keep in mind. Thanks for the refresher, Sherrinda!


  10. That's a fun way to put it! I'm definitely learning to put each of these into use. Or…at least it's easier to recognize when I'm not šŸ™‚ The big thing I'm working on now is the intensity and making sure each scene counts (either toward moving the action or developing the characters).


  11. Sometimes, it becomes so very difficult to keep these three things in mind, but I've come to understand how absolutely crucial they are to helping make progress on your chapters.

    Thank you for sharing this, Sherrinda , and I've made a note to pick up the book. šŸ™‚


  12. Hook, Intensity, Prompt, got it! šŸ˜€

    Like the dancing comments in the beginning. I hope to take dancing class w/ my man someday, too.
    ~ Wendy


  13. i'm a firm believer in large hips, both personally and professionally. šŸ™‚


  14. Fun post today, Sherrinda…and I'm off to check my HIPs! šŸ˜€


  15. Thanks for the refresher! I'm still revising, and it's exhausting trying to apply everything. Love the picture!


  16. JSB knows his stuff. I had the privilege of attending a workshop he presented at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference this year and learned a great deal. This book sounds like a must read.


  17. Love that analogy! šŸ™‚


  18. Jody, oh yes, I would say your HIPs are swinging nicely. šŸ™‚ Love that you dance with your kids.

    Stephanie, just write through the block and try to forget all the rules in the first draft. Easy to say, I know, but that is what everyone always tells me!

    Uninvoked, the book is GREAT. He has another book, Plot and Structure, that I am going to read before I start my next book. I've heard nothing but good things about it.

    Katie, yes, I agree, JSB is great at instructing! Glad to have found him.

    Cindy, good luck with the intensity. I think it is hard to keep the intensity level up. I need a breather now and then!

    Wendy, I think you should definitely take dance lessons with your hubby! How fun would that be?!

    Jeannie, I got the big hips thing down…at least in the physical realm. sigh…always been a struggle for me!

    Erica, get those HIPs swinging, girl!

    Jill, YES!!! It is so exhausting! There is jsut so much to look out for when revising AND writing.

    Keli, I would have loved to learn from JSB in person! How does that conference compare with ACFW conference?

    Beth, when I read about HIPs in JSB's book, I immediately thought it would make for a fun blog. (and I had fun finding a picture!)


  19. Sherrinda, I haven't been to any ACFW conferences yet, but I'm sure they're great. Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, held at the gorgeous grounds nestled among the coastal redwoods south of San Francisco, is smaller, about 400 attendees/staff. There were some big name Christian writers there generously sharing information with those of us eager to see our books on the shelf beside theirs one day. We had a nice representation of agents and editors as well, who are very accessible to the attendees.

    If you're interested in knowing more about my experience at this year's Mount Hermon conference, I wrote an article on my personal blog:


  20. I have trouble with the intensity part. Some of my chapters just don't do that all the way through.


  21. Thanks for the tip on a groovy hip!
    Can you tell i'm tired?
    Excellent post, Sherrinda.
    Stop by my blog tomorrow; i mention you!


  22. Hi Sherrinda –

    LOL! We writers have more acronyms than anyone. MRU, RUE, and now HIP to name a few.

    I guess the I is to keep the middle from sagging.

    Susan šŸ™‚


  23. HIP! Love that! I never thought about the fact that hooks are all the way through a book. But of course they should be. I will be checking for that as I am revising. Thanks, great post.


  24. Love the title of this post. I really need to work on making sure my hook stays throughout. I've been working on keeping the tension up at the end of chapters too, instead of tying everything up in a nice little bow before the next one starts.


  25. I just finished reading What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles. Besides being a job hunter's guide it also focuses on the fact that since we are only here on this earth once you need to find your passion before it is too late. One of mine was writing, which I used to love to do when I was 12-13 years old. Before that I used to get into a lot of trouble so I turned to writing. Let's just say that was a LOOONG time ago.

    I'm hoping now, over 40 years later, that I can at least have some fun with it again. I am definitely HIP to what you are saying.


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