A hook sentence is a sentence that grabs your reader by the eyeballs and makes them yearn to read the rest of your essay. Ideally, that’s what a hook does – if it’s a good hook. If it’s not, you may have your reader yawning by the end of your first line.
A hook is kind of like an elevator pitch for your essay. You’re trying to express the essence of your topic to someone in 1-2 sentences. When the elevator dings, you’ve either sold your idea or you haven’t. So, how do you make sure your hook has the first effect, and not the second? Here are some tips for rocking your hook sentence:
First define your purpose. Don’t just jump right into the hook before you’ve even come up with a subject for your essay. A good hook is a product of careful thought and planning. In order to know how to draw your reader in, you have to know where you’re going to lead them first. Answer these questions before working on your hook:
- What is the purpose of your essay?
- How do you want your reader to feel about this subject?
- What’s the most important/interesting piece of information about this subject that you can share with your reader?
Techniques. Okay, after you’ve done some soul-searching about your topic, you’re ready to start working on the hook. Here are a few techniques for you to consider when crafting your hook:
Tell an anecdote- An anecdote is a story that illustrates an important point about your topic. An anecdote can help set the tone for your essay, as well as provide important information you want your reader to know. It may be even more effective if it’s a humorous anecdote- nothing like a good laugh to get someone’s attention.
Cite a statistic. This may seem like a boring way to draw your reader in but what if I told you that the world will run out of water by 2020? Got your attention, didn’t I? Of course, you want your statistic to be factual and credible, don’t just make something up. A shocking statistic can make people sit up and pay attention. Use the research of scientists and focus groups to show your reader how important your topic is to them.
Quote someone. Sometimes, a quote is the most effective way to go. If you’re writing about apartheid in South Africa, a quote by Nelson Mandela would be a perfect way for you to get your reader’s interest. No doubt Mandela was an expert on the subject, and became a symbol of the struggle to end it.
Pose a question- A question begs an answer. Starting with a question is a great way to engage your reader. They’ll mentally give an answer to your question and then want to read on to see the answer you came up with and whether or not they agree.
Edit your hook. You don’t have a lot of words to spare when writing a hook. It shouldn’t take an entire paragraph, just 1-2 lines. You want to make sure that your words pack a punch, not fizzle out as you ramble. If you’re using an anecdote, make sure you get to the point fast. Don’t drag the story out with unnecessary information. If you’re using a statistic, you run the risk of sounding overly academic or scientific. Use plain language and make the essential information as easy to read as possible. Sometimes the key line of a quote is part of a longer speech or text. If that’s the case, don’t quote the entire paragraph, choose only the part that’s most striking. If you’re posing a question, make sure the question is easy to understand.
Learning to nail the hook is a great skill that will serve you throughout your academic and professional life. Good luck and happy writing!