When writing anything you need to start with a big promise to the reader. This is a hook, but not The Hook. I am not a fan of the idea that a piece of writing has to have a hook in it, but it does have to start strong and the way you do that is to make a big promise to the reader.
Joyce Carol Oats does this well in her book "The Sacrifice." It begins:
"Seen my girl? My baby?
"She came like a procession of voices though she was but a singular voice. She came along Camden Avenue in the Red Rock neighborhood of inner-city Pascayne, twelve tight-compressed blocks between the New Jersey Turnpike and the Passaic River. In the sinister shadow of the high-looming Pitcairn Memorial Bridge she came. Like an Old Testament mother she came seeking her lost child."
As a reader, she has caught your eye and sense of curiosity and made the promise that she is going to take you places in her story you've never seen where you meet characters you've never dreamed of.
John Steinbeck does the same thing at the opening of "Canary Row." It is the finest opening to any piece of writing I have ever read and well worth the time of looking it up.
By contrast, the books that I bet you put down (because I put them down) are ones that start slow or seem to never materialize. There is no promise made at the outset so it seems as if the writer never feels he or she has anything to live up to. The narrative just sort of floats along and the writing seems intent on showing off rather than telling a story.
This big promise is one of the key things I help all of my clients with. Whether you're writing a corporate white paper or short story, you need to make a promise to the reader that it's worth turning the page to find out what happens.