It is a well-known fact that first impressions are important. This remains true even when it comes to writing. The way you begin your essay, paper or literary work largely determines if the reader will be motivated to continue reading the rest of the text.
The best way to ensure that your paper gains the attention of the reader is by using a hook. A hook is the first one or two sentences that you begin your essay with.
The hook is meant to attract and capture the attention of the reader, hence the name. It can be used in a variety of papers but mainly in argumentative and persuasive essays.
In reality, a hook can be pretty difficult to come up with, especially with college essay. This is mostly the case if you have not taken the time to arrange the structure of your essay and come up with a list of ideas you wish to present and how you can present them.
The Writers at Unemployed Professors understand the importance of the hook and therefore embarked on this article to help you create an attention-grasping hook for your essay.
Why hooks are important
A great hook is essential in any essay due to several reasons;
- It helps capture the attention of the reader–Beginning the essay with a statement or two that create suspense in the minds of the readers helps by motivating the reader to read on.
- Helps the reader decide if the essay is worth reading – This comes in handy especially if your grade is on the line. The reader decides whether your essay is worth the time. A perfectly delivered hook serves in convincing the reader that, yes, this is a professionally written essay and it deserves your time.
- Serves as an introduction to the essay – In as much as the hook is meant to capture the attention of the readers, it also gives a hint of what the paper will be about.
Where hooks are used
Hooks are among the most used items in the literary world. They can be used in literally any written works. Some areas where it is commonly used include
- Short stories
- Narrative scripts for movies
- Blog posts
- Articles (even this very one)
The examples are endless. Any piece of written work you encounter should have a hook at the beginning or at every paragraph. In long works such as novels, hooks can be found at the beginning of every chapter. They serve as a motivation for the reader to go on with the book. In this paper we will only tackle hooks for use in essays.
Characteristics of a good hook
A good hook should;
- Give the reader an idea of what the essay will be about.
- Suggest some questions that will be answered later in the essay.
- Urge the reader to read on.
What to do before you come up with a hook
A hook is only as effective as the content it precedes. You cannot come up with a good hook if you have no idea what you will write after that. In order to concoct an effective hook, there are some things you need to do first.
- The type of essay that you are writing
Hooks vary differently depending on the literary work you are writing. This is because the writing style used in different essay types, whether argumentative, persuasive, critical, narrative or descriptive essays is not the same. Your hook should, therefore, be in consistency with the type of essay given.
- Have an essay structure
An essay structure is a plan of the ideas you want to outline in your essay and how you intend to present them. Having an essay structure ensures that the hook you come up with does not contradict with the rest of your essay.
- Understand the audience of your essay
This is the intended audience for your essay. It may be your professor or course facilitator, parents, students or even an open letter with no specific audience. This helps in deciding the type of hook to use. A more forgiving audience such as the readers of a magazine can take a joke as the hook of the essay and will appreciate it. A more serious audience such as your college professor would appreciate more formal hooks, such as a question or a fact.
- Know the tone you will use in the essay
This, as with the audience of the essay, helps decide what the hook should look like. A casual tone would allow the use of a casual hook while a formal tone would require a more formal hook.
- In what field is the essay
An essay on a field such as fashion, television and media will be more accepting to a casual hook. An essay on health and medicine will be more restrictive when coming up with a hook. Ultimately, the decision on whichever direction you want to take rests upon you and your judgement of the task at hand.
Types of hooks that you can use in your essay
There is a myriad of hooks that you can use in your essay. We have taken the liberty to list some of the most commonly used hooks and some examples.
A)). Using a thesis statement as a hook
A thesis statement is a statement that attempts to outline the topic, your ideas and your stand on the issue in one sentence. It attempts to consolidate your entire essay in a sentence or two.
Using a thesis statement is a great idea especially if you are writing about an interesting topic and are using unique and tasteful ideas to support or refute it.
A thesis is also a compulsory statement in an essay and one would be killing the proverbial two birds with one stone by using the thesis as a hook.
School shootings have become a common menace in the education system and Americans need to device new ways to regulate guns and prevent gun violence.
The degradation of natural resources in Africa has been a major cause for concern for environmental experts all over the world in recent years.
B)). State an interesting fact
This is a great alternative to stating a thesis statement as your hook. It is a great way to get your audience hookedby astounding them with an interesting fact that they have never heard before.
The fact you choose to use should, however, be related to the topic at hand. An unrelated fact will only serve to divert the attention of the audience from what you have to say in the rest of the introduction.
Judicial review was first seen in the early nineteenth century landmark ruling of Marbury v. Madison. This was the first case in which the Supreme Court struck down a congressional decision because it was in violation of the constitution.
Greece is an ancient civilization located at the very south of the Balkan region and home to an assortment oftwo thousand islands strewn across the Grecian sea, making it the country with the longest coastline in Europe.
C)). A literary quote
Another great hook idea is by using a literary quote. This may be a quote from a book, a novel, a journal or a blog post that you feel inspired you.
However, you should also take care when choosing a literary quote as a hook. This is because most of the time, an inspiring quote may not be relevant with the essay you are writing on. Such quotes should be assumed and a more suiting hook or quote selected for the purpose.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us” are words written by J.R.R Tolkien that speak volumes about the short time we have to save our planet from environmental annihilation.
“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had”, a statement from Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsbygoes far in highlighting that food shortage in the third-world countries is as much their fault as it is ours thatthe sun rises in the east.
D)). A quote from a historical icon
History is riddled with quotes from great mean and women who changed the world with great utterances and speeches.
Some of these can be borrowed in order to create a great hook for your essay.
When Dwight Eisenhower said “A people that value its privileges above its principles soon loses both”, he seems to have spoken in foresight of the chaos The Second Amendment would bring in the twenty-first century.
No words can better describe the current Brexit drama than Abba Eban’s “A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually”.
E)). Strike with a number or statistic
Starting your hook with a statistic is a good way to impress the audience or reader with a piece of statistic that they knew little about.
The statistic shows that you did extensive research on the topic before starting on the essay and might earn you some extra credit. The statistics should be from a credible source and can also include a citation to the source.
It is estimatedthat shoppers spend up to one billion dollars during Christmas shopping in the US alone while shoppers in the UK spend up to 2.6 billion dollars during the holiday season, making Christmas the biggest holiday in the world.
According to a study conducted by the University of Witwatersrand, two in five men (38%) from Johannesburg admitted to having initiated forced sex at least once. When this is extended to broader violence, the statistic jumps to 54%, making gender-based violence in South Africa a major cause for concern.
F)). Pose a question
This is also another effective method to begin an essay. The method of using a question as a hook is fool-proof since the audience will naturally read more in order to view the answer you give to the question.
A pitfall to consider when coming up with an inquisitive hook is the dreaded yes/no question. Using such a question leaves the audience without the need for an answer since they can easily answer the question by themselves.
An inquisitive hook can also be a rhetoric question to provoke the thoughts of the reader.
What would happen if a third world war occurred? The entire would all go up in a nuclear flame. This is an evident call for more lenient foreign policies in this age.
G)). Reveal a common misconception
A great way to awe your reader is by exposing a common misconception. The idea that knowledge that you have known since you were a little kid could be wrong is the perfect trigger to hook the reader into what you have to say.
It is common knowledge that cooking burns all alcohol from food. Recent studies have however disproved this misconception and found out that food cooked for even up to two hours contains at least ten percent of the alcohol used to cook it.
Contrary to popular opinion and the media coverage, violent crimes have been on a decline in the US in recent years.
H)). Using an anecdote
An anecdote is a short story that is used to create humor or told as a joke in informal settings. An anecdote can be used as the hook in an essay or article.
A good anecdote starts with setting the scene in order to give the audience or reader an image of where the event is happening.
It isadvisable to consider the purpose of the essay before using an anecdote.
As my cousin and I pedaled our new bikes to the beach, 6 years old, suntanned and young, we met an old, shaggy-haired man weaving unsteadily on a battered old bike.
I)). A paradoxical hook
You can also start a hook with a contradictory statement. This is stating two sides of an argument and agreeing with both simultaneously. It creates some suspense as the reader wants to know why you hold the contradicting views.
The plan by President Trump and the Republicans to build a wall along the Mexican border is both a good and poor decision.