HOW TO WRITE A HOOK THAT WILL IMMEDIATELY GRAB YOUR READER’S ATTENTION
When you think about how to write a hook, you probably think about all of the things people have told you to use over the years, like dictionary definitions and catchy quotations. But the truth is that a lot of these things don’t actually work as an opening line.
You have to remember that your professor has likely read thousands of essays throughout their time in academia. They’ve seen those dictionary definitions and quotes a hundred times over. Just because they have to read your paper doesn’t mean you can get away with this, either: the more you lose your professor’s interest, the more your grades are going to suffer.
So, that being said, what does it take to write a hook that actually does the job and draws your reader in? Not everyone is able to channel strong, creative ideas into their essay writing, and that’s why we’re here to help give you some foolproof places to start.
In this article, we’re going to break down all of the different types of content you could use to write a great hook. By the end of this article, you’re going to know how to write a hook that is original, unique, catchy, and most importantly, a perfect transition into your introduction. Next time you’re tempted to start your essay with the line “throughout history,” stop what you’re doing and read this first.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A HOOK
The first step in learning how to write a hook is understanding why a hook is so important in the first place. Every introduction is made up of three components: your hook, your context, and your thesis statement. All of these components work together to make sure your reader has a clear idea of what they’re getting into when they read your paper.
Your opening line is a key component of not only a great introduction, but your entire paper because it’s the first line your reader sees, and it has to capture their interest to encourage them to continue reading. It’s called a hook for a reason – to resemble the hook that successfully baits and catches a fish.
How many times have you seen someone on television or in real life open a wedding toast with something along the lines of, “the dictionary definition of love is…” or with the Bible verse, “love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast”? Now think about how everyone in the room usually reacts when they hear those opening lines – you’re probably going to see some yawning, some eye rolling, and maybe even some watch checking. You’ll get this same reaction from your readers if you don’t nail down the hook of your essay.
The entire point of a hook in an academic essay is to grab your audience’s attention, peak their curiosity, and make them want to continue reading. You simply can’t do that if you use a line they’ve already heard before. Essentially, your essay hook is your first impression on your reader. You have one chance to interest and impress them, and if you don’t get it right the first time, they won’t care about anything you have to say.
WHAT TO AVOID IN YOUR OPENING LINE
Before we dive into the details of how to write a hook, let’s go over what you should not do. Here are some of the techniques people commonly use that can immediately ruin a good hook:
● Dictionary definitions
● Boring facts and statistics
● Overused cliches
● Motivational quotes
● Generic phrases such as “since the beginning of time…” or “throughout history…”
Now, it’s important to remember that there are exceptions to every rule. That’s why we’re going to go over some of these things in more detail to show you how you can use them in a way that engages your audience effectively. However, there are a few items in the list above that there are never exceptions for: dictionary definitions, generic phrases, cliches, and motivational quotations.
Cliches in particular are overused, vague, and unoriginal. You are not the first person to use one, and you won’t be the last, either. Further, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill argues that the use of cliches can actually reduce the credibility of your essay because they aren’t specific, don’t offer any fully developed ideas, and therefore act as “placeholders” for a more intelligent, academic discussion.
Using a cliche, a quote, or a dictionary definition is the easiest way to let your teacher know that you put no thought into your introduction (or your essay entirely). Anyone can go and copy a definition or generic saying from Google, but the real way to showcase your essay writing skills is to come up with a creative, engaging line your professor or audience won’t have read before.
It’s also important to note that you should never use these lines in your conclusion, either. For more tips on how to make your conclusion work properly, check out our blog on how to write a conclusion.
HOW TO WRITE A HOOK THAT DOESN’T PUT YOUR AUDIENCE TO SLEEP
We’re going to break down all of the different types of content you could use to write a great hook. Some of these are actually included in the above list of things not to do, but we’re going to show you how you can actually make them work if you do want to use them.
The key to any good hook is making sure that your sentence fits in with the point you’re trying to make within your essay, as well as the tone you’re trying to set within your paper. You want to avoid giving away the entire premise of your paper right in the first sentence and leave a little bit up to the reader’s imagination, but you also need to make sure your hook is relevant enough to convey your topic. This can be a tricky thing to navigate.
You can easily learn how to write a hook with some of these time-tested, reliable techniques. However, before you skim through and pick a few to try, make sure you read through each one to be sure you’re using it effectively.