This statement conjures a host of responses from incredulity, curiosity, and exasperation, to concerns about the sanity of the speaker. But it’s also an example of a narrative hook I once used to get my audience interested in what comes next.
Picture if you will, an extended family dinner with 10 or 12 people at the grownup table and at least that many at the kids’ table. There was the usual level of noise and commotion associated with a large family dinner but there was also an air of curiosity--my nephew had brought his new girlfriend home to meet the family. She was an undergraduate science major and she had been told that I was a research and development scientist. So, as you might expect, she asked me what I did at the R&D center. I really didn’t want to put on my scientist’s hat at the dinner table so I responded that I did a lot of different things.
Undeterred, she said, “Tell us about one of them.”
And yes, I told everyone that I could hypnotize a rabbit.
My second point is that you have to know your audience. I could have talked about gene expression, viral antigen production, protein purification and a host of other things, but my non-science audience would have been bored to tears. Instead, I said something interesting--something unexpected--and after the hooting subsided, I was able tell my story about how I learned this unusual skill and why it was necessary.
Short story writing is much like telling a tale at dinner. You have to quickly engage the audience, keep the narrative brief and lively, and have a satisfying ending. The ending is as important as the hook because storytelling is catch and release fishing. You need to release them in good condition so you can hook 'em again later.