“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” wrote Charles Dickens in his “A Tale of Two Cities.” This sentence, with its riddle-like structure that both challenges and enthralls the reader, is often used to define the hook sentence concept. As the name implies, a hook sentence “hooks” the reader from the get-go and keeps him actively engaged with the words on the page. Getting the reader’s attention early on in your essay is paramount to keeping his attention going so that he’ll actually want to read the rest of your work. The good news is that you don’t need Dickensian aspirations to come up with a killer hook sentence for a simple essay. Let’s look at how you can sell your reader on what your essay has to offer.
Identify the Audience for Your Paper
If you’re writing an essay, you likely are writing to please one person only – your instructor, teacher, or professor. In this case, your audience is clearly defined, and the hook sentence that you write for this type of essay may be completely different from the hook you might come up with if you were writing an essay to share in the school paper with your friends. The audience determines the message that you portray in your hook sentence; it should speak directly to the audience, and the audience should be able to easily relate to what you say on its own level.
Figure Out What Matters to Your Audience
It can also help to determine what matters to your audience. Your professor is looking for specific information; likely this means that you should demonstrate knowledge of the subject being discussed. The professor may also be looking for mastery of APA or MLA style elements. By contrast, if you’re writing an opinion piece for the newspaper, then write with an eye to appealing to like-minded readers with whom you share a common concern.
Effective Hook Sentences
There is no formula for creating a hook sentence, so let your creativity and a few proven strategies guide you. Consider these examples:
- Give advice. “If you want to have friends, you have to be a friend first.”
- Provide an anecdote. Use a short or unbelievable factoid or story about an incident or person to get the reader’s attention. “Mariah Carey lives in an apartment worth millions of dollars, but her sister is homeless.”
- Make a bold statement. “Before long, doctors will be able to print new kidneys using 3D printing systems.”
- State a contradiction. “Donald Trump claims he can balance the national budget, but he’s filed bankruptcy several times.”
- Define something as your hook. “Agoraphobics are people who do not go out of their homes for extended periods of time; some haven’t been shopping in years.”
- Present the reader with a dilemma. “Enforcing immigration laws keeps terrorists out of the country, but it also breaks up families and destroys lives.”
- Go for a quote. “We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for, I don’t know” – W. H. Auden.
- Open with humor. “I am not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
- Ask the reader a rhetorical question. “What does it really mean to be bored?”
- Share a statistic or factoid. “As many as 80 percent of students report cramming for finals the night before.”
- Share a personal tidbit. “When I was growing up, there was no Internet, so kids looked up information in encyclopedias.”
Ultimately, the hook sentence you choose should be one that sparks interest and that is directly relatable to what you plan to write and the style you choose for your essay. A good hook can make or break your essay, so put a little elbow grease into crafting yours to make your essay shine.
So begins the superbly-written The Falling Man by Tom Junod, an essay about the search for the identity of the man in the famous 9/11 photo by Richard Drew. Notice how you are drawn into the piece right from the very first sentence. This method of writing is called a hook. Here are some points to consider when creating hooks for essays with differing themes.
The trick to writing hooks for essays about change is to make your reader THINK. “I saw my teacher and five of my classmates gunned down this morning. They would probably be alive if our state had better laws” could be a good hook for a piece about gun control.
Remember, hooks for essays about change should be brave to challenge the status quo and set your reader thinking.
Use hooks for essays about death that are personal and allow the reader to relate. Death is a personal issue and most of your readers would have encountered it in one way or another.
An example could be: “brother died this morning. He was only a week old”. Craft hooks for essays about death that talk directly to your audience and allow them to see your pain so they will read on how you overcame it.
Writing about love can be quite tricky. Use hooks for essays about love that give a fresh perspective. An example could be: “Her parents told her she could be anything she wanted—so she decided to love another woman”. It would be a good idea to read up on your topic so you don’t create hooks for essays about love that look copied from a Stephenie Meyer novel.
Having trouble getting started on your literary masterpiece? Here’s a sampling of five types of hooks for essays that you can use.
Types of Hooks for Essays
An essay hook is a writing device that is meant to catch the reader’s attention. It basically works like a fish hook, trapping the hapless catch and slowly reeling it in. Coming up with an exceptional essay hook comes with practice, but there can be times that you just can’t seem to pull it off. Here are some types of hooks for essays you can use for such emergencies:
- The Anecdote
People love a good story, and an anecdote can be a good way to catch your readers’ attention. It doesn’t have to be a funny one (although a joke can sometimes be used to make an essential point). Tell an experience and use it to kick off your essay’s main thesis.
- The Quote
Recite a line spoken by a famous person, or from a book, or from a movie. Quotes are useful for kick-starting meaningful discussions. However, it would be a wise idea to steer clear of oft-repeated quotations, such as “Ask not…” You know the rest.
- The Scene
Describe a hypothetical or an actual scene to your reader and put them right into the issue. Scenic visualization allows for a more personal experience for the reader that can make it easier for you to get your point across. Just don’t overdo the details, though.
- The Fact
State something relevant for your readers to chew on. Give them a piece of information that will cause them to relate to the thesis of your essay.
- The Question
This method often presents a rhetorical question where you’re making a point, not looking for answers. Use this hook only if asking the question is the best way to get your point across.
However, when all else fails, there are also tricks that can help you get out of the rut, like coming up with a hooks for essays list. You can also try using a hooks for essays generator.
Compile excellent essays you can get inspiration from to compose your own hooks for essays list. Study how they are effective in getting their message across; just make sure you don’t copy them into your work.
Likewise, a generator can provide you with ideas to jumpstart your essay writing. A quick online search can lead you to several sites, so it is important that you get a reliable hooks for essays generator that won’t give you plagiarized work.
Convincing your reader doesn’t mean beating them black and blue. Here’s how to do it, starting with a good Hook for an Argumentative Essay.
An essay can be used to present an argument with the aim of convincing the audience to take a stand on a particular issue. This type of writing is called the persuasive or argumentative essay.
The secret to a superb and convincing piece is to start off with an excellent hook for a persuasive speech. You have to capture your audience with your stated position right from the start. Creating the hook for an argumentative essay involves clarifying where you stand on your specific issue.
Here’s how to write a hook for a Persuasive Essay:
- Present a Relevant Fact or Anecdote
Information, especially facts that your audience can relate to on a personal level, can be used to make an effective hook for argumentative essay. Look for information or stories that grab your reader’s attention and cause them to stay for the complete presentation of your argument.
A good hook for a persuasive speech can go this way: The odds of an American dying in a plane crash are about one in 11 million. It just so happened that my father was that one in 11 million, because he rode on an airplane piloted by an overworked captain flying beyond the prescribed hours.
- Present a Rhetorical Question
Your hook sentence for a persuasive essay can also be in the form of a question, specifically a rhetorical one where you are seeking to make a point instead of finding an answer. Questions tend to jolt the audience, so be sure to capitalize on their initial reactions to keep their attention focused on your argument.
Your question hook for argumentative essay could probably look like this: According to statistics, the survival rate for plane crashes is at 97.5 percent. How come my father didn’t make it out alive of the ill-fated Flight XY13?
Learning how to create a hook for an argumentative essay involves practice. A good hook sentence for a persuasive essay lays the foundation for you to persuade your reader to support your stance.
However, it’s not enough learning how to write a hook for a persuasive essay. You also need to learn to support your argument with reasonable points substantiated with facts. It would therefore be helpful to read up on a wide variety of subjects so that practicing how to create a hook for an argumentative essay will be easier for you in the long run.