THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WRITING GREAT HOOKS FOR ESSAYS
November 15, 2017>
What is a hook in writing?
Anyone who ever wrote any academic paper knows that writing a strong introduction is the key to success in further work. A hook in any writing is a snippet of information before the text itself that makes a reader either foretaste the further reading or feel doomed to boredom for the next minutes or even hours. A good hook immediately creates a bond between an author and the audience. But how to write a good hook sentence? Unfortunately, there is no single pattern and no magic formula to seize the reader’s attention. However, there are some tips on how to get better at it.
What is a hook in an essay?
Good hooks to start an essay are usually the first 3-7 sentences of the paper. A hook can be compared to an appetizer, which would make the reader hungry for more and devour the rest of the text with great pleasure. Since the main audience of the essays is college professors and highly educated people, writing interesting hooks for essays can be way harder than for many other types of texts. Moreover, college teachers are probably reading dozens of essays, if not hundreds, on a regular basis, and thus, in order to impress the readers, yours should be really extraordinary.
How to write a hook for an essay?
There are different types of hooks for essays, and it is important to distinguish, where each of them would be appropriate. Quotes, anecdotes, curious facts, striking statistics, rhetorical questions are among a great variety of helpful tools to use as hooks and prepare your audience to catch every next word. Yet, regardless of which method you will choose to start your writing, it is essential for your hook to be relevant to your overall topic.
How to start a hook in an essay?
Writing a striking introduction can be quite challenging and stressful, especially since the main work is still ahead. A good idea would be to spend some time to plan the essay carefully. Think of its type, structure, tone and style, and, of course, intended audience. Decide what is the purpose of your writing: is it meant to entertain, give details, report a research, propose a solution to a problem or tell a life story? Another substantial question that you need to ask yourself is how do you want to make your audience feel? Maybe your goal is to motivate your readers for immediate action, inspire an onward research, or just emphasize with the main characters? And one more important question to ask before you start writing is what would you want your audience to take away from what they will read: a better grasp of a certain subject, a fascination with new knowledge, or strong intentions to change something in their lives?
How to write a good hook for an essay?
In order to write effective hooks for essays, one should have some insights on human psychology and perception. As you probably know, first impressions are the ones to last the longest, at times you only have about five seconds before a person decides if he or she likes you or not. Such principle applies not only to interpersonal interactions, but to the written word as well. If you bore your readers with a long and monotonous foreword, you may lose their attention for the rest of the text, even if it is far more interesting than the introduction.
How to write a good hook for an essay: general approaches
People generally like hearing something they are likely to agree with. If the opening statement claims something that the audience can relate to, there are high chances that the readers will find the author smart, and will feel favorable towards the whole piece of writing. This fact can be used for writing strong hooks for essays: once you say something that most of the audience can agree on, you will have its attention. However, this hack should not be misused, so saying something way too obvious for an opening statement can cause an opposite effect.
Education is equally beneficial for individuals and society, thus knowledge should be accessible for everyone who is interested and willing to study.
Fastened seatbelts save millions of lives every year, thereby strict laws, associated with car safety are justified and necessary.
To be effective, the penitentiary system should focus more on rehabilitation, not punishment.
Another effective advice on how to write great hooks for essays is appealing to the audience’s need to argue. If you ever found yourself yelling at a TV, you know the feeling. Starting your essay with a controversial statement won’t make people immediately yell and argue with you, yet will certainly get them involved into listening closely to what you have to say next. Keep in mind that your hook should sound thought-provoking, but not offensive.
Modern technologies are becoming more and more sophisticated. Humanity will soon engineer an artificial intelligence so complex, that it would excel human intellect in every possible criterion.
Child obesity is an indicator of wealth and care, not poverty, and thus should not be frowned upon.
Drugs can have a positive effect on human’s health and creativity, therefore people should have free access to them. Purchasing and using drugs should be limited by user’s discretion.
One more way of writing amazing hooks for essays is playing with human need to solve puzzles and the itch of not knowing the answer. When the audience senses a mystery, two things happen: first, people become more alert, trying to find the answer to it, and second, they become extremely attentive towards the further text, hoping to hear the right reply. Bear in mind though, that although the puzzle you’re using should not make sense immediately, it also should not be too hard, and fit to the context of the essay. Mysteries can be used as a part of different hooks for essays. For example, you can try starting with a paradox, a statement that seems absurd or contradictory, but is actually true, or at least makes sense. It is also effective to start an essay with a metaphor, or unusual comparison for the given topic. And, of course, you can start with posing a riddle. As long as the audience is waiting for the correct answer, it will catch every word of your essay.
I am the black child of a white father, a wingless bird, flying even to the clouds of heaven. I give birth to tears of mourning in pupils that meet me, even though there is no cause for grief, and at once at my birth I am dissolved into the air. What am I? Smoke.
What word in English language consists of five letters, but is spelled as the first one? Queue.
Can you list five American presidents whose surnames contain only four letters?
When listing the ways to hook a reader in an essay, it is essential to mention one more psychological whim: people like the familiar. If you ever clicked through the channels of your TV trying to find something interesting to watch, and then stopped in favor of a well-known movie, you must know that a feeling of recognition can often be mistaken for gladness and satisfaction. This feature is often used in marketing technologies, but in terms of writing, it will work just as fine. All you have to do is describe a situation that a reader can relate to, and provide some details to make it more plausible.
Seems like everything was against me that day: soon after I left home, it started raining cats and dogs and with a blink of an eye I was wet to the bone. I was making my way through the puddles, as I saw my bus leave the stop. There was no way I could make it to school in time.
I was halfway done doing the chores when I found my old yearbook, and immediately I was overwhelmed with bittersweet feeling of nostalgia.
My headache was killing me; every new thought, every other blink of the eyes was like a hack of a hammer, so I closed my eyes, and let the sleep take over me. The dream that I saw then was somehow prophetic.
If you want to write creative hooks for essays, you should think of how much people love stories. For example, the best and the most successful TV commercials are the ones that have some vivid stories in them. Naturally, it is near to impossible to write a thrilling story in a few sentences, however, there are some methods that you can use: start with a bright description of a scene or situation, depict an action, or write a short dialogue.
- Mommy, do you know, what can destroy any face?
- What would that be, sweetie?
They were riding the same suburban train every day for almost a year now. Total strangers they were, but after all this time it felt like it’s about time to start a conversation.
There is nothing more fascinating than old books. They smell like wisdom, and they tell stories to those, who are eager to listen. Those stories go far beyond from what their authors had initially intended to say. Old books tell stories of people who wrote them, but also of people who had read them.
How to create a hook for an essay: tried and true methods
Catchy hooks for essays are similar to earworms: they stick and seize the reader’s attention; they are likely to be remembered long after the essay is read. There are different types of hooks, and it is necessary to use them appropriately.
- Pose a question. A question immediately drags a reader or a listener into a process of critical thinking, making them read or listen until the very end. Try to avoid simple questions that require a “yes” or “no” answer.
Have you ever had a feeling that you had already lived through a moment, or even a day, like this before?
What is the meaning of happiness?
What would you do, if you were sure you would get away with it?
You can also ask a rhetorical question, something that implies a positive answer, in order to make your audience agree with you.
- Use quotes of famous people. Starting your essay with famous words of influential figures, which are related to your topic, can be a great benefit for your writing. The audience is likely to agree with the words of an authoritative person, and thus, there are high chances that your readers or listeners will agree with your words as well.
“Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75” Benjamin Franklin
“The only thing worse than being blind, is having sight, but no vision” Hellen Keller
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it” William Arthur Ward
- Use literary quotes. This type of hook is most pertinent when the subject of your writing is literature. A literary quote can refresh an essay about a novel, poem, literary phenomenon, or artwork of a certain author.
“It is much better to do good in a way that no one knows about it”, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
“You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget”, The Road by Cormac McCarthy
“It is a great misfortune to be alone, my friends; and it must be believed that solitude can quickly destroy reason”, The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne
- Tell an anecdote. Funny hooks for essays are good to break the ice and make the audience more gracious. However, an appropriate joke in the beginning of an essay does not necessarily mean that the rest of the writing should be funny too.
My new business on eBay is a great success. Just sold my homing pigeons for the 17th time in a row!
Chocolate comes from cocoa, which comes from a tree, which is a plant. Therefore, chocolate is a type of salad.
If teachers really want you to follow your dreams, why do you get yelled at for falling asleep in class?
- Set the scene. A thorough description of a scene, main character or a situation will boost the audience’s creative skills and imagination, and consequently, they will remember more of your writing.
I glanced through the window, and I could not believe my eyes.
It was a sunny winter day, as the snow started falling with huge and puffy snowflakes. Suddenly, the doorbell rang.
We were sitting in the summer meadow, smiling, ambitious, young. If only we had known, that it was our last summer together.
- Start with a peculiar fact. If you surprisethe members of the audience with a juicy piece of information at the beginning of the writing, they will be eager to know more.
It is estimated that you say 300 to 1000 words to yourself per minute.
There is an Indian village named “Piplantri”, which celebrates the birth of every girl child by planting 111 trees.
Risk-taking is contagious. Studies show that you are more likely to take a risk on something if you see someone else do it first, even if you don’t know the outcome of their choice.
- Impress with statistic. People are fascinated with numbers and precise data, so you can easily win their attention if you find the statistics that is relevant to your topic.
57% of consumers say that they would be somewhat or very influenced to think more highly of a business after seeing positive comments or praise online, and 16% say the only share positive reviews on social media.
20% of Millennials would prefer not to interact with cashiers at all in retail environments.
85% of people rely on Twitter and Facebook for their morning news.
- Reveal a misconception. It is a strong tool to hook your audience into further reading or listening. Same as with interesting facts and statistics, this is a good strategy to follow to get your audience interested in further perception.
There is no such thing as an “Alpha” in a wolf pack. Wolf packs operate like human families: there is no sense of rank, parents are in charge, and none are overthrowing elders.
Immigrant names were not Americanized (voluntarily or mistakenly), upon arrival on Ellis Island. There was no law that required recording immigrant names at that time.
Despite the numerous studies, there is little evidence that cameras directly reduce crime rates. Instead, they are often used to detect and prosecute crime after the fact.
What is a hook sentence, and why should you use it
It is widely known that human ability to perceive information gradually declines with time. Thus, no matter how dazzling your introduction is, you will have to make effort toheat up the audience’s attention throughout the text. Some authors advise using hook sentences to start every paragraph of your writing. This may sound challenging an even absurd at first, but it is actually an effective strategy to keep your readers interested and focused on your topic. Moreover, it is a great gimmick to make sure that you don’t switch topics unintentionally, and your writing follows the main idea without any contradiction.
David Ogilvy, a worldwide-known expert in public relations, once composed a list of the most effective words for advertisement. But what does advertisement have to do with presenting your essay to the public? In fact, the process is quite similar, as you are promoting yourself as an author, and advertising your ideas as a product of your intellectual labor. However, hook words for essays are different from those used in public relations. These words and phrases are often called transitional, as they help authors and readers slide smoother from one point to another, making the piece of writing seem more cohesive and logical. These words help summarizing data, comparing and viewing similarities and contrasts, illustrating and exemplifying the main points.
How to write a good hook for an argumentative essay?
Argumentative essays require a thorough and consistent research of a given topic, strong support and a distinct position regarding the subject. This type of writing involves a prior investigation of different resources in order to shape an argument, and then it is important to choose a position to support. It is essential to substantiate your claims with facts without getting emotional. A strong argumentative essay should have a balanced assessment, persuasive language and logical structure.
The first paragraph of an argumentative essay should provide some insight into the chosen topic and the reasons why the audience should be concerned about it. Good hooks for an argumentative essay are the ones that actually make the readers care and eager to explore more of the suggested topic. Edgy rhetorical questions, quirky puzzles, powerful quotes of known specialists in the field of study are all among the effective argumentative essay hook examples. It is crucial to state a thesis in this section of writing, as without it, the essay won’t be clear and sound. The body paragraphs should evolve the topic, and at the same time support the thesis one way or another. However, some topics require explaining different points of view, and omitting points that are contrary to the thesis is an erroneous strategy. In order to write a well-rounded essay, one should mention and discuss multiple positions on a given topic. Good hook sentences for argumentative essays can also be used as transitions between different opinions, and make the writing more coherent.
For example, if the essay topic is “Should scientists use animals for research?”, the hook might look like this:
More than 100 million different animals are being used for laboratorial research, medical training, in-class demonstrations and various experiments in USA only each year. Some of these animals are forced to suffer from various injuries, consume and inhale potentially dangerous matters; all of them are held in unnatural conditions, deprived of social interactions, isolated and sometimes immobilized in tiny cages before being murdered. Some people may claim that it is an inevitable sacrifice for the sake of progress. But where is the line between animals being beloved pets and animals being experimental material?
A general approach to writing argumentative essays typically implies a five-paragraph structure. Nevertheless, some topics and assignments require a deeper research, and therefore, lead to much longer writing. The amount of necessary work can be intimidating at times, which is pushing some students to buy argumentative essays and skip all the fundamental analysis, data gathering and evaluating the arguments.
How to write a hook for an expository essay?
Expository and argumentative essays are quite similar and can often be confused with each other. The main differences are in the size of the essays and the amount of investigation and data collecting that foregoes the writing itself. Unlike argumentative essays, that are usually assigned as milestone or final course projects, expository essays are common tasks at numerous exams. The structure of an expository essay consists of an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion.
The aim of expository essays is to “expose” the author’s vision of a given topic and provide evidence to support it. Thus, the main thesis should be introduced at the very beginning of the writing. Hooks for expository writing are generally the same as for argumentative essays, yet if you are writing an expository essay in class, it can be difficult to recall a quote or a relevant fact, and thus you have to be creative. Rhetorical questions, anecdotes, catchy phrases are good hooks for expository essays.
Examples of hooks for expository essays:
Topic: “Single-sex education is gaining more popularity in western culture. Is it beneficial for students – either boys or girls – to learn in a single-sex environment?”
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the reasons of separate education for boys and girls is avoiding distraction when students reach a certain age and their hormones start to bluster. However, recent studies have shown that there are far more natural differences in learning and perception of males and females, than it was previously thought.
Each body paragraph should support and develop the main thesis, provide a thorough description of every new idea, consider multiple points of view. It can be quite challenging to create a balanced inquiry on a given topic, especially within a limited time, so it is handy to use expository hooks at the beginning of every paragraph and transitional words to switch from one idea to another without infringing upon the overall logic of the essay. It is important to check that the provided substantiation is not biased, the examples and the evidence are relevant, and the narrative is coherent. One of the difficulties of writing an expository essay hook can be related to a changing flow of the author’s thought. In other words, it can be hard to estimate the complexity of the further argumentation, and the hook that seemed appropriate at first, can lose its pertinence after the essay is ready. For this reason, some authors prefer writing hook sentences for essays after the essay itself.
How to write a hook for a persuasive essay?
The main purpose of writing a persuasive essay is to persuade the audience that the author’s point of view is the most valid and plausible, while acknowledging and introducing other opinions. This type of writing requires a deep immersion into the subject and a vast investigation of numerous resources. One of the key elements of a successful essay is a debatable thesis. An ambiguous thesis of a persuasive essay hooks the reader or the listener into an internal debate with the author, and assures an onward attention. It is thereby essential to distinguish a thesis from a fact, as debating about a fact will inevitably lead the narrative to a dead end.
A thorough and effective introduction consists of an attention-grabber, a thesis, and a preview. Good hooks for persuasive essays are designed to warm up the audience’s interest, to put a fresh idea into their minds and boost the critical thinking before introducing them to a controversial thesis. In this part of writing it is vital to avoid clichés and any obvious phrases or questions.
Persuasive essay hook examples can look like these:
Topic: “With the growing use of the internet, public libraries are no longer fulfilling the role of the main informational resource. Thus, government should cut funding public libraries, and focus on more critical spheres and issues”.
Cutting governmental financial aid can have drastic and tragic effects. Some spheres might experience an immediate impact, while others require new generations to reveal the consequences of the budget cuts. Public libraries have been a symbol of enlightenment, conscious and aspiring citizens for decades. Naturally, closing public libraries can be seen as a disturbing and intimidating signal, as a threat to literacy and critical, mindful society in general.
The body paragraphs, regardless of their number and size, should somehow relate to the main idea of the text. Good hook sentences for persuasive essays used as openings for each new paragraph will hammer home the point that the author is trying to state. This type of essays calls for explaining and commenting every piece of evidence, as there is a potential risk that it will be interpreted by the audience some other way. In order to convince the readers to become devotees of the writer’s point of view, one should be aware of the opposing viewpoints, and disprove them in a consistent manner, identify mistakes, inconsistencies and flaws in their logic. At the same time, the author’s logic should be supported by information and examples from various trustworthy resources. An effective way of revising a persuasive essay is reading through the paragraphs and determining whether each of them is tied to the thesis, and if this is not the case, the paragraph should be excluded from the text.
What is a good hook for an essay and where can you get one
Regardless of what type of essay you are writing and what type of hook you are willing to use, there are a few more guidelines to follow:
- Never write a hook that has no connection to the topic of your writing, and thereby, always check if the hook is still relevant after the whole piece of writing is done. Writing an inappropriate hook just for the sake of having one in the text will lead to an opposite effect: the cognitive dissonance between what is expected by the audience and what is actually presented to it can seriously undermine the authority of the writer.
- No matter how tempting it can be, do not skip the introduction. Even the most dazzling argumentation, the brightest and the most creative ideas, represented with sophisticated language and flawless logic, can be neglected by the readers or listeners, if they are not ready to comprehend the suggested information.
- Good hooks for college essays should be written in the same tone and style as the rest of the essay. Different styles of the hook and the essay itself can distract the audience’s attention from the main points that the author is trying to make.
- Writing a hook that is too wordy and complicated can be an erroneous decision as well. Don’t try to present all your writing skills in the first sentences, in an attempt to impress the audience. A start that is too pretentious can make the readers or listeners even more judgmental than they would have been, if the hook was written in a natural manner.
Sometimes it can be quite hard to come up with hook ideas for essays: it requires some practice and a lot of diligence. You can surrender to the temptation of delegating the whole work to an essay writing service, or research the given topic a little bit more in chase of inspiration. Try writing an outline for the whole essay and determine the weak spots that require further investigation and research. Such brainstorming may lead you to a new insight of a topic and grant a fresh vision of what your essay should look like. A better understanding of the topic will allow you to write distinctive, captivating hooks that will catch and keep the audience’s attention from the start to the end.
Category: Academic writing, Essay paper writing
And you have to find perfect hooks for an essay even when you don’t know what to write about.
When you are asked to write an essay, it doesn’t mean that you don’t get to express your own thoughts and creativity. An essay shouldn’t be boring or too formal. As a writer, your first priority is to make sure that you are keeping your audience in mind and writing for them and to them. That means grabbing and keeping their attention so that they want to read every word.
This is exactly why the essay hook exists and is such an important tool.
The use of hooks in writing goes far beyond just essays and college papers. Every writer, copywriter, screenwriter, and storyteller uses this device to draw in readers and keep them hooked. For example, world-famous ad executive, David Ogilvy, relied on a list of 29 “magic words” that he used in titles in order to hook a client’s attention.
College essay hooks can be difficult to generate, especially when you are still working on clarifying what your essay is going to say. So, the very first step in writing a strong essay hook is to do some planning.
This type of hook is appropriate when you are writing about a particular author, story, literary phenomenon, book, etc. Using a quote will make your essay sound fresh and establish your authority as an author.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” These words of Nick Carraway perfectly describe…”
“Not all those who wander are lost.” And yes, indeed, every person is so…”
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” Agree or not, but these words from The Alchemist determine…”
Including a quote from an authoritative and influential person can help support your argument and create an intriguing hook. The key is to make sure that you clearly show how the quote is relevant to your essay.
“John Wooden once said, ‘Never mistake activity for achievement.'”
“Learn to laugh” were the first words from my kindergarten teacher after Ralph Thorsen spilled paint on my daffodil picture.
Don’t be afraid to employ this type of hook. Remember, even if you start with a humorous anecdote, it doesn’t mean that your entire essay has to be funny. A bit of humor can help you grab readers’ attention and spark their interest in the topic.
“As my cousin and I pedaled our new bikes to the beach, 6 years old, suntanned and young, we met an old, shaggy-haired man weaving unsteadily on a battered old bike.”
“When I was a young boy, my father worked at a coal mine. For 27 years, he made it his occupation to scrape and claw and grunt his way into the bowels of the earth, searching for fuel. On April 19, 2004, the bowels of the earth clawed back.”
Keep in mind that most essay assignments will ask you to avoid using the first person. Be sure to check any requirements before using “I” in your writing.
Almost nothing can attract interest better than a well-constructed question. Readers will want to continue reading your essay in order to discover the answer. Be sure to avoid simple “Yes” or “No” questions and try to pose questions that ask reader to consider the other side or engage in some critical thinking.
“What would you do if you could play God for a day? That’s exactly what the leaders of the tiny island nation of Guam tried to answer.”
“Have you ever wondered, whether Anna Karenina still loved Alexei if she hadn’t decided to commit a suicide?”
People respond well to visual cues. Taking the time to set a detailed scene will help your reader have a clear picture in their minds and create an effective hook. You can describe an incident or detail the particular features of a person or a character to help the readers become immersed in your writing.
“The day of his birth began with Hurricane Charlie pounding at our door in Charleston, South Carolina.”
“Deciding to attend Hampton Roads Academy, a private school, was one of my most difficult decisions.”
These types of hooks start by surprising the reader with something that may not have known. Provide an interesting fact about something you are going to discuss in your essay’s body and your audience will want to keep reading to learn more.
“Spain, though hardly a literary juggernaut, translates more books in one year than the entire Arab world has in the past one thousand years.”
“Amiable is the best way to describe Elizabeth’s personality: she was friendly and caring.”
There is no harm in getting right to the point. Start with your main argument and use the rest of your essay to support your point of view. If you have an interesting take on a subject, readers will want to see where you came up with your idea.
“It is time, at last, to speak the truth about Thanksgiving, and the truth is this. Thanksgiving is really not such a terrific holiday. . .”
“Humans need to invest more time and money into space exploration because Earth is on a certain path to destruction.”
The most interesting essays will teach the readers something new. If you start your introduction by showing that a commonly accepted truth is actually false, your readers will be instantly hooked.
“Any parent will tell you that goldfish are a great first pet for a child. They hardly need any attention, and they won’t be around for too long. Flushing a goldfish in its first week is pretty common—it even happened to my first goldfish. But it turns out that goldfish aren’t as helpless as we all think.”
“While most coffee enthusiasts would tell you that their favorite drink comes from a bean, they would be wrong. Coffee is actually made from a seed that is simply called a bean.”
By listing proven facts at the very beginning of your paper, you will create interest that can be carried throughout the rest of the essay.
“The average iceberg weighs over 100,000 metric tons.”
“70% of all jobs found today were got through different networking strategies”
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Depending on the style of essay you are writing (narrative, persuasive, personal, critical, argumentative, deductive, etc.), the type of hook you will want to use will vary. Remember, your essay hook is just a tip of an iceberg and it will not guarantee that the rest of your essay will work. Be sure to organize your research and start with an outline before deciding on the best hook to start your essay. The right choice can make your paper truly interesting and worth reading.
Written by Lesley J. Vos, our blog writer and essay proofreader. Lesley is a big fan of reading, and she is always ready to help students come up with good ideas for their papers and reach their academic goals. You can always find her on Facebook and Google+.