How to Write the Hook for an Essay

Updated on November 18, 2018
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Anne is a teacher and freelancer who enjoys helping people succeed with writing. She has helped many young people improve their writing.

How to Write the Hook for an Essay

A hook is a couple of sentences at the beginning of your essay that draws your reader in to the topic you are discussing. Hooks should be engaging and descriptive so as to catch the reader’s attention.

There are many different ways to write a hook. It all depends on the type of essay you are writing, and what kind of hook you feel you are most comfortable writing. For instance, sometimes a statistic is a good way to start a research paper, especially if you have lots of evidence to back up your argument in your essay. In a persuasive essay, you might be more comfortable with starting your essay with a rhetorical question, getting the reader to really think deeply about the topic before telling them about your position on the issue. If you are writing a narrative essay, it might be best ot start with a personal anecdote that is connected to your story. Whatever hook you choose, make sure that it is something that is best suited for the type of essay you will be writing.

Below is an outline of the different types of hooks, where you can use them, and how to write one. Use this guide as a basis for how you will write your hook in your own essay.

Writing Hooks

Writing the hook for an essay can be one of the most difficult parts of the writing process.
Writing the hook for an essay can be one of the most difficult parts of the writing process.

"A hook is a couple of sentences at the beginning of your essay that draws your reader in to the topic you are discussing. Hooks should be engaging and descriptive so as to catch the reader’s attention."

#1: Question

If you are writing a persuasive essay, including a rhetorical question at the beginning will get readers interested and thinking about your topic. Here is an example:

Shouldn’t everyone have the same, equal rights?

A rhetorical question at the beginning of an essay is a chance for your to really delve into your topic and to give readers the opportunity to see things from your perspective.


"Oftentimes, if we do a little brainstorming, we can find a way to connect ideas and themes in our essays that will give it a hook worth reading."

#2: Quotation

Sometimes, you might want to start an essay off with a quotation that perfectly describes your topic or relates to your topic in some way. Here is an example of how you could introduce your essay with a quote:

Helen Keller once said: “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” In our lives, confidence is very important; it helps us become successful in all we seek to do in our lives.

Notice that after the quote, there is also an explanation of how the quote connects or relates to the topic of the paper. If this paper was about how to achieve success or how confidence helps build success, that last sentence would be a good segway into the thesis statement.


Inverted Pyramid Format

Your introduction paragraph should follow the inverted pyramid format, moving from general to specific information. The hook is the first part of the introduction.
Your introduction paragraph should follow the inverted pyramid format, moving from general to specific information. The hook is the first part of the introduction.

"A statistic or fact is usually used in research papers."

#3: Statistic/Fact

A statistic or fact is usually used in research papers. Sometimes pointing out that fact or statistic, if you choose a good one, will surprised your reader, and they will want to read more. Check out the following example:

It only takes seven pounds of pressure to rip your ear off. One can only imagine the pain that Van Gogh endured to send his ear off to his girlfriend as an expression of love. Even so, the artist has left an impression; an impact on all of us far greater than the loss of his ear.

This hook is quite strange. However, the fact at the beginning does draw readers in to the topic. The writer could then go forward and continue writing their research paper on Vincent Van Gogh.


A Hook Should Be...

A hook should be engaging, surprising, and interesting to your readers. You want to draw their attention to your topic and have them wanting to read more.
A hook should be engaging, surprising, and interesting to your readers. You want to draw their attention to your topic and have them wanting to read more.

#4: Anecdotal

Anecdotal hooks can be great for narrative essays or essays that ask for a more personal response from the writer. Usually, an anecdote is a small story placed at the beginning of the story that might have some deep meaning or connection with the rest of the essay. Here is an example:

Every Christmas, my family and I used to hide a pickle in the Christmas tree. This was a tradition passed down through our family for generations. I remember every Christmas morning when I would hurry excitedly down the stairs, brushing through the tree to find that pickle. In our family, it was a sign of good luck. I later found out that this was a German tradition, which is was led me to look more into my family’s ancestry.

Here, the author is describing a Christmas memory, connecting it to a paper that delves into their research into their family ancestry. Anecdotal hooks can really be used for any types of papers, and often readers are drawn to these descriptive scenes because it paints a picture in their heads of what is going on.


#5: Definition

When you are writing an essay that has a lot of dry, cold facts, you may want to consider using a definition at the beginning of your essay. Especially for those research essays related to the sciences, this type of format works very well. However, definition hooks can be used in all kinds of essays. Here is an example:

Love is defined as “an intense feeling of deep affection.” In William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, the two young lovers believe that they were meant to be. However, their deep affection leads to their own deaths in the end.

Here, a definition is used to explain the basic plot line of a Shakespeare play. In any sense, scientific, technical, or other, definition hooks can help you and your reader make and build connections between themes and your topic.


Conclusion

The most challenging part of writing an essay is coming up with a strong hook. Oftentimes, if we do a little brainstorming, we can find a way to connect ideas and themes in our essays that will give it a hook worth reading. The five different types of hooks listed above should help guide you through this process, and hopefully come up with a strong hook that makes your readers want to read more.

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