The start of an essay, article, or book is a crucial part. It is the second part of your essay that the reader sees, right after the title. Assuming that the title was interesting enough for the reader to open your essay, the first sentence should be captivating enough to encourage them to read. Simultaneously, the first sentence of your essay should immediately communicate what your topic is. It sounds like a lot of responsibility for one sentence, and it is. This is why you should not take that one sentence lightly. Read on to learn more about the first sentence of your essays—called the hook—and how you can write great hooks for your essay.
What Is An Essay Hook?
The essay hook is the opening statement of your essay. It is often the first sentence of your Introduction, but it could also be more than one sentence. It is the attention-grabber and the one that sets the tone of the essay as well as introduces its topic. As such, a great hook for your essay should be brief, but creative and informative at the same time. How can you achieve this each time you write a research paper, article, or any simple essay? We’ll give you some ideas on how to write a great essay hook.
Great Hooks For Your Essay
The kind of hook you should write for your essay should depend on the type of essay you are writing and your writing style (if it’s formal or informal). Nevertheless, here are some hooks for essay ideas.
Use an interesting fact
A piece of information that not many people are aware of is usually effective in sparking a reader’s curiosity. This interesting fact is a great lead-on for any type of essay since the fact can be about anything, and can be framed in a way that suits the purpose of the paper. A statistic is a strong starting point, however, you can also make a factual statement about the topic. A well-presented fact can pique the reader’s interest by making them curious about what the essay has to say about the topic or by making them ask questions that the essay will address. Here are a few examples:
"According to the WHO, around 20% of children all over the world are suffering from a mental disorder, yet only 3% are receiving psychological help."
“Suicide is a preventable tragedy, yet it continues to be the leading cause of death in the US.” (from our sample Psychology paper)
“People all over the world have been using a cellular phone for the past 30 years and for the same amount of time, the scientific community and the wireless phones industry had been trying to prove if mobile phones cause cancer or not.” (from our sample research paper)
“The recreational use of marijuana was initially legalized in Colorado and Washington in 2012, after which many other states followed suit.” (from our sample essay on a controversial topic)
Use an anecdote
Although this is most commonly used for reflective essays, an anecdote can also be used as a hook for informative essays and argumentative essays. An anecdote is a short account of an experience, whether the writer’s own or not, that makes a statement about a topic. The anecdote typically already reflects the writer’s point of view, and thus thesis statement, about an issue. For example, a writer who wishes to argue against punishing children could use their personal experiences to prove a point:
"As a child, my father was rarely at home, but during the times when he was at home, he often punished us. As a result, we were unable to form a strong bond with our father..."
“Only one person comes to mind when presented with the image of a woman with the bushy uni-brow, flowers on her braided hair, and colorful dresses. That woman is world renowned artist Frida Kahlo.”
“I still remember the years my family spent in the hospital taking turns to watch and take care of our bed-ridden grandmother. She can barely recognize us, and only the machines were keeping her alive. The question of mercy killing was brought up numerous times then.”
“Since I was twelve, I have not been able to walk the streets comfortably, not since a man told me something I did not fully understand but knew was sexual as we passed by each other. Years later, I realized that I was not alone in this experience.”
As you can see from the examples provided, an anecdote could also touch the reader’s emotions. The anecdote as an essay hook could also reveal the mode of persuasion you will use.
Start with a quote
Another great hook for your essay is a quote. This can be a quote from anyone famous, as long as it is related to your topic. Be careful, however, in choosing a quote. Since this is a relatively easy way to start an essay, many use this technique. So, your quote should not only be related to your topic but should be thought-provoking. In addition, a great quote would be something that you can refer back to throughout your essay to give more depth to your discussions. This way your reader (aka your professor) sees that you put enough thought into choosing this quote.
A great hook for a biography essay on someone famous, such as Maya Angelou, for example is a quote that captures her contribution in history. For example, this quote:
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
If you’re writing a book report or an analysis of a book or story, it is a good idea to use a quote from the work as a hook. For example, a good hook for an essay on To Kill A Mockingbird would be:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
“Let me start this essay with the quote “The unexamined life is not worth living,” which is not only the subject of this essay but is also Socrates’s most quoted statement.” (from the sample Philosophy term paper)
The key to using quotes as a hook for your essay is to explain the meaning and significance of the quote to your topic and thesis statement. As mentioned earlier, the quote should be something you return to throughout the essay, meaning it should be significant throughout your essay. Don’t forget to cite quotes properly when you use them as essay hooks.
Use a simile or a metaphor
Similes and metaphors are two of the most popular literary devices. They are used to compare two completely different things to make a vivid description. A simile or a metaphor could be used in an essay to make your hook richer, and thus more interesting. It adds layers to your introduction that encourages readers to continue reading.
“Children have always been regarded as the symbol of the future. This is an apt metaphor, considering how each child possesses great promise.” (from the sample Psychology paper on child abuse)
“Racism is a disease that has plagued society for centuries.”
“Education is the foundation that support’s a child’s development.”
“The world has been transformed into a global village, where one person can reach another person thousands of miles away as if they were in another block. This phenomenon would not have been possible without globalization.”
Make a strong statement
Another essay hook idea is to make a strong or assertive statement at the start of your essay. The statement does not have to be the thesis right away, rather it should imply what you think of the topic. A strong statement is an effective attention-grabbing technique since it makes the reader want to see what you have to say in your essay, whether they agree with it or not. As you may have guessed, this type of essay hook works best with argumentative and persuasive essays. Here are some strong statement hooks ideas:
“Certain rights and privileges come with age. The right to vote, for instance, does not come until a person reaches the age of majority. The privilege to drive an automobile is likewise granted only after a person reaches a certain age, in most cases the age of 16 or 17 years. Even the purchase of cigarettes is allowed for people of a certain age, given the harmful effects of smoking.” (from the sample persuasive essay)
“They say that if you remember the 60’s then you weren’t at Woodstock. But the truth couldn’t be farther from this because many people still remember the weekend of August 15, 16, and 17 1969.” (from the sample essay on Woodstock 1969: Peace And Love)
“Over the past several years, securing women’s right to abortion have taken big steps in many countries.” (from the sample essay on abortion)
“The Land of the Free has always stood loud and proud about democracy and individual rights, with some even going as far as believing the country to be the epitome of freedom.” (from our research paper on NRA And Gun Control)
Write a vivid description
A vivid description never fails to hold people’s attention. It makes the reader want to read more about the subject of your essay. You can use this technique on almost any subject—people, places, events, even an issue. However, you will need to hone your descriptive writing skills before you can pull off this essay hook.
“Nuremberg, a city in Bavaria, Germany — the “City of Reich Party Rallies” — is a lovely city, but in its streets live the horrifying shadows of the past because it was in Nuremberg that Adolf Hitler established the laws that stripped off many people of their known racial identity and social worth.” (from the sample history research paper)
“Majority of people nowadays lead a sedentary life—they commute to work in their cars, sit most of 8 hours hunched over the computer, and then sit on their couch until it’s time for bed.”
“For years, the sidelines of vibrant Pride Parades in various states, are lined with people bearing crosses, bibles, and hateful speech scribbled angrily on a placard. Almost always, these people are furiously shouting at the LGBTQ+ community and their allies who try to ignore their tirades.”
“I was welcomed by a strange scent as I stepped out of the plane and into the jet bridge connected to the main building. Everything seemed to move too fast, people hurried to and fro, dragging their heavy bags around. This is New York, I thought to myself.”
Ask a compelling question
Questions are always welcome in essays. Just as the thesis statement can be a question, you can also start your essays with a question. Your question could be a rhetorical question meant to set your introductory statement. Alternatively, you can use a question to encourage the reader to think about their own points of view regarding the topic you are writing about, as well as to pique their curiosity about the answer. With that said, the question you present as an essay hook should always be addressed at some point in the essay.
“How many times in a day do you encounter advertisements? Advertisements nowadays exist in almost every corner of our lives—you find them in your phone, cereal box, street lights, and so on.”
“Are people who have pets remain happier than those without?”
“Do you get quality sleep every night? Studies show that 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep, while 1 in 4 adults suffer from insomnia.”
“Which is the superior operating system—Microsoft or macOS? These are the two top operating systems used in the world, and are the subject of serious debates.”
These are just some ways to make great hooks for your essay. Don’t forget though that for a great hook to work, you need to relate it to your thesis statement. The introduction must strike a balance between creativity and being informative. Read more about how to write an essay or ask for help from our experts.
Choosing An Essay Hook
Your choice of essay hook has a major impact on your essay’s impact on the reader. Whether your reader is your professor, your classmates, or a wider audience, it’s important to keep them interested from the start. There is no formula for choosing the “right” essay hook; most of the time the choice is instinctual. However, when making the choice, you would want to consider the following:
- The type of essay you’re writing. For instance, a narrative essay probably should not be introduced with a statistic. Instead, a quote or a statement would be most suitable for that type of essay.
- Your purpose. Some hooks are more commonly used in certain essays, and this is because they suit the purpose of the essay. Choose a hook that will lead you closer to your purpose.
- The audience. Naturally, you need to consider what will appeal to your target audience. If you are writing an academic paper to be read by your professor, you should choose one that would impress them.
The bottom line is to choose a hook for your essay that will help you set up your essay so you can successfully accomplish your goal—whether that is to inform, argue, persuade, or compare. As with all other aspects of writing, the ability to choose the best hook for your essays comes with practice. Start by observing how your favorite authors start their essays. As always, practice, practice, practice!
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Writing an essay that will entice a reader until the very last word is the main priority of a writer. You want your essay to be interesting enough that your professor will give you a high grade for it. Maintaining your reader’s interest, of course, involves the entire essay, but the majority of it starts at the first sentence—where most people decide whether they will enjoy a piece of work or not. This is why writing the introduction is so difficult.
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