For instance, a car moving down the street is action, but there’s no inherent danger attached to the movement, so it does nothing to hook the reader. But with a few adjustments, we can make that moving car into something dangerous indeed.
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It is important to understand that a hook is not an alternative to an introduction. It does not replace it, but rather enhances it. Actually, it is simply an optional way to start the introductory part of your essay. An introduction with a hook would have the following structure:
Short Description of a Topic:Yes, the possibilities granted by such natural energy sources are impressive. So why don’t we still use them to their full potential, and when will it begin to happen?
If, by this moment, you have a strong feeling that writing a good hook is quite simple, don’t jump to conclusions. The price of making a mistake is too high. A bad hook will have the opposite effect on readers – they won’t read any further than a few sentences.
Which one would you choose? – Right, the second one. This example shows us an example of a “bad” and a “good” hook. A good hook will match the essay type, will be appropriate to the writer’s style, and will lead readers to the main topic gently. While a bad hook will result in readers having lower expectations for the essay that the essay itself might not necessarily match.
How to Write a Good Hook for Your Essay
- Keep your essay type in mind. This is the most basic thing you will need to know, in order to find an appropriate hook. An effective hook is not only about its message, but it is possibly even more about its relevance. An effective and appropriate hook for a romantic novel review and an argumentative essay will differ a lot. We will review some examples below.
- Decide on the purpose of your hook. What effect do you want to obtain from it? Do you want your readers to be intrigued? Or, better yet, surprised? Or even a little bit shocked? Choose a hook according to the effect you want to achieve.
- Choose a hook at the end of the writing process. Despite the fact that it should be the first sentence of your paper, it doesn’t mean you should write your hook first. Writing an essay is a long and creative process. So, if you couldn’t think of an effective hook at the beginning, just keep writing according to your plan, and it will eventually come into your head. If you were lucky enough to concoct your hook right away, double check your writing to see if it still fits into the whole text and its style (once you’ve finished writing).
- Make it really short. The shorter the better – this is a rule that works for essay hooks. Keeping your hook to a minimum size will ensure that readers will read it at the same moment they start looking at your essay. Even before thinking if they want or don’t want to read it, their attention will be captured and their curiosity will get the best of them. So, they will continue reading the entire text to find out as much as they can.
Obviously, a book review is the best occasion in which you can use a literary quote as a hook. Though its use is not limited only to that and depends mostly of the quotes meaning and style. Despite that, it can be one of the easiest types to find and use. We suggest being really careful with them. Remember, literary quotes will not be appropriate for expository or persuasive essays.
Example: You may use the following lines to start your compare-and-contrast essay on William Shakespeare’s works from different periods: “A little more than kin and less than kind” (Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2)
Quotes from Famous People
This is another commonly used type of hook—and maybe even overused a little bit. If you want to use this one, but don’t want to be dull, pick a modern figure with great achievements, so that your readers will be interested and motivated to continue reading on.
Show the readers that something they believe in isn’t true. Then, connect it with the thesis of your work. The idea of this method is to intensify disagreement within your topic, and even create a sort of disturbance that will force the readers to read further.
Anecdotes and Jokes
These can be a good option if the topic is not too serious. Though, using a joke at the beginning of your paper doesn’t necessarily mean that your essay should also be humorous. Moreover, remember to be brief. The joke should be short and well-aimed to achieve the best results.
Use this type of hook only if you are able to put your story into 2-3 sentences. In any other cases, look for another hook. Additionally, don’t tell too much of a personal story, and evaluate if it will be appropriate to the style. Narrative essays are a good occasion to tell an interesting story to your readers.
This type of hook is really effective and can be used when other types of hooks are not appropriate. Use statistics for serious topics and persuasive essays. Providing figures is practically as effective as seeing something with your own eyes. Showing exact figures, instead of using the words “many” or “a lot”, usually impresses people.
The secret to this trick relates to the principles of how the human brain works. Your brain starts to process a question once you have heard it, even if nobody asks you to answer it—and even if it is a rhetorical question. Your readers will start to think about your question, despite the fact that they have their own answers, or they will become curious about your point of view. Another more important point – such questions should be unusual, and maybe even unexpected. You can even ask something usual from a different point of view. Don’t ask ordinary or dull questions.
This question will likely make your readers interested, make them stop reading, and start to think about it. Right after that, they will be glad to listen to your thoughts about the plastic pollution problem. Use this hook for an argumentative, or cause-and-effect essay.
Fact or Definition
You may open your essay with an interesting fact, or by providing a definition connected to your topic. The same rule applies here, as for most of the types above: it should be interesting, unexpected, and/or shocking.
Remember Reader Expectation
In this article, I’ll spend time focusing on the more subtle varieties of danger hooks. As always, it’s vital to consider genre and reader expectations when crafting your danger hook. Different types of readers will perceive the hook in different ways. You want to be sure you’re baiting your hook to capture your target audience.
Ask yourself—will my core readers feel danger when they read this sentence? When a reader picks up a suspense or thriller, for instance, they expect to encounter danger. Readers make assumptions based on their expectations, so if I ended a scene like this:
Seasoned readers of suspense fiction will attach sinister meaning to the phrase. They will find it dangerous, while readers who don’t normally read taut mysteries and thrillers won’t necessarily process it the same way.
Keep secondary details minimal
Don’t describe characters putting off their alarms and eating breakfast, unless these in themselves are humorous or interesting situations that reveal, in their course, surprising or intriguing character details.
While I was still in Amsterdam, I dreamed about my mother for the first time in years. I’d been shut up in my hotel for more than a week, afraid to telephone anybody or go out; and my heart scrambled and floundered at even the most innocent noises…
The detail about the mother is important as the character’s mother plays a crucial role in the early unfolding chapters of the novel. We also ask ‘Why?’ Why is the character so unsettled by ‘even the most innocent noises’?
Through this opening we see a character’s curious, mysterious emotional state. Tartt gives us just enough of a sense of their environment (they’re travelling in Europe) and starts to fill in a primary relationship.
Line: Connect Your Introduction to the Rest of the Article
Modern fishing lines are exceptionally tough, able to endure strains into the thousands of pounds, all while resisting abrasion from teeth and corrosion from the elements. They keep every component of the fishing experience connected to every other, from the rod and hook to the angler and the fish. In a similar vein, great introductions establish a connective thread that runs throughout the entire article.
Many good writers think of hooks as standalone tools. They expend a huge amount of mental energy to share interesting, unexpected ideas in their first few paragraphs . and then forget all about the metaphors, anecdotes, and data points they’ve introduced. The introduction is catchy, but it has little bearing on the rest of the article. It may even feel disjointed or superficial.
Great introductions carry the unexpected throughout the rest of the article. It’s revisited in order to add greater clarity to each of your points. It builds a single unifying framework that structures the entire piece. To make the point, here’s our example article from before:
Here’s another example from estate planning platform Vanilla. On its own, a hook about ghost stories risks feeling cheap and sensationalist, bearing little connection to the meat of the article — real estate planning. But by revisiting the hook throughout the article, working it into headers and body copy, the metaphor creates a helpful and satisfying narrative thread.
This thread separates good introductions from great ones. It isn’t always easy (like writing an article about introductions using dozens of fishing metaphors), but the result is more memorable, more cohesive, and more useful to the reader when done well.