9 Tips To Write an Interesting Hook
Updated July 31, 2023
A good hook can capture a reader's attention from the start. Unfortunately, learning how to craft a powerful hook is easier said than done—it takes time and practice to develop the skills for writing compelling essay openers. In this article, we explore what a hook is and offer nine tips and examples for how to write an effective one.
What is a hook?
A hook is an interesting sentence or paragraph that you can use at the beginning of a piece of writing to capture the reader's interest. It sets the tone and convinces the reader to continue reading. A strong hook is important because it can help you demonstrate your writing skills to the audience. This can be especially important if you're submitting a piece of writing for a grade, award or admission into a program.
Here are the elements of a good hook:
Engaging: A successful hook engages readers, making them want to keep reading your piece.
Informative: Another element of a good hook is its ability to inform readers about a topic.
Suitable: A good hook is appropriate for the intended audience. This means using language that suits the reading level and situation for the piece of writing.
How to write a hook
Here are steps you can take to plan and organize your piece of writing and set up an interesting hook:
1. Create an outline
The first step is to make an outline of your essay, lecture or article. An outline is a plan for writing that can guide you in the following ways:
Promote focus: An outline can help you fix the focus of your piece and ensure it remains clear throughout.
Decide on main points: Another advantage to writing an outline is that it can help you choose the main topics you want to address and help organize each section of your piece.
Determine the purpose: Your outline can also help you determine and promote the purpose of your piece of writing, such as persuading the reader or analyzing a topic.
Choose an audience: An outline can also give you an opportunity to define the audience—or the ideal reader—for your piece. This can help you establish a tone that matches the audience you have in mind.
2. Develop a thesis
After you've organized your outline, you can use it to develop a thesis. A thesis, also called a topic sentence, expresses the prevailing point of your piece. Here are a few guidelines for writing an effective thesis:
Ensure the thesis focuses on the topic. A good thesis helps emphasize the particular topic under consideration. Writing your thesis before the body of your piece can help you ensure your writing follows a specific idea.
Provide a specific thesis. The goal of the thesis is to describe why you're writing the article or essay. A good thesis is specific yet descriptive enough that the reader can understand the purpose of your piece from the thesis alone.
Address each section in the thesis sentence. You can use your outline to write a thesis that describes the point of each section of your piece. For example, a thesis for a five-paragraph essay can address the main point that each paragraph makes to the reader.
3. Write your hook
Lastly, you can use your outline and thesis to compose a hook that draws the reader's attention, promotes the focus of your article and remains suitable for your audience. Here are a few things to think about as you write your hook:
Relevance: Your outline and thesis can help ensure that your hook is to the point and fits your purpose.
Audience: Think about the audience for which you’re writing as you create a hook. Taking into account their interests, desires, fears and other considerations will both shape and be affected by your hook.
Cohesion: In most cases, a hook comes directly before a thesis, so consider writing a hook that pairs well with your topic sentence to promote cohesion.
Tips for writing an effective hook
You can use these strategies to write a hook that engages your readers' interest:
1. Start with an interesting fact
One strategy you can use to write a hook that attracts your readers' attention is to begin your piece with an interesting or obscure fact. This strategy can help you appeal to your readers' senses of wonder and reason and encourage them to continue reading.
Related: Types of Essays and When To Use Them
2. Use a compelling anecdote
Another strategy for writing a hook is to use a short, personal story that relates to your topic. An anecdote can appeal to your readers' emotions or feelings of compassion. Here are a few tips you can use to write an anecdotal hook:
Use the STAR method. STAR stands for situation, task, action and response. This method is commonly used to answer interview questions or present your work history on your resume, but it can also help you write an anecdote that's short but compelling.
Ensure your anecdote matches the tone of your writing. Choose an anecdote that likely would appeal to the audience you're writing for to help ensure it matches the tone of the rest of your piece.
Limit anecdotes for more formal writing. An anecdotal hook is an informal way of introducing a piece of writing. If you're writing a serious essay or article, limit your use of anecdotes and opt for a hook that matches the formality of the piece.
Example: In my career as a social worker, one immigrant family I worked with didn't know English, which made it challenging for my agency to address the family's needs. I connected the family with English classes at the local community center. By the end of the year, the children in the family spoke fluent English, while the adults could successfully converse with me in English. This experience taught me the importance of connecting families with community resources.
3. Begin your writing with a quote
Another effective technique for writing a hook is to begin your piece with a relevant quote. To find a quote, you can research prominent individuals in your industry or field of study and learn about their famous statements and sayings. Starting with a quote can lend an air of authority to your piece and stir reader interest.
Example: In her best-seller A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson states, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."
4. Explain a common misconception
If you want to surprise your readers, you can write a hook that addresses a common misconception to draw their interest. This can be a powerful and credible way to introduce an idea.
Example: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employees in metropolitan areas generally have higher salaries. However, nuclear engineers who work outside of major cities actually make more money.
5. Use data to inform your thesis
Writing a hook that uses an impressive statistic or other interesting data can help you spark a reader’s interest. Be sure to use trustworthy sources when you're gathering your data to ensure your information is correct.
Example: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the participation of women in the labor force will continue to fall through this decade as employees in the baby boomer generation retire.
6. Tell a joke
If you're writing a less formal piece, such as a speech or blog post, an effective strategy for writing a hook is to begin by telling a joke or humorous story. This can entertain the reader while drawing their interest.
Example: How many software developers does it take to change a lightbulb? None. It's a hardware problem.
7. Ask a question
You can also ask a question in a hook that can set the tone for the rest of the content. Readers may want to know the answer to the question, which can encourage them to read on to learn more about the topic. You can also ask a rhetorical question, or a question with an obvious answer, to introduce a topic.
Example: What does it mean to be a leader?
8. Use a contradictory statement
Another hook that you can use to surprise your reader is to use a contradictory statement. To use this hook, you can contradict an accepted fact or take a contrarian stance on a disputed topic.
Example: While a declining number of professionals in this industry report high job satisfaction, this has not been true for me. I look at the challenges our industry faces as opportunities for growth and advancement.
9. Define a term
A common strategy for writing a shorter hook is to define a term for the reader. This is a versatile way to introduce a subject that you can use with a variety of writing styles, audiences and tones.
Example: Leadership is the ability to use social influence to influence others in a task or initiative.
Frequently asked questions
What's the difference between a hook and a thesis?
A hook is a statement that draws the reader's attention. A thesis explains the central point of the essay, paper or other piece of writing. Often, a hook is the opening statement, and it's followed by supporting sentences to connect it logically to the thesis.
What are some different types of hooks?
Some types of hooks include:
Question: This type of hook asks the reader a question to which they want to know the answer.
Quotation: You can use a quotation from a well-known person as a hook to provide credibility to your argument.
Statistic: A statistic hook offers quantifiable data to show readers the importance or significance of the topic.
How long is a hook?
Usually, a hook is one to two sentences at the beginning of an introductory paragraph. A concise hook helps attract the reader's attention immediately.
Why is it important to write a good hook?
It's important to write a good hook so readers feel motivated to continue reading. An effective hook can convince a reader that it's worth their time to read what you've written.
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