7 Sensational Essay Hooks That Grab Readers’ Attention
by Suzanne Davis | Jul 14, 2022 | Writing Essays and Papers | 12 comments
Do you want people to feel excited when they read your essay?
The secret is to get them interested in reading your essay by making the first part of your introduction intriguing. The best way to do that is by using attention-grabbing essay hooks.
So, what is a hook? It’s a piece of writing at the beginning of your essay that engages your reading audience. Usually, a hook is a sentence or group of sentences that draw people into reading your essay or research paper. A hook sparks a person’s curiosity. You want whoever reads your essay to wonder what happens next. Hooks also make an introduction stand out (which raises your chance of getting a high grade on your essay).
If you want to see all the elements of great introductions for research papers check my post, How to Write a Strong Introduction to a Research Paper at https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/how-to-write-a-strong-introduction-to-a-research-paper/.
When you write essay hooks that make your rea ders curious, you’ve taken the first step toward making them fall in love with your writing. Let’s dive in and look at essay hooks that will elevate your writing style!
7 Types of Essay Hooks
Here are 7 writing hooks that make readers want to find out what you will say in the rest of your essay.
- Interesting Question Hook
- Strong Statement/Declaration Hook
- Fact/Statistic Hook
- Metaphor/ Simile Hook
- Description Hook
- Quotation Hook.
1. The Interesting Question Hook
An interesting question hook is when you ask a question that relates to your essay or paper. And the only way a person can know the answer to that question is by reading your writing.
People are inquisitive. When we hear or read a question we want to know the answer. If we don’t have an answer then we need to find out.
So, when you start your essay with a question hook, this signals to your readers that if they keep reading you’ll give them the answer.
Here’s an example of an interesting question hook on the topic of succeeding in college:
What is the difference between successful college students and unsuccessful college students?
The goal of this essay hook is to make you want to learn what students who succeed in college do, and what college students who don’t succeed in college do wrong.
2. The Strong Statement/Declaration Hook
A strong statement hook is a sentence that makes an assertive claim about your topic. It connects to the thesis statement and shows the importance of your essay or paper.
A strong statement is a great technique because it doesn’t matter if your reader agrees or disagrees with your statement. They will want to see how you support your statement.
This is an example of a strong statement on the topic of the vegan diet.
Vegans are the healthiest group of people in the world.
This statement either supports your point of view about the vegan diet, or it makes you want to argue against it (especially if you love meat). Either way, you are curious about what the writer says.
3. The Fact/ Statistic Hook
Facts and statistics hook your reader because they give real information about a topic. You can impress your reader with your knowledge and evidence from the very beginning of your essay. But, you need to include facts that are accurate, interesting, and reliable. Evaluate your information and make sure it comes from a credible source. Some places to visit for statistics are The Pew Research Center https://www.pewresearch.org/ , and The CIA World Fact Book, https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/.
Here’s an example of a factual hook about an essay on gun ownership in the United States.
Almost two-thirds of American adults at some point in their life lived in a home with at least one gun.
The Pew Research Center, “America’s Relationship With Guns: An In-Depth Look at the Attitudes and Experiences of US Adults” http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/06/22/americas-complex-relationship-with-guns/
4. The Metaphor / Simile Hook
The metaphor/simile hook engages your readers because it makes them think about a topic in a different way. Your audience wonders what you mean and how you compare a topic to something that seems unconnected.
A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly compares one thing to another, but these two things seem unrelated. An example of a metaphor is: Her boyfriend is a rat. The boyfriend is not really a rat, but he behaves like one.
If your essay topic is on business blogging you could write the metaphor hook:
A business blog is a magnet pulling clients to a company.
A simile is like a metaphor. Both compare two unrelated things to each other, but a simile uses the words like or as to connect them. A simile is less strong than a comparison in a metaphor. An example of a simile is : Writing a research paper is like running a marathon when it’s 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
A simile hook for the essay about business blogging could be:
A business blog is like a magnet that pulls clients to a company.
5. The Story Hook
This is a hook where you begin with a short story or episode that relates to your topic. Readers love stories, especially a well-written story that is memorable. The key to a great story hook is making sure the story directly connects to your essay or paper topic. Your story can be personal or someone else’s story.
Here’s an example of a story hook for an essay about the differences between British and American English. I used my own story about a trip to England.
I got off the train and pulled my luggage behind me. A cab pulled up to the curb, and the driver got out. He lifted my luggage and said, “Miss, I’m just going to put your stuff in the boot.” I didn’t know what he meant until I saw him open the car’s trunk. Then I realized the boot means car trunk. I got in the cab, wondering how many other words would be different in England.
You’ll see this sto ry hook is longer than other types of essay hooks. That’s okay. Your hook can be longer, but it shouldn’t be a large part of your essay or paper. Compare the length of your hook to the length of the essay.
Also, consider your audience (especially an academic audience). Ask yourself, “Will a story hook be acceptable in this course?” If you’re unsure you can ask your teacher or professor or you could select a different type of hook.
6. The Description Hook
This is a hook where a vivid description of a scene draws your readers into your writing. A good description hook will make your reader want to know what comes next in your writing. It’s most popular in narrative essays, but you can use a description hook with any type of writing (yes even academic papers). But, like the story hook ask yourself, “Will this description hook be acceptable in this course?”
Here’s an example of a description hook for a personal narrative essay about saving a dog:
The dog howled in pain and limped along the side of the road. His leg was cut and blood streamed down his leg.
Doesn’t this scene make you curious about what will happen to the dog?
7. The Quotation Hook
This is a hook where you begin your essay with a quotation. The quotation could be from a famous person, but it doesn’t have to be. You can quote anyone if it connects to what you’re writing about.
If you write an essay on the topic of education you could start
Nelson Mandela said, “ Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world .”
If you want to use a quotation for a hook, make sure you quote the words exactly. Choose quotations where the words are striking, powerful, and/ or memorable.
Writing Challenge: Write 2 Essay Hooks
Essay hooks are a great way to intrigue all your readers. Select your favorite 2 types of essay hooks. Then write a hook for each kind you choose. Comment below and share your favorite one!
Have fun and be creative.
Photo by Bram Naus on Unsplash
I find that switching it up makes my content better. My favorite is to start with a question or a strong statement. I love this infographic. Well done!
Thanks Joanne! Question and strong statement hooks are great for getting readers to wonder what’s in your essay. I’m so glad you liked the infographic.
This is a great article, showing the variety of openings you can use in writing. Thank you for the tips!
I’m glad you liked it. I think hooks are great for writing.
[…] For more information about essay hooks see-https://www.academicwritingsuccess.com/7-sensational-types-of-essay-hooks/ […]
Very good blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally overwhelmed ..
Any suggestions? Many thanks!
Hi Cindy, Those are great questions about blogging. I think the beginning point with starting a blog is determining your niche/focus, goals and your ideal readers. The next piece of advice is to really learn the style of writing blog posts. It’s a craft, so you should really start with a good grasp of the formatting, style, and techniques, etc. Since I don’t know your blog’s focus I can’t offer you more specific advice.
If you can afford it, I suggest paying for a domain name and hosting. There are free ones like WordPress.com etc. These will get you started, but if you want to use your blog for a business I really recommend starting with a paid option. I hope this helps you. Good luck blogging!
Thank you for this informative Eda’ya. My favorite hooks are question, strong statement and the fact. I think these are the best for an academic paper. Your infographic is excellent and memorable. Thank you! ??
Mehmet, Those are all great hooks! I think they would each be a great way to begin an academic paper too. I’m glad the infographic is useful to you. Thank you for the compliment.
These are great. I’ll have to file this away for my next writing student (and my next blog post!). For research papers, I used to use the fact/statistic hook a lot.
Beth, I’m glad you liked these essay hooks. I like the fact/statistic hook a lot too, and you’re right it is a great one for research papers.
I like question hooks & metaphoric ones…
I need to write to essays for tomorrow at English (preparing for Baccalaureate) & I’ll choose “success is not about luck” & “the importance of music in our lives” …
For the first one I’ll choose the first type of hook (for me it’s the easiest): “How can you be sure that when it comes to success, luck isn’t so important” or sth like this.
But for the second essay I’ll choose a metaphoric hook “music is the spot of light who makes shine in gray tones” or sth like this.
For the first one I was also thinking about sth statistically but idk not a kind of statistics about luck help in success or sth like this…
Ik, you can’t give me advices till tomorrow but I’ll be OK. Thx for this gorgeous inform. God bless you. All the best!
I think those are 2 great hooks to use with those essays. I love the metaphoric hook you came up with–it’s beautiful. I hope you do well with your essays. Good luck!
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How to Write a Hook
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- Current: How to Write a Hook
A hook is an opening statement (which is usually the first sentence) in an essay that attempts to grab the reader’s attention so that they want to read on.
It can be done by using a few different types of hooks, which are a question, quote, statistic, or anecdote. Be mindful that the hook has to be related to the overall topic of the paper. Here are a few examples of each type of hook.
A question hook is when you ask the reader something that they can visualize and try to think of in their own minds. Then, the writer answers the question.
- Example: Have you ever watched the high-flying, jump shooting, slam dunking, ankle breaking players that play in the NBA? Every time I catch a game on television and I witness the thrill of the game, I can’t help but watch another one.
A quotation hook is when a quote is used and explained that has relevance to the topic at hand. Make sure this quote comes from a credible source. Also, talk about the quote’s meaning afterwards to ensure that the reader isn’t confused.
- Example: “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen” said Michael Jordan, arguably the best player to ever play in the NBA. Here, Jordan talks about how people want, dream, wish, and pray that they will one day make it to the big stage. These are usually the people that never make it. It is only when these dreamers and wishers take matters into their own hands and strive to be the best that they actually get to play professional basketball in the NBA.
A statistic hook can be used for more informational pieces of writing. The writer uses a quote from a source that relates to the main idea of the paper, but the quote must have some type of statistics, such as numbers, decimals, or and/or percentages. The meaning and relationship of the quote to the paper needs to be explained afterwards just in case the reader does not quite understand
- Example: “Just 0.00545 percent of the 550,000 boys playing high school basketball each year in the United States become a first-round draft pick — 1 in 18,333” stated Jeff Rabjohns, a writer for The Indianapolis Star, in an article titled “Prep players face long odds of making it to NBA.” Basically, only a few high school players will make it to the NBA. Even though there are many that strive, play, train, practice, and fight to be great, a huge majority of them do not make it.
When a writer uses a short story to relate to the topic and gain the reader’s attention, they are using an anecdote. This story can be a short, personal story or one that is a figment of your imagination. Make sure that it relates to the main idea of the paper. Show the relevance that it has to the topic of the paper.
- Example: When I was in high school, I remember playing in an AAU basketball league. We had to travel to downtown Philadelphia on the weekends for basketball practice. Each and every time we had basketball practice (which was at 8 a.m.), there was a boy around my age in the gym by the time we arrived. He was always covered in sweat, throwing up shots, practicing his layups, practicing his dribbling, and running laps around the gym. He was in such great shape. One day, I mustered up the courage to ask his about his ambitions, and he told me that he gets up at 5:30 a.m. to go to the gym and practice hard until my team comes in for practice. A few years later, this guy was entering the NBA draft from high school. When I saw him get drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, I knew exactly why. All that hard work had paid off for him. This is the hard work ethics and mindset that everyone that wants to make it to the NBA should have.
Have more questions? Visit the Writing Studio, and we’ll be happy to help!
Starting an Essay: How to Write a Hook
Have you ever found yourself just coming to the end of reading an article or post, having not planned to, but you wound up anyway — followed by the natural curiosity of how it absorbed you? That’s it! You were hooked! Your attention was captured by that first sentence and it made you so curious that you read the whole text.
Do you want to learn some little tricks about how to catch the attention of your readers? If so, please continue reading this guide from our paper writing service and we will tell you all that we know.
What Is a Hook in Writing?
A hook is a short piece of information provided at the very beginning of an essay and is aimed to attract and hold readers’ attention. Usually, it is no longer than 1-2 sentences, but it should be so intriguing, interesting, or impressive that readers naturally end up wanting to know more and read further.
You may use a hook in most essay types, with no limitations. Everything depends on the hook itself. For example, a line from a poem isn’t an appropriate hook for an expository essay, whereas a joke has little chances of becoming a good hook for a persuasive essay for a serious topic.
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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:
A Hook + Short Description of your Topic + Thesis.
Here is an example:
A Hook: Do you know that 0.3% of solar energy from the Sahara is enough to power the entirety of Europe?
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?
Thesis: It seems that the problem, as it often happens, is inside the minds of people and their inability to take action.
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.
Let’s say your essay topic is about climate change, here are two hooks. We will examine which of these is properly written:
- Climate change is impacting human lives and their health in a variety of ways: it threatens clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply, and safe shelter.
- According to World Health Organization between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress alone.
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.
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How to Write a Good Hook for Your Essay
If you want to learn how to write the best essay hook you possibly can, here are some rules you need to follow:
- 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.
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Strategies for Writing an Essay Hook
Now, let’s move directly to hook types that exist, and their features:
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.
Example Hook: “There have to be reasons that you get up in the morning and you want to live”.
Elon Musk’s quotes are, generally, great hook ideas for persuasive essays on how to achieve the best results of your life in business and how to have an impact on the world.
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.
Example Hook: “The Buddha was not fat”, “Fortune cookies are not Chinese”.
You may start with these phrases if you want to show how often things are different from how we are used to seeing them. This approach is typically appropriate for an explanation or reflection essay.
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.
Example Hook: “I stop fighting my inner demons, because we are on the same side.”
This is the best way to open an explanatory essay about the role of bad habits in our lives and how to understand them, not fight them.
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.
Example Hook: There are 4.2 billion Instagram Likes per day.
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.
Example Hook: “Have you ever thought about how much plastic waste you produce every year?”
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.
Example Hook: “The population of the USA is 319 million people and the number of firearms owned by US citizens is 371 million [resource link] — in fact, there are more guns than people.”
This is a great option to start your gun control essay.
For most people, it is easier to remember and process visual information. Another insight into the human brain is that we like to transform words into images inside our heads. So, if I tell you: do not imagine a big shaggy dog. You will do exactly the opposite! In making people imagine the things you write about, you involve them more. Try to use it for narrative or descriptive essay format .
Example Hook: “Imagine yourself sitting in front of the fire, with a cup of tasty tea and your dearest people with you.”
Another trick is not to use any tricks. Just start directly from your main statement. You won’t be able to put a lot into a couple of sentences, and you don’t need to. Though, you may outline what you are going to say in your essay and why it is so important.
Example Hook: “I strongly believe that the most important thing in preventing nature’s pollution are our personal contributions, and I would like to share my experience with you.”
Despite this guide not being short, we really believe it will help you write short and effective hooks for your essays. You can also read our term paper example to learn more. Try, and shortly you will be able to appreciate this technique. Use our service and buy an essay if you need.
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How to Write a Good Hook for Your Essay
Last updated: July 2019
“You have to make choices even when there is nothing to choose from.” ― Péter Zilahy
And you have to find a perfect hook for your essay even when you don’t know what to write.
Strategies for writing an essay hook:
- Use literary quotes.
- Write a quote from a famous person.
- Surprise with a misconception.
- Write an anecdote.
- Tell a personal story.
- Use statistical data.
- Ask a question.
- Share a fact or a definition.
- “Draw” a scene.
- Start with a thesis statement.
The #1 prejudice most students have on essay writing: it’s time-consuming, difficult, and bo-o-oring .
When teachers ask you to write an essay, they don’t want to ban your creativity. An essay shouldn’t be boring or too formal but make readers want to check its every word. And your task is grabbing and keeping their attention throughout your writing.
An essay hook is that particular instrument you need to meet this challenge.
What is an Essay Hook?
“An essay hook is 1-2 opening sentences of your paper. They serve to capture readers’ attention and help them decide if they want to continue reading your text.
We call it a “hook” because it reminds a shiny lure that fishermen use to catch a fish. And, depending on the fish they want to catch, they will use different hooks.
Do not confuse hooks with introductions ! An essay hook opens your introduction rather than substitutes it. Once you’ve hooked readers, be sure to introduce your essay topic and thesis.
- A hook. Write a strong opening sentence capturing readers’ attention.
- A topic. Tell readers about the focus of your essay.
- A thesis. State your opinion on the topic.
Essays and college papers are not alone in hooks. Fiction writers, copywriters, bloggers, screenwriters, and other men of letters use this instrument to gain our interest and influence our decisions. Did you hear about David Ogilvy and his timeless lessons to writing and standing out? He’s a true genius of hooks and persuasion!
Essay hooks can be difficult to generate, especially if you are still in the process of thesis clarification . The first step toward writing an eye-catching opening for your essay would be answers to these questions:
- What is the type of your essay?
- What writing style and tone do you need to use?
- Who is your intended audience?
- What text structure do you need to establish?
A PRO TIP: Write a hook and introduction after you’ve finished the whole essay. It will help to clarify a thesis and understand what type of hooks would fit your work better.
To get a better idea of what a terrific introduction looks like, watch the video tutorial from James , who defines essay hooks as grabbers.
Essay Hooks Ideas
So, what types of opening lines can you use as a good hook for an essay?
1) Literary Quotes
This type of hooks works for essays about writers , literature phenomena , books , and essay makers . Start your essay with a quote from books you review , and it will establish your authority as a writer .
2) Quotes From Famous People
To support your argument and create a lip-smacking hook for your essay, start it with a quote from famous people. But make sure it’s relevant to your topic and thesis.
That’s all well and fine but…
Some teachers consider this type of essay hooks too general and overused when you write my term paper . They discourage college papers started or finished with words of influencers, not students themselves. So, if you decide to use such a hook, find a rare yet relevant quote. Don’t copy-paste the first available saying from top quotations websites.
3) Common Misconception
You may start your introduction with a statement about a commonly accepted truth being false. That will intrigue your audience and encourage them to keep on reading.
- “Most Americans mistakenly believe that all rice is essentially the same.”
- “Most coffee addicts would tell you their favorite drink comes from a bean, but they are wrong. Coffee is made from a seed called a bean.”
“An anecdote is a little story designed to illustrate a point you are trying to make.
This hook is appropriate to use if you write narrative or descriptive essays. Don’t be afraid of writing funny openings, as it doesn’t mean your essay has to be humorous too. A little humor helps to grab readers’ attention and spark their interest in the topic.
Your anecdote should be short and to the point. Make sure it relates to the main idea of your essay.
Remember that most essay assignments don’t allow to write from the first person. Be sure to check the requirements before using “I” in your writing.
5) Personal Stories
This hook is perfect for personal narratives or college application essays, though you would hardly use it for argumentative or too formal persuasive papers. Ask your professor if you can use personal pronouns in your writing, and hook readers with a personal story which not necessarily should be yours.
You can tell the story of your friend, relative, or president. Why not, after all?
But please, don’t start your essay with a hook like “I was thinking about what to write for this essay and came up with this.”
Teachers hate it! Sure, this hook is better than no hook at all, but it will never distinguish your work from the crowd.
Use statistical data to hook readers with new facts they might not have been known. Be sure to include the source.
- “People lie in 1 out of 5 conversations lasting more than 10 minutes, according to Allison Komet from the Psychology Today magazine.”
- “70% of all jobs found today were got through different networking strategies.”
- “Fifty percent of marriages end up in divorce.”
- “The average iceberg weighs over 100,000 metric tons.”
Do research to find data on your topic. Refer to sources your teacher would consider reliable.
This type of hooks can help you create a reader’s personal interest in your essay and wish to continue reading it. But don’t make your question too general.
Let’s say you write an essay about smartphones. Asking a question a la “Do you have a smartphone?” will hardly grab readers’ attention because it doesn’t engage them in critical thinking.
So, try to avoid questions expecting simple Yes or No answers.
Rhetorical questions could be a good idea for essay hooks.
As well as quotes from famous people, they are easy to create and, therefore, overused too. You’ll need to wind up your brain to impress a reader and make that question catchy.
This hook can surprise a reader with something they might not have known. Interesting facts about what you are going to discuss in your essay will intrigue your audience and make them want 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.”
Be careful with definitions! Your professor will hardly like your essay opening if you copy it from a dictionary. So, if you decide to start an essay with a definition related to your topic, avoid something like this:
- “Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘truth’ as ‘the state of being the case; factual; the body of real things, events, and facts’.”
A bold pronouncement, outrageous statement, or exaggeration will help you hook readers, too.
- “If you say you’ve never told a lie, then you’re lying.”
- “Cigarettes are the primary cause of cancer.”
- “If the government cuts any more money from education, the entire country will crumble.”
People are visually-oriented. Depending on the type and length of your essay, “draw” a scene in your hook to help readers “see” a clear picture in mind.
Decide on a scene that would appeal to senses and set the mood for your essay.
10) Thesis Statement
There is no harm in getting right to the point. Start with your argument and support your point of view throughout the essay. If you have an interesting take on a subject, readers will want to see where you came up with your idea.
- “It is time to reveal the truth about Thanksgiving, and the truth is that Thanksgiving is 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.”
So many hooks, so many essays. The logical question appears: how do you know what type of openings in the introduction would fit your paper best?
Well, you might ask our writers to help you or continue reading this post to get more tips on writing hooks for your essay.
How to Choose a Good Hook for Your Essay
With so many types of essay hooks, you wonder how to choose the right one for your particular paper. The problem is, there’s no single formula here. To know what hook to consider, keep in mind the following:
- Your audience
- Your essay type
Depending on who reads your essay, one and the same message will speak in different ways to them.
It’s clear that a hook you use to attract a college girl would hardly help you spark the interest of a college admission counselor. So, the first question to answer before going on the writing road is:
- Who is my audience? Whom do I want to target with my essay?
Then, try to figure out what matters to your readers and what they expect to get from the essay .
- Do they read it to solve a problem?
- Do they want to learn interesting facts about you?
- Do they need distinctive information on the topic?
- Do they want to see that you understand a subject?
Once you’ve nailed it down, you’ll know what types of hooks will work for this particular writing.
The type of hooks that would fit your paper best depends on the essay type, either.
For example, anecdotes don’t work for writing a critical précis , but they would catch readers of dialectic essays. Quotes and questions are perfect hooks for novel critiques or persuasive essays , while facts or statistics fit argumentative essays best.
Don’t start your essay with a great hook simply because it’s great. It should be relevant to your topic, thesis, and purpose of your paper.
Questions to answer before choosing an essay hook:
- How do I want my readers to feel?
- What do I want my readers to learn?
Depending on feelings you want to evoke, an essay hook may be some shocking statistics, a romantic personal story, a funny anecdote, a motivational quote, etc.
Depending on the purpose of your writing, make an essay hook reflect it. Common misconceptions or outrageous statements may encourage readers to learn something new, while catchy questions would engage in critical thinking or motivate.
Essays are many. Narrative, persuasive, argumentative, or descriptive – they all need hooks, aka grabbers to attract readers to your writing. These grabbers are many, either. To choose the best one for your paper, consider a type of your essay, its audience, and their needs.
No matter how strong they are, hooks alone can’t guarantee A+ grades for your writing assignments. State a thesis, organize research on the topic, and outline your essay before choosing a grabber for it. Opening lines lead the way of your papers and make them worth reading.
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69 thoughts on “ how to write a good hook for your essay ”.
This article has helped me a lot understanding how to write an attractive HOOK ! Thanks a lot for this good methods 🙂
This helped a lot! I was sitting trying to think of a hook for 2 hours until I found this.
Yeah, me too I WAS! stuck on thinking for a hook until I found this website! Thanks for this website its is now going to be easy for me to write this down. The book Im going to make a hook on is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 🙂
I could’t see what it was then i saw and it was awsome
ya this helped me too. im just burned out since i basically write a essay every week since school started over online.
A good hook doesn’t use you. You need to stay in 3rd person instead of trying to tell a reader what to do and yes or no questions are to easy for readers. They can easy shy away from your essay. Just a few up to date tips 😉
Now that depends on the type of essay you write. I’m currently writing one and “you” and “I” are big factors and elements in this. To hook a reader, personally, I think that facts won’t do the trick. You need to show them what you think and thats what the supporting paragraphs are for.
Don’t say i think, i believe, or anything that basically begins with i. saying that makes you sound not decided on your topic.
I think your website is ok but you didn’t really explain how to create a good hook step by step.
You are wrong
It is perfect.
helped a lot espaicially for descibtive essays as the example of facts or deffiniton
I don’t start my essays with a question because some teachers think it is a childish way of beginning an essay, but definitions often make a great hook. Just make sure to cite where you got the definition.
This was extremely helpful, not only for my current essay but also for future references
Thanks this helps me a lot for my English final!
This was actually really helpful for my essay at school.
So I found this as good information but I am going in to Honors 9 English this following year and I have certain requirements for this essay. I am not allowed to use a question or quote for my introduction. I think that maybe you could go more in depth with the steps. I think that these were some really good ideas and techniques. Thank you for the information.
IT IS VERY USEFUL TO ALL THE STUDENTS who are going to sit for sp or tp3 exams ..Tq …
Part of the question hook was wrong. You can not ask the reader a question directly, for they can not answer it. This weakens an otherwise strong hook. For example, if you state “have you ever wondered, whether Anna Karenina still loved Alexei if she hadn’t decided to commit a suicide” you should say “would Anna Karenina still love Alexei if she hadn’t decided to commit a suicide” instead.
?s like that are rhetorical
I disagree with the Grammar Soldier that one cannot ask the reader a direct question in a hook. A rhetorical question is one way to get the reader’s attention if it is posed well. It works because it draws the reader into becoming an interactive participant. Rhetorical questions are recognized as being useful, especially in the art of persuasive speaking and writing.
My teacher told me to write a hook with an anecdote but I have no idea on what to write. The topic is What makes an individual powerful?
Well summarised article on hooks, but cheated by using a drawing as a hook. Just felt the need to put it out there. No offence intended
This is a fantastic article! Even though I do not agree with some of the ways to start an essay, this made me think of some great hooks!
You didn’t really explain how to write a hook step by step, you only gave examples. But it’s still helped me a lot, so it’s ok.
This has been a great help! I was stuck on what were writing hooks because our teachers never really mentioned it yet until now! I could have made better essays if i had known earlier. 😉
this really helped to write a good hook for my essay thank you for the examples
This Helped A Lot, Thanks!
it would be super helpful if you made a post similar to this for CONCLUSIONS! I’m always stuck on conclusion hooks since in our essays we aren’t allowed to use 1st person
This will help a lot for my scholarship application.!!!!!!!!!
Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group? There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Many thanks
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I have also stuck in this kind of situation but thanks to your service it became much easier!
Thank you so much! It really helped for my essay!
Thank you so much!!! I sat on my couch for 3 days trying to think of a hook.
THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH!!!! I was so stuck thanks to this website… I had best essay in class, and I don’t know what I would of done without this website.
It was helpful…thanks for what you wrote.
This helped a lot I was thinking of a hook for 2 hours
I have to write about two pages for creative writing. Do you have any ideas that I could use, or a topic for by paper? Thank you!.
It’s really important to grab attention of the reader and it can be achieved only first few sentences. If first sentences didn’t interest the reader, he won’t read the essay till the end.
What if I’m writing about medicine, IT or engineering paper? Will these essay tricks also apply?
This really answered my problem, thank you!
Hello, I read your blog on a regular basis. Your story-telling style is witty, keep doing what you’re doing!
First of all I would like to say terrific blog!I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing.
I have had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts ouut there. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Many thanks!
Thanks for publishing this awesome article. I’m a long time reader but I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment. I subscribed to your blog and shared this on my Facebook. Thanks again for a great article!
This helped a lot, I spent a very long time thinking on how to start my essay before I saw this! Like some others, my teachers do not approve of using a question to start writing pieces because it seems too childish. Other than that, I think this article was great!
I am not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic.
I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic info I was looking for.
You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!
This site was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something which helped me. Kudos!
When someone writes an article he/she maintains the thought of a user in his/her brain that how a user can understand it. Thus that’s why this piece of writing is amazing. Thanks!
thanks for sharing this information..have shared this link with others keep posting!
Does a hook have to be one or two sentences or can it be like three or four.
I’d recommend keeping it short. Three or four sentences – it’s a kinda half of your essay introduction already 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing a great information. I appreciate your time and effort in your work. Keep posting.
I just like the helpful information you provide for your articles. I will bookmark your blog and check once more here frequently. I’m somewhat certain I will be informed many new stuff proper here! Good luck for the following!
Hey! I’m at work browsing your blog!Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the fantastic work!
Is it right for a writer to use second person in a hook?
I was told by my high school teacher that I was wrong because I used a hook in my essay that had “you” and “your”. I am skeptical of this because I had previously learned otherwise.
Hi Cat, and thanks for the question!
So many teachers, so many rules 🙂 Seriously though, there are some guidelines on the web saying you can’t use ‘you’ and ‘your’ in essays, because it’s not okay to address a reader in formal writing to avoid confusion. However, it all depends on what type of essay you write:
– a personal essay: sure, you can you ‘you’ and ‘I’ – persuasive or narrative essay: ‘you’ is still okay, though you can try to avoid it, if necessary – reviews, research, precis, and other TOO FORMAL academic writings: you better don’t use the second person.
How to omit ‘you’? Just don’t write it or use ‘one’ instead. Examples:
– “Don’t text while you drive,” vs. “Don’t text and drive.” – “You shouldn’t disrespect the rules,” vs. “One shouldn’t disrespect the rules.”
thank you for the information it was a huge help
I really think this was some good hook ideas, but you didn’t go in-depth on how to think of one. I believe if you included some advice on how to start one, it would’ve increased the article’s ‘ego’ drastically. Thank you for the info anyway!
This article really helped me to better understand the purpose of a hook and what to do when in distress. I sat for an entire class period trying to find my hook. Thanks so much!
I like this a lot! It helps me as a student. I do suggest this to others!
I’ve searched so many sites to find how to write a hook, and non of them gave real legit examples. Thank you!
Thank you for this! I can use these tips to my blog content. Great stuff!
Good post, Thanks for sharing the information with us.
Thanks for such an interesting blog! The content is extremely good and useful for me. Please keep posting, I’ll definitely share with my friends. 🙂
Any plans to update this with new examples or any additional hooks? The post is super but I’d like to see more recent examples
Thanks for your comment! We’re working on the guide to writing hooks for informative essays right now. There will be tons of examples and practical tips. It will go live this month.
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How to Write a Hook for an Essay
Ever hear that you never get a second chance to make a first impression? Well, that’s just as true for your writing as it is for meeting new people!
That’s because, to a reader, diving into something you have written is often the very first chance they have to discover anything about you. The first things they read help shape how they feel about you. And, of course, whether they want to keep reading at all!
To make a great impression, and to keep readers excited and engaged, you need a good hook. But what is a hook, and how can you craft an awesome one? That’s what we’ll explore below, by talking through different kinds of writing you may want to write a hook for, and then offering specific examples that you can use for inspiration.
What is a hook in an essay?
The hook is the first statement in a piece of writing. It may be composed of one sentence (generally for shorter pieces) or multiple sentences (for longer ones), but the goal of any good hook is to firmly get the reader’s attention.
This is one reason why both high school teachers and college professors often emphasize the importance of essay hooks when writing college essays (for example, with a Literary Analysis ). The title of your written work may be enough to get people to check it out, the same way you might click on an online article with an interesting title. However, an essay hook does the same thing for your essay that an exciting opening does for any article: it makes the reader excited to keep reading!
In this guide, we are mostly focusing on writing good hooks for essays. However, the general principles here extend to almost any form of audience communication. From personal statements to speeches and presentations, it’s virtually always important to strike a good impression by getting someone’s attention in an interesting way.
What are some good hooks for essays?
There are several standard approaches to writing a hook that can work well for many different types of writing:
An intriguing rhetorical question
A suprising fact or statistic
A relevant quotation
An interesting anecdote
An evocative image or description
A common misconception
But some of these approaches work better (sometimes much better) than others depending on what you’re writing. For example, a good hook for a personal narrative probably doesn’t fit with a research paper. So below, we have examples of a hook in an essay for different styles of papers. Use these sections, along with resources in our College Writing Center , to develop your own hooks for the writing tasks in front of you!
Adjusting hooks based on prompt and purpose
Creating the hook in an essay is often a difficult skill for writers to master. That’s because there is no “one size fits all” for how to create a hook for an essay. Instead, learning how to make a hook for an essay depends on your exact writing prompt as well as your exact purpose.
Below, we have important info on how to start a hook for an essay for a wide variety of different prompts and purposes. This information can help you create more dynamic essays no matter what your ultimate goal may be.
Writing a hook for an argumentative essay
“What is a hook in an essay?” This is something students usually first learn about when they are writing essays for high school classes, though sometimes students make it to college without a clear understanding of what a hook is and how to build one. And when the essay is argumentative , it’s important to learn how to create a properly argumentative hook.
A hook in an essay making a firm argument needs to do more than get the reader’s attention. Ideally, such a hook will also serve to set up and frame the argument so as to subtly get the reader on your side before they even discover your thesis. In this way, you can change the conversation before the reader even knows what you are talking about!
While not the only way to make argumentative hooks, one effective technique is to ask an interesting rhetorical question and using the word “you.” Because readers naturally want to answer questions, and because they are being directly addressed, these readers will perk up when reading your hook.
Finally, consider that because the hook is at the very beginning of your essay, this gives you creative freedom to be a tad mysterious in how you present certain ideas. In fact, the hook is basically the only part of your essay where being mysterious may be beneficial!
Example of a hook for an argumentative essay
Again, in an argumentative essay, the best hooks are the ones that both get the reader’s attention and get them to almost subconsciously take your side even before they know what that side is. For example, let’s say that you are writing a paper in which you oppose creating additional firearm legislation. Such a paper might start with a hook such as “What if your government were putting your family in danger, and you didn’t even know it?”
Here, we are deliberately playing into the mystery by not explicitly mentioning guns (but note that we probably don’t want to keep it mysterious for too long, or we might lose our reader). This makes the reader curious about the “danger” they are in, especially when we mention their family. At the same time, we are creating an oppositional view of the government, planting seeds for our eventual anti-legislation thesis.
Writing a hook for a personal statement
How to write a hook in an essay is a bit different when you are writing a personal statement . That’s because you aren’t introducing readers to an argumentative thesis. Instead, you are getting their attention in a way that also creates a positive impression of you as both a person and a writer.
In other words, a personal statement addressed to, say, a university undergraduate admissions committee has one major goal: to sell you to the reader. To clarify: most undergraduate colleges in the US admit most students who apply . But if you’re applying to competitive schools, your personal statement needs to demonstrate the kind of value you plan to bring to the institution.
Because of this, you need to craft your hook to match the rest of the statement. For example, if you are going to describe how you overcame an unforeseen challenge, a good hook might start with a moment of high tension before you present the challenge as it appeared to you at first: encompassing and insurmountable. This adds narrative weight to the part of your statement where you describe overcoming what seemed to be impossible. Or if you’re building a montage , an intriguing image might pull us in.
Long story short? You need to figure out how you want to structure your essay content . Then, you can craft a hook that perfectly leads into the rest of the work. Again, don’t underestimate how you can portray things mysteriously at the beginning of the essay to both showcase your creativity and to build reader interest!
Example of a hook for a personal statement
It’s easier said than done, but a good hook for a personal statement helps to establish tone and focus or even what kind of person you are while setting up the rest of the statement. For instance, let’s say I am writing a statement for a university application and the prompt asks the writer to describe a time when they overcame a great challenge or obstacle. The hook for such an essay might go like this: “I found myself face down on the wet mud, covered in equal parts hot shame and cold dirt. Nobody was as surprised as me, though, when I began to get back up again.”
Here, we use sensory details to capture the reader’s imagination and really put them into the moment. In this case, the moment is one of great failure and humiliation. Crucially, though, part of the hook involves quite literally rising from this failure. This shows the admission committee what kind of person you are: one who may get knocked down 10 times but will get up 11.
Writing a hook for a personal narrative
Writing a good hook for an essay may seem particularly daunting when you are writing a personal narrative. By definition, a personal narrative is a story of your life. Therefore, good essay hooks for such narratives need to both get the readers’ attention and introduce you to readers as a sympathetic character.
What does this mean in practice? Rather than touching on much (if anything) about the outside world, a personal narrative hook should usually share something about you as a person. Ideally, this shouldn’t just be basic info. Instead, it should be something that reveals more intimate information about you to your reader.
This might include writing about how you felt when a loved one died, or how it felt when you tried your best and you failed. It can be tough to write, but this level of vulnerability never fails to get the reader’s attention. And done well, such a hook instantly tells readers more about what kind of person you are. This may add some much-needed flavor and context to the rest of the narrative.
Example of a hook for a personal narrative
Writing a personal narrative involves a high degree of vulnerability. You are letting readers see past your exterior and glimpse who you really are. Therefore, a good hook for such a narrative should lean into this emotional rawness while telling us more about who you are as a person. For example, such a hook may read, “Nothing was ever the same since my grandmother died. Or at least, nothing would ever be the same about me again.”
There is obviously a kinship between the personal statement and the personal narrative. However, personal statements are generally about helping readers understand your values, insights, skills, qualities, and interests. Personal narratives, however, get more into how both the challenges and triumphs of your life have defined who you are as a person. And our hook above sets up a great personal tragedy that serves as a defining point of the writer’s life.
Writing a hook for literary analysis
Good essay hooks can be particularly difficult when you are writing a literary analysis (for an in-depth guide, head to that link). After all, when you are writing about someone else’s work, it can be daunting to try to come up with something very memorable on your own.
One possible approach to this hook is the classic: “if you can’t beat’em, join’em.” For example, you could always begin your literary analysis with a quote from the literature in question. You then follow this up with interesting commentary that helps to contextualize the rest of your intro.
You could also return to the argumentative technique of asking a rhetorical question but focusing it on something related to the literature. This helps readers think about old works in new ways and serves as a jumping off point for your own analysis.
However you begin the hook to your literary analysis essay, it’s important to demonstrate two things at the same time: one, that you know the written material very well. And two, that you know how to get the reader’s attention from the very first sentence.
Example of a hook in a literary analysis
When you write a literary analysis, it is sometimes difficult to find something new and unique to say. The last thing you want to do is just retell what happened in the story without adding anything to it! That’s why your hook needs to both get the reader’s attention and also showcase that you have something unique to say about the work you are analyzing.
One way to do this is to use a rhetorical question regarding some aspect of the work. The question needs to get the reader’s attention while simultaneously demonstrating your knowledge of the subject and the uniqueness of what you have to say. For example, in a literary analysis of The Great Gatsby , you might have a hook that begins, “What happens when you finally grasp the American dream and then feel it slip through your hands like a warm summer rain? This perfectly describes both Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway. But as you read The Great Gatsby , it’s impossible to shake the feeling that it will describe all of us sooner or later.”
This hook serves as a dynamic introduction to your paper. It also helps set the stage for analyzing how the rise and fall of these characters is mirrored by the rise and fall of America itself. Finally, that evocative first line shows that not only do you have something unique to say, but that you have a way of expressing it that is worthy of this classic work of literature.
Writing a hook for a research paper
The methods for how to write a good hook for an essay change a bit when you are writing a research paper . That’s because research essays are typically a bit more down-to-earth than, say, an argumentative essay. As such, your hooks shouldn’t swing for the fences so much as they should provide surprising insights based on the research itself.
For example, depending on your research essay topic, one or more “scary stats” can really get readers’ attention because these stats help quantify some of the things you plan to write about. It’s one thing to call something like obesity in America a “growing” concern, and this may even elicit a mild chuckle from your reader (puns!). However, a cited statistic about how nearly 72% of the country is overweight instantly makes your reader sit up and pay closer attention.
While startling facts or stats are a great fit for almost any type of research paper, they resonate particularly well if you are arguing about the need to solve a major dilemma. Because these stats help outline why the problem is so major even as they get readers’ attention, you’ll be likelier to have these readers on your side as you begin discussing the need to solve this dilemma.
Example of a hook in a research paper
In a research paper, one of your major goals should be to establish your authority and expertise. The essay itself is going to build on the research you have conducted. And fittingly enough, clever use of the right research can help you create an unforgettable hook.
For example, let’s say that you are writing on the topic of solving homelessness in America. One very evocative way of beginning your essay would be to write, “America currently has more than 17 million vacant homes, yet somehow, homelessness has never been a bigger problem.”
The eye-opening stat alone is sure to get your reader’s attention. At the same time, it helps to highlight the absurdity of this particular problem by highlighting the obvious possible solution. This helps to get the reader on your side as you passionately argue for solving the issue.
Hook vs lead-in transition to the thesis
As you can tell, writing a hook for an essay can be challenging enough on its own. However, it can be extra challenging when you confuse the hook with other important parts of your intro.
For example, some writers confuse the hook with the lead-in transition to the thesis itself. To avoid this confusion, it’s important to learn how these different intro components play very different roles in your writing.
In practice, a good hook makes a difference when it comes to whether or not someone willingly continues to read what you have written. Think of it like this: a great title makes somebody curious enough to check out your writing in the first place. If they think the essay is boring or otherwise mundane, they stop reading. But if they think you have something surprising, insightful, or just plain funny to say based on your first sentence, they’ll probably keep going.
A hook is always at the beginning of your essay. However, as a general rule, it’s best to have your thesis at the end of your introductory paragraph or section. Because of this, your lead-in transition to the thesis occurs right before the thesis itself.
How do you write a lead-in transition to your thesis? It’s helpful to think of your introduction as an upside down triangle with the following components: a title (if used/needed) that makes readers curious, a hook that gets their attention, a surface level of background info, and then deeper background info. This deeper background info should provide more context and effectively serve as a lead-in transition to your thesis. For example, in an argumentative paper, you might have a lead-in describing the different sides people have taken about this topic before providing a thesis that lets readers know exactly where you stand on the matter.
One approach: Write your hook after you’ve finished your essay
Here’s some slightly unconventional writing advice. Next time you are stressing over hooks to start an essay , consider writing your body paragraphs and conclusion first . You can then go back and create a perfectly bespoke intro, complete with engaging hook.
When you get right down to it, writing the intro first is very difficult for most writers. After all, you are introducing us to an essay you haven’t written yet. Once you write out more of the essay, you should have an easier time developing every aspect of the thesis, including crafting a killer hook.
Get that first impression “write”
With these examples of a hook in an essay, you can do more than craft a better essay. You can also create a killer first impression right out of the gate!
It’s important to remember that a good hook can make the difference between whether someone delves deeper into your writing or decides to bail out right away. By mastering the skills of getting someone’s attention in such a way, you will become a better writer, speaker, and presenter. And each day presents another chance to hone your writing skills and create hooks and entire essays better than anything you have ever written before!
Special thanks to Chris for writing this blog post
Chris Snellgrove is an English Professor at Northwest Florida State College who specializes in literature, rhetoric, and business writing. As a freelance writer, Chris specializes in sales, marketing, pop culture, and video games. He has a B.A. in English from Troy University and both an M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Auburn University. When he’s not writing or talking to others about writing, Chris loves reading books, playing video games, watching horror movies, and disappearing into a comic book. He currently lives in Northwest Florida and would probably rather be at the beach right now.
Top values: Diversity / Equality / Social Justice
How to Write a Hook to Captivate Your Readers
The art of the hook is a vital component in the realm of essay writing. But what is a hook?
A hook is typically the first one or two sentences of an essay or article that is designed to grab the reader’s attention. Much like a fish gets literally hooked by bait, the hook of an essay should captivate your audience and make them want to read more.
Catch your reader's eye Grammarly can help make your writing shine Write with Grammarly
But knowing how to write a hook for an essay is a tough skill to acquire. For one, the vast amount of content out there—tweets, blogs , articles, emails, and more—make it challenging to compete for readers’ attention.
Moreover, people get distracted easily, and if you don’t hook them quickly, you might lose them.
Knowing how to write a good hook is an essential part of effective essay writing . By exploring the most common types of essay hooks, you can learn how to best engage audiences from the very beginning and develop a hook that’s right for your paper.
5 examples of essay hooks
1 statistic hook.
The statistic hook gives your audience a true and hard fact to latch onto from the get-go. Gaining your reader’s trust through expertise early on will help reinforce the points you make in the rest of your argument. Plus, a striking statistic can make your audience instantly interested in the topic at hand, motivating them to keep reading and learn more.
For example, if you’re writing a research essay about the link between sleep and stress, you can begin with a powerful statistic from the American Psychological Association like this one:
“According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, 43 percent of adults claim that stress has caused them to lie awake at night in the past month.”
2 Quotation hook
If you choose a memorable quotation that directly connects to what you’re writing about, the words will do the attention-grabbing work for you. Just make sure to attribute and explain the quotation after you include it so that the reader isn’t confused. And most importantly, the quotation you choose should add to the credibility and richness of your argument, rather than seeming like a random or one-off statement.
If you’re writing a literary essay about resiliency in Maya Angelou’s poetry, you might start off in this way:
“Maya Angelou once said, ‘Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances.’”
3 Anecdotal hook
Depending on the nature of your essay or article, anecdotal hooks can make for an intimate opening that tells your reader more about you. Though it’s not typical to write an essay in the first person , there are some times when you can make an exception, like in a narrative essay . This type of hook can be a little longer than others; just make sure that its length is relative to the rest of your essay.
If you’re writing about the differences between British and American baking, you might discuss an experience you had on a trip to London at the start of the essay:
“ When I first arrived in London, I was ravenous. I headed to a cafe just outside of the hotel to test out some of the local flavors and ordered a pot of tea, a scone, and pudding. But when the pudding arrived, I was surprised not to find a sweet, chocolatey custard. Instead, this pudding was made from something I’d never encountered before: mutton fat.”
4 Question hook
Posing a question at the start of a piece will immediately capture the reader’s attention and leave them wanting more. Make sure the question is open-ended. You want to make sure you’re giving the reader something to explore further, rather than asking them a simple yes or no question. People are naturally inquisitive, so give them something good to chew on.
An essay about dog psychology might begin with a question similar to this:
“ What is the difference between a well-adjusted dog and an anxious one? For starters, owners that encourage their dog’s excitement can make anxiety seem like a behavior that’s rewarded.”
5 Statement hook
Kicking off your essay with a solid declaration of your argument or position is another smart way to hook the reader. Even if they don’t agree fully with your statement, they will be intrigued to see how you support your assertion. Statement hooks often make the reader either want to argue against your view or follow along as you develop your claim.
When exploring the historical value of French cinema, you could start with a strong, declarative hook like this one:
“ French cinema is the most influential genre of film in the last 100 years and has singlehandedly shaped modern cinema as we know it.”
A great hook will not only get your reader’s attention, but it will build toward your thesis and give your reader an idea of the essay they’re about to read. Any of these options, done well, can make your essay start strong and stand out.
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A Hook for an Essay
- Body Paragraph
- Essay Outline
- Language Used in Academic Writing
- MHRA Referencing
- Opinion vs Fact
- Works Cited
- Emotional Arguments in Essays
- Ethical Arguments in Essays
- Logical Arguments in Essays
- The Argument
- Writing an Argumentative Essay
- Image Caption
- Personal Blog
- Professional Blog
- Anaphoric Reference
- Cataphoric Reference
- Discourse Analysis
- Discourse Markers
- Endophoric Reference
- Exophoric Reference
- John Swales Discourse Communities
- Email Closings
- Email Introduction
- Email Salutation
- Email Signature
- Email Subject Lines
- Formal Email
- Informal Email
- Active Voice
- Adjective Phrase
- Adverb Phrase
- Complex Sentence
- Compound Adjectives
- Compound Sentence
- Conditional Sentences
- Coordinating Conjunctions
- Copula Verbs
- Correlative Conjunctions
- Dangling Participle
- Demonstrative Pronouns
- Dependent Clause
- Descriptive Adjectives
- Future Tense
- Grammatical Mood
- Grammatical Voices
- Imperative Mood
- Indefinite Pronouns
- Independent Clause
- Indicative Mood
- Infinitive Mood
- Interrogative Mood
- Irregular Verbs
- Linking Verb
- Misplaced Modifiers
- Modal Verbs
- Noun Phrase
- Optative Mood
- Passive Voice
- Past Perfect Tense
- Perfect Aspect
- Personal Pronouns
- Possessive Pronouns
- Potential Mood
- Prepositional Phrase
- Present Participle
- Present Perfect Progressive
- Present Perfect Tense
- Present Tense
- Progressive Aspect
- Proper Adjectives
- Reflexive Pronouns
- Relative Pronouns
- Sentence Functions
- Simple Sentence
- Subjunctive Mood
- Subordinating Conjunctions
- Superlative Adjectives
- Transitive and Intransitive Verbs
- Types of Phrases
- Types of Sentence
- Verb Phrase
- Academic English
- Anglo Saxon Roots and Prefixes
- Bilingual Dictionaries
- English Dictionaries
- English Vocabulary
- Greek Roots, Suffixes and Prefixes
- Latin Roots, Suffixes and Prefixes
- Modern English
- Object category
- Regional Dialects
- Rhyming Dictionary
- Sentence Fragments
- Social Dialects
- Subject Predicate Relationship
- Subject Verb Agreement
- Word Pronunciation
- Essay Time Management
- How To Take a Position in an Essay
- Organize Your Prompt
- Proofread Essay
- Understanding the Prompt
- Analytical Essay
- Cause and Effect Essay
- Claims and Evidence
- Descriptive Essay
- Expository Essay
- Narrative Essay
- Persuasive Essay
- Essay Sources and Presenting Research
- Essay Structure
- Essay Topic
- Point Evidence Explain
- Research Question
- Sources of Data Collection
- Transcribing Spoken Data
- Australian English
- British Accents
- British Sign Language
- Guided Discovery
- Indian English
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- Orthographic Features
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- Great Vowel Shift
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- King James Bible
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- Accent vs Dialect
- Code Switching
- Descriptivism vs Prescriptivism
- Dialect Levelling
- English as a lingua franca
- Kachru's 3 Concentric Circles
- Language Changes
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- Rhotic Accent
- Social Interaction
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- Strevens Model of English
- Technological Determinism
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- Language Acquisition Support System
- Language Acquisition in Children
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- Theories of Language Acquisition
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- Williams Syndrome
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- Literary Context
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- Literary Representation
- Mode English Language
- Narrative Perspective
- Poetic Voice
- Accommodation Theory
- Bernstein Elaborated and Restricted Code
- Casual Register
- Concept of Face
- Consultative Register
- Deficit Approach
- Difference Approach
- Diversity Approach
- Dominance Approach
- Drew and Heritage Institutional Talk
- Eckert Jocks and Burnouts
- Formal Register
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- Gary Ives Bradford Study
- Holmes Code Switching
- Intimate Register
- Labov- New York Department Store Study
- Language and Age
- Language and Class
- Language and Ethnicity
- Language and Gender
- Language and Identity
- Language and Occupation
- Marked and Unmarked Terms
- Neutral Register
- Peter Trudgill- Norwich Study
- Phatic Talk and Banter
- Register and Style
- Sinclair and Coulthard
- Social Network Theory
- Sociolect vs Idiolect
- Variety vs Standard English
- Connotative Meaning
- Denotative Meaning
- Figurative Language
- Fixed Expressions
- Formal Language
- Informal Language
- Irony English Language
- Levels of Formality
- Lexical Ambiguity
- Literary Positioning
- Occupational Register
- Paradigmatic Relations
- Rhetorical Figures
- Semantic Change
- Semantic Reclamation
- Syntagmatic Relations
- Text Structure
- 1984 Newspeak
- Critical Theory
- Forensic Linguistics
- Linguistic Determinism
- Logical Positivism
- Natural Language Processing
- Rhetorical Analysis
- Sapir Whorf Hypothesis
- Active Listening Skills
- Address Counterclaims
- Group Discussion
- Presentation Skills
- Presentation Technology
- Compound Words
- Derivational Morphemes
- Lexical Morphology
- Active Reading
- Process of Elimination
- Words in Context
- Click Consonants
- Fundamental Frequency
- International Phonetic Alphabet
- Manner of Articulation
- Nasal Sound
- Oral Cavity
- Phonetic Accommodation
- Phonetic Assimilation
- Place of Articulation
- Sound Spectrum
- Source Filter Theory
- Voice Articulation
- Vowel Chart
- Sound Symbolisms
- Communication Accommodation Theory
- Conversational Implicature
- Cooperative Principle
- Deictic centre
- Deictic expressions
- Figure of Speech
- Grice's Conversational Maxims
- Politeness Theory
- Semantics vs. Pragmatics
- Speech Acts
- Aggressive vs Friendly Tone
- Curious vs Encouraging Tone
- Feminine Rhyme
- Hypocritical vs Cooperative Tone
- Masculine Rhyme
- Monosyllabic Rhyme
- Optimistic vs Worried Tone
- Serious vs Humorous Tone
- Surprised Tone
- Tone English Langugage
- Analyzing Informational Texts
- Comparing Texts
- Context Cues
- Creative Writing
- Digital Resources
- Ethical Issues In Data Collection
- Formulate Questions
- Internet Search Engines
- Literary Analysis
- Personal Writing
- Print Resources
- Research Process
- Research and Analysis
- Technical Writing
- Action Verbs
- Adjectival Clause
- Adverbial Clause
- Appositive Phrase
- Argument from Authority
- Auditory Description
- Basic Rhetorical Modes
- Begging the Question
- Building Credibility
- Causal Flaw
- Causal Relationships
- Cause and Effect Rhetorical Mode
- Central Idea
- Chronological Description
- Circular Reasoning
- Classical Appeals
- Close Reading
- Coherence Between Sentences
- Coherence within Paragraphs
- Coherences within Sentences
- Complex Rhetorical Modes
- Compound Complex Sentences
- Concrete Adjectives
- Concrete Nouns
- Consistent Voice
- Counter Argument
- Definition by Negation
- Description Rhetorical mode
- Direct Discourse
- Extended Metaphor
- False Connections
- False Dichotomy
- False Equivalence
- Faulty Analogy
- Faulty Causality
- Fear Arousing
- Gustatory Description
- Hasty Generalization
- Induction Rhetoric
- Levels of Coherence
- Line of Reasoning
- Missing the Point
- Modifiers that Qualify
- Modifiers that Specify
- Narration Rhetorical Mode
- Non-Testable Hypothesis
- Objective Description
- Olfactory Description
- Parenthetical Element
- Participial Phrase
- Personal Narrative
- Placement of Modifiers
- Post-Hoc Argument
- Process Analysis Rhetorical Mode
- Red Herring
- Reverse Causation
- Rhetorical Fallacy
- Rhetorical Modes
- Rhetorical Question
- Rhetorical Situation
- Scare Tactics
- Sentimental Appeals
- Situational Irony
- Slippery Slope
- Spatial Description
- Straw Man Argument
- Subject Consistency
- Subjective Description
- Tactile Description
- Tense Consistency
- Tone and Word Choice
- Twisting the Language Around
- Unstated Assumption
- Verbal Irony
- Visual Description
- Authorial Intent
- Authors Technique
- Language Choice
- Prompt Audience
- Prompt Purpose
- Rhetorical Strategies
- Understanding Your Audience
- Auditory Imagery
- Gustatory Imagery
- Olfactory Imagery
- Tactile Imagery
- Main Idea and Supporting Detail
- Statistical Evidence
- Cultural Competence
- Intercultural Communication
- Research Methodology
- Object Subject Verb
- Subject Verb Object
- Verb Subject Object
- Author Authority
- Direct Quote
- First Paragraph
- Historical Context
- Intended Audience
- Primary Source
- Second Paragraph
- Secondary Source
- Source Material
- Third Paragraph
- Character Analysis
- Citation Analysis
- Text Structure Analysis
- Vocabulary Assessment
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Good writing starts with a good first sentence. The first sentence of an essay is an important one. It is an opportunity to grab the reader's attention and make them want to read more. This is called the hook. A good hook for an essay catches the reader's attention and gets them interested in your topic. Let's go over the different types of hooks and the helpful ways to write them.
Essay Hook Definition
The hook is the first thing the reader sees in an essay. But what is it?
A hook i s an attention-grabbing opening sentence of an essay. The hook catches the reader's attention with an interesting question, statement, or quote.
The hook catches the reader's attention by making them want to read more. There are many ways to "hook" the reader's attention. It all depends on your essay.
A good hook is important to get the reader interested in what you have to say!
A Good Hook for an Essay
A good hook is attention-grabbing, relevant to the essay's topic, and appropriate for the writer's purpose. Let's take a close look at the different features of a good hook.
A Good Hook Is Attention-grabbing
Imagine you are scrolling through your email inbox. The "preview" feature shows the first sentence of each email. Why? Because the first sentence of the email is an important one! It shows you whether the email is worth reading. You use these "previews" to decide whether you want to open that email.
Think of the hook as that preview. The reader will use it to decide whether they want to read more.
A good Hook Is Relevant
Have you ever clicked on an article with an intriguing title only to learn that title was misleading? Misleading openers frustrate readers. Sure, it gets them interested. But it doesn't get them interested in the right thing.
A good hook gets the reader interested in the subject of YOUR essay. Therefore, the hook should be relevant to your topic.
A Good Hook Suits Your Purpose
What type of hook you use depends on the purpose of your essay.
Purpose in an essay is the effect the writer intends to have on the reader.
A good hook puts the reader in the right mindset to receive your ideas.
How do you want the reader to feel about your subject? What do you want them to care about?
5 Types of Hooks For Writing an Essay
The five types of hooks are questions, facts or statistics, strong statements, stories or scenes, and questions .
Four of them are as follows. The final one, "quotes," deserves its own spot! Examples are provided.
Questions for an Essay Hook
Another way to get a reader's attention is to ask an interesting question. This could be a rhetorical question or a question you answer in the essay.
A rhetorical questio n is a question with no real answer. Rhetorical questions are used to get a reader thinking about a subject or experience.
Rhetorical questions help the reader personally connect to your topic. Here's an example.
What would a world without war be like?
You can also ask a question you will answer in the essay. This type of question interests the reader because they want to know the answer. They have to read the rest of your essay to get it! Here's an example of that.
Why can't we watch anything without commercials anymore?
Facts for an Essay Hook
Did you know we create data every second of every day? By searching the web and using social media, we generate facts and statistics. Did that opener grab your attention? That's because it included a surprising fact.
A surprising fact or statistic can shock the reader into paying attention. It can also make them want to know more.
When writing a hook, you can use a fact or statistic that is:
- Relevant to your topic.
- Shocking enough to get the reader's attention.
- A good demonstration of your topic's importance.
1. Each year, people waste about 1 billion metric tons of food across the world.
2. We might think of computers as a modern invention, but the first computer was invented in the 1940s.
3. Children are always learning, and ask over 300 questions a day on average.
Stories for an Essay Hook
What better way to catch someone's attention than with a good story? Stories are great for getting the reader to think about an experience. Stories can come from anywhere!
Some places you might find stories for hooks are:
- Your personal experiences.
- Experiences of your friends and family members.
- Stories from books, tv, and film.
- Stories of famous people.
Which type of story you choose depends on your essay. What story would help the reader care about your subject? Here's an example of a story hook for an essay.
When my brother was 8 years old, he was diagnosed with Autism. After struggling with school and social situations for 25 years, I was also diagnosed with Autism. Why was I not tested in childhood like my brother? According to recent studies, it might be because I was a girl.
Note how the personal story of the writer highlights the point of their essay: gender differences in Autism diagnoses. This story gets the reader interested in the subject.
Sometimes a whole story is too much for a hook. In this case, you may find it helpful to simply describe one scene from a story. A vivid description of a scene can be very powerful. When describing a scene, paint a picture of what the scene is like for the reader. Make them feel as if they are there.
Here's an example of a great scene to start an essay.
I feel like I'm going to throw up. This is my third time taking the SAT exams. The words swim in front of my eyes, and everything I studied suddenly leaves my brain. I know I'm going to fail a third time.
Imagine this example is the hook for an essay about issues with standardized testing in schools. This scene is described in a way that shows how test anxiety is one of the big issues with standardized testing. It reminds the reader of what it's like for some students.
Strong Statements for an Essay Hook
Sometimes it's best to say what you mean upfront. A strong statement is a statement that takes a strong stance on an issue. Strong statements are particularly effective to argue a position or persuade.
The reader will either agree or disagree with your statement. That's okay! If the reader disagrees, they will at least be interested to see how you support your statement.
Online courses are the future of college.
Would the first example be as interesting if it said "Online courses are a promising avenue of teaching at the college level that we should explore in the future"? No! When writing a strong statement , use strong words. Keep it strong. Keep it direct. Keep it simple.
Quotes For an Essay Hook
The fifth and final way to write a hook way is to use a quote.
A quote is a direct copy of someone else's words. As an essay hook, a quote is a memorable sentence or phrase that gets the reader interested in your subject.
When to Use a Quote Hook
Use a quote for a hook in the following situations:
- When your topic or argument makes you think of a quote
- When someone else has already summed up your main idea perfectly
- When an example from a text you are analyzing perfectly sums up your analysis
Quotes seem like an easy choice for a hook. After all, using a quote means you don't have to come up with a sentence! But quotes are not always the best choice for a hook. Make sure the quote is relevant to your topic.
Examples of Quote Hooks
There are a few types of quotes you can use for a hook. Let's look at some examples of the different types of quotes in the table below:
Ways to Write an Essay Hook
To write a hook for an essay, consider your purpose, look for what's out there, and try different things. When writing a hook, there are a lot of options. Don't get overwhelmed! Take the following approaches:
Consider Your Essay's Purpose
What effect do you want to have on the reader? What do you want the reader to think or feel about your subject? Choose a hook that will give you that effect.
For example, if you want the reader to understand what an experience is like, tell a story. If you want the reader to feel the urgency of an issue, start with a surprising fact or statistic that demonstrates how important the topic is.
Look for What's Out There
Sometimes the perfect quote or story instantly comes to mind. Sometimes it does not. Don't be afraid to look! Use the internet, books, and friends to find ideas for hooks.
For example, let's say you are writing an essay arguing that teachers need better pay. You could look for stories of teachers who pay for their own supplies. Or if you are explaining the effects of hallucinogens, look for quotes from people who have experienced them.
Try Different Things
Can't decide what to do? Try out different types of hooks! See what works best. Remember, the best writing comes from trial and error. Here's an example.
You are writing an essay about the impacts of oil drilling on marine life. You look for a quote from a marine biologist. But all the quotes you find are inspirational! You wanted the reader to be outraged, not inspired. So, you tell a story to bring up those emotions. But your story is too long, and it doesn't really fit. Finally, you find a surprising fact about the death rates of whales that fits just right. Perfect!
Essay Hook - Key Takeaways
- A hook is an attention-grabbing opening sentence of an essay. The hook catches the reader's attention with an interesting question, statement , or quote.
- A good hook is attention-grabbing, relevant to the essay's topic, and appropriate for the writer's purpose.
- The five types of hooks are quotes, questions, facts or statistics, strong statements, and stories or scenes.
- To write a hook for an essay, consider your purpose, look for what's out there, and try different things.
1 Elie Weisel. “One Must Not Forget.” US News & World Report. 1986.
2 Carrie Underwood. "Carrie Underwood: What I've Learned," Esquire. 2009.
3 American Civil Liberties Union. "The Case Against the Death Penalty." 2012.
Frequently Asked Questions about A Hook for an Essay
--> how do i write a hook for an essay.
To write a hook for an essay: consider your purpose; look for quotes, stories, or facts about your topic; and try different things to start the essay in an interesting way.
--> What is a good hook for an essay?
A good hook for an essay might be a quote, question, fact or statistic, strong statement, or story that relates to the topic.
--> How do I write a hook for an argumentative essay?
To write a hook for an argumentative essay, start off with a strong statement about your topic. The reader will be interested to see how you support your topic. Or you could start with a surprising fact or statistic, relevant quote, or story to get the reader interested in learning more.
--> How do I start a hook for an essay?
To start a hook for an essay, consider the effect you want to have on the reader and select a type of hook that will have that effect.
--> How do I come up with a hook for an essay?
To come up with a hook for an essay, consider your purpose, look for what's out there, and try different types of hooks to see what works best.
Final A Hook for an Essay Quiz
What is a hook for an essay?
A hook is an attention-grabbing opening sentence of an essay. The hook catches the reader's attention with an interesting question, statement, or quote.
What are the features of a good hook?
What is purpose in an essay?
True or false:
A quote for a hook has to come from someone famous.
False. A good quote can come from anywhere.
What is a quote ?
A quote is a direct copy of someone else's words. As an essay hook, a quote is a memorable sentence or phrase that gets the reader interested in your subject.
When should one use a quote for a hook?
When the topic or argument makes them think of a quote
What are the different types of quotes one can use for a hook?
What is a rhetorical question ?
A rhetorical question is a question with no real answer. Rhetorical questions are used to get a reader thinking about a subject or experience.
A writer wants to get the reader thinking about their argument. What type of question can they use to encourage the reader to want to learn the answer?
a question answered in the essay
When writing a fact or statistic for a hook, it should be:
relevant to the topic
Where are some places one can look for stories to use as a hook?
If a story is too much for a hook, what else can a writer do to get the reader interested in an experience?
describe one scene from a story
Which type of hook is particularly effective for arguing a position or persuading?
a strong statement
True or false:
It's okay if the reader doesn't agree with a strong statement used for a hook.
True! Even if the reader doesn't agree with the statement, they will be interested in seeing how the writer supports that statement.
What are some ways to write a hook when you're stuck?
consider the purpose of the essay
Relevancy is less important for a hook.
It is the effect the writer intends to have on the reader.
It does not intend for you to provide an answer. Rather, creates emphasis.
A fact or statistic should or could:
Be relevant to your topic
Aim for an essay hook description to be:
- 5 Paragraph Essay
- Language Acquisition
of the users don't pass the A Hook for an Essay quiz! Will you pass the quiz?
More explanations about 5 Paragraph Essay
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