How to Write a Good Hook for Your Essay
Last updated: July 2019
“You have to make choices even when there is nothing to choose from.”
― Péter Zilahy
And you have to find a perfect hook for your essay even when you don’t know what to write.
Strategies for writing an essay hook:
- Use literary quotes.
- Write a quote from a famous person.
- Surprise with a misconception.
- Write an anecdote.
- Tell a personal story.
- Use statistical data.
- Ask a question.
- Share a fact or a definition.
- “Draw” a scene.
- Start with a thesis statement.
The #1 prejudice most students have on essay writing: it’s time-consuming, difficult, and bo-o-oring.
When teachers ask you to write an essay, they don’t want to ban your creativity. An essay shouldn’t be boring or too formal but make readers want to check its every word. And your task is grabbing and keeping their attention throughout your writing.
An essay hook is that particular instrument you need to meet this challenge.
What is an Essay Hook?
“An essay hook is 1-2 opening sentences of your paper. They serve to capture readers’ attention and help them decide if they want to continue reading your text.
We call it a “hook” because it reminds a shiny lure that fishermen use to catch a fish. And, depending on the fish they want to catch, they will use different hooks.
Do not confuse hooks with introductions! An essay hook opens your introduction rather than substitutes it. Once you’ve hooked readers, be sure to introduce your essay topic and thesis.
- A hook. Write a strong opening sentence capturing readers’ attention.
- A topic. Tell readers about the focus of your essay.
- A thesis. State your opinion on the topic.
Essays and college papers are not alone in hooks. Fiction writers, copywriters, bloggers, screenwriters, and other men of letters use this instrument to gain our interest and influence our decisions. Did you hear about David Ogilvy and his timeless lessons to writing and standing out? He’s a true genius of hooks and persuasion!
Essay hooks can be difficult to generate, especially if you are still in the process of thesis clarification. The first step toward writing an eye-catching opening for your essay would be answers to these questions:
- What is the type of your essay?
- What writing style and tone do you need to use?
- Who is your intended audience?
- What text structure do you need to establish?
A PRO TIP: Write a hook and introduction after you’ve finished the whole essay. It will help to clarify a thesis and understand what type of hooks would fit your work better.
To get a better idea of what a terrific introduction looks like, watch the video tutorial from James, who defines essay hooks as grabbers.
Essay Hooks Ideas
So, what types of opening lines can you use as a good hook for an essay?
1) Literary Quotes
This type of hooks works for essays about writers, literature phenomena, books, and essay makers. Start your essay with a quote from books you review, and it will establish your authority as a writer.
2) Quotes From Famous People
To support your argument and create a lip-smacking hook for your essay, start it with a quote from famous people. But make sure it’s relevant to your topic and thesis.
That’s all well and fine but…
Some teachers consider this type of essay hooks too general and overused when you write my term paper. They discourage college papers started or finished with words of influencers, not students themselves. So, if you decide to use such a hook, find a rare yet relevant quote. Don’t copy-paste the first available saying from top quotations websites.
3) Common Misconception
You may start your introduction with a statement about a commonly accepted truth being false. That will intrigue your audience and encourage them to keep on reading.
- “Most Americans mistakenly believe that all rice is essentially the same.”
- “Most coffee addicts would tell you their favorite drink comes from a bean, but they are wrong. Coffee is made from a seed called a bean.”
“An anecdote is a little story designed to illustrate a point you are trying to make.
This hook is appropriate to use if you write narrative or descriptive essays. Don’t be afraid of writing funny openings, as it doesn’t mean your essay has to be humorous too. A little humor helps to grab readers’ attention and spark their interest in the topic.
Your anecdote should be short and to the point. Make sure it relates to the main idea of your essay.
Remember that most essay assignments don’t allow to write from the first person. Be sure to check the requirements before using “I” in your writing.
5) Personal Stories
This hook is perfect for personal narratives or college application essays, though you would hardly use it for argumentative or too formal persuasive papers. Ask your professor if you can use personal pronouns in your writing, and hook readers with a personal story which not necessarily should be yours.
You can tell the story of your friend, relative, or president. Why not, after all?
But please, don’t start your essay with a hook like “I was thinking about what to write for this essay and came up with this.”
Teachers hate it! Sure, this hook is better than no hook at all, but it will never distinguish your work from the crowd.
Use statistical data to hook readers with new facts they might not have been known. Be sure to include the source.
- “People lie in 1 out of 5 conversations lasting more than 10 minutes, according to Allison Komet from the Psychology Today magazine.”
- “70% of all jobs found today were got through different networking strategies.”
- “Fifty percent of marriages end up in divorce.”
- “The average iceberg weighs over 100,000 metric tons.”
Do research to find data on your topic. Refer to sources your teacher would consider reliable.
This type of hooks can help you create a reader’s personal interest in your essay and wish to continue reading it. But don’t make your question too general.
Let’s say you write an essay about smartphones. Asking a question a la “Do you have a smartphone?” will hardly grab readers’ attention because it doesn’t engage them in critical thinking.
So, try to avoid questions expecting simple Yes or No answers.
Rhetorical questions could be a good idea for essay hooks.
As well as quotes from famous people, they are easy to create and, therefore, overused too. You’ll need to wind up your brain to impress a reader and make that question catchy.
This hook can surprise a reader with something they might not have known. Interesting facts about what you are going to discuss in your essay will intrigue your audience and make them want to learn more.
- “Spain, though hardly a literary juggernaut, translates more books in one year than the entire Arab world has in the past one thousand years.”
- “Amiable is the best way to describe Elizabeth’s personality: she was friendly and caring.”
Be careful with definitions! Your professor will hardly like your essay opening if you copy it from a dictionary. So, if you decide to start an essay with a definition related to your topic, avoid something like this:
- “Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘truth’ as ‘the state of being the case; factual; the body of real things, events, and facts’.”
A bold pronouncement, outrageous statement, or exaggeration will help you hook readers, too.
- “If you say you’ve never told a lie, then you’re lying.”
- “Cigarettes are the primary cause of cancer.”
- “If the government cuts any more money from education, the entire country will crumble.”
People are visually-oriented. Depending on the type and length of your essay, “draw” a scene in your hook to help readers “see” a clear picture in mind.
Decide on a scene that would appeal to senses and set the mood for your essay.
10) Thesis Statement
There is no harm in getting right to the point. Start with your argument and support your point of view throughout the essay. If you have an interesting take on a subject, readers will want to see where you came up with your idea.
- “It is time to reveal the truth about Thanksgiving, and the truth is that Thanksgiving is not such a terrific holiday…”
- “Humans need to invest more time and money into space exploration because Earth is on a certain path to destruction.”
So many hooks, so many essays. The logical question appears: how do you know what type of openings in the introduction would fit your paper best?
Well, you might ask our writers to help you or continue reading this post to get more tips on writing hooks for your essay.
How to Choose a Good Hook for Your Essay
With so many types of essay hooks, you wonder how to choose the right one for your particular paper. The problem is, there’s no single formula here. To know what hook to consider, keep in mind the following:
- Your audience
- Your essay type
Depending on who reads your essay, one and the same message will speak in different ways to them.
It’s clear that a hook you use to attract a college girl would hardly help you spark the interest of a college admission counselor. So, the first question to answer before going on the writing road is:
- Who is my audience? Whom do I want to target with my essay?
Then, try to figure out what matters to your readers and what they expect to get from the essay.
- Do they read it to solve a problem?
- Do they want to learn interesting facts about you?
- Do they need distinctive information on the topic?
- Do they want to see that you understand a subject?
Once you’ve nailed it down, you’ll know what types of hooks will work for this particular writing.
The type of hooks that would fit your paper best depends on the essay type, either.
For example, anecdotes don’t work for writing a critical précis, but they would catch readers of dialectic essays. Quotes and questions are perfect hooks for novel critiques or persuasive essays, while facts or statistics fit argumentative essays best.
Don’t start your essay with a great hook simply because it’s great. It should be relevant to your topic, thesis, and purpose of your paper.
Questions to answer before choosing an essay hook:
- How do I want my readers to feel?
- What do I want my readers to learn?
Depending on feelings you want to evoke, an essay hook may be some shocking statistics, a romantic personal story, a funny anecdote, a motivational quote, etc.
Depending on the purpose of your writing, make an essay hook reflect it. Common misconceptions or outrageous statements may encourage readers to learn something new, while catchy questions would engage in critical thinking or motivate.
Essays are many. Narrative, persuasive, argumentative, or descriptive – they all need hooks, aka grabbers to attract readers to your writing. These grabbers are many, either. To choose the best one for your paper, consider a type of your essay, its audience, and their needs.
No matter how strong they are, hooks alone can’t guarantee A+ grades for your writing assignments. State a thesis, organize research on the topic, and outline your essay before choosing a grabber for it. Opening lines lead the way of your papers and make them worth reading.
69 thoughts on “How to Write a Good Hook for Your Essay”
This article has helped me a lot understanding how to write an attractive HOOK !
Thanks a lot for this good methods 🙂
This helped a lot! I was sitting trying to think of a hook for 2 hours until I found this.
Yeah, me too I WAS! stuck on thinking for a hook until I found this website!
Thanks for this website its is now going to be easy for me to write this down.
The book Im going to make a hook on is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
I could’t see what it was then i saw and it was awsome
ya this helped me too. im just burned out since i basically write a essay every week since school started over online.
A good hook doesn’t use you. You need to stay in 3rd person instead of trying to tell a reader what to do and yes or no questions are to easy for readers. They can easy shy away from your essay. Just a few up to date tips
Now that depends on the type of essay you write. I’m currently writing one and “you” and “I” are big factors and elements in this. To hook a reader, personally, I think that facts won’t do the trick. You need to show them what you think and thats what the supporting paragraphs are for.
Don’t say i think, i believe, or anything that basically begins with i. saying that makes you sound not decided on your topic.
I think your website is ok but you didn’t really explain how to create a good hook step by step.
You are wrong
It is perfect.
helped a lot espaicially for descibtive essays as the example of facts or deffiniton
I don’t start my essays with a question because some teachers think it is a childish way of beginning an essay, but definitions often make a great hook. Just make sure to cite where you got the definition.
This was extremely helpful, not only for my current essay but also for future references
Thanks this helps me a lot for my English final!
i love it
This was actually really helpful for my essay at school.
So I found this as good information but I am going in to Honors 9 English this following year and I have certain requirements for this essay. I am not allowed to use a question or quote for my introduction. I think that maybe you could go more in depth with the steps. I think that these were some really good ideas and techniques. Thank you for the information.
IT IS VERY USEFUL TO ALL THE STUDENTS who are going to sit for sp or tp3 exams ..Tq …
Part of the question hook was wrong. You can not ask the reader a question directly, for they can not answer it. This weakens an otherwise strong hook. For example, if you state “have you ever wondered, whether Anna Karenina still loved Alexei if she hadn’t decided to commit a suicide” you should say “would Anna Karenina still love Alexei if she hadn’t decided to commit a suicide” instead.
?s like that are rhetorical
I disagree with the Grammar Soldier that one cannot ask the reader a direct question in a hook. A rhetorical question is one way to get the reader’s attention if it is posed well. It works because it draws the reader into becoming an interactive participant. Rhetorical questions are recognized as being useful, especially in the art of persuasive speaking and writing.
My teacher told me to write a hook with an anecdote but I have no idea on what to write. The topic is What makes an individual powerful?
Well summarised article on hooks, but cheated by using a drawing as a hook. Just felt the need to put it out there. No offence intended
This is a fantastic article! Even though I do not agree with some of the ways to start an essay, this made me think of some great hooks!
You didn’t really explain how to write a hook step by step, you only gave examples. But it’s still helped me a lot, so it’s ok.
This has been a great help! I was stuck on what were writing hooks because our teachers never really mentioned it yet until now! I could have made better essays if i had known earlier. 😉
this really helped to write a good hook for my essay thank you for the examples
This Helped A Lot, Thanks!
it would be super helpful if you made a post similar to this for CONCLUSIONS! I’m always stuck on conclusion hooks since in our essays we aren’t allowed to use 1st person
This will help a lot for my scholarship application.!!!!!!!!!
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There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content.
Please let me know. Many thanks
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I have also stuck in this kind of situation but thanks to your service it became much easier!
Thank you so much! It really helped for my essay!
Thank you so much!!! I sat on my couch for 3 days trying to think of a hook.
THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH!!!!
I was so stuck thanks to this website… I had best essay in class, and I don’t know what I would of done without this website.
It was helpful…thanks for what you wrote.
This helped a lot I was thinking of a hook for 2 hours
I have to write about two pages for creative writing. Do you have any ideas that I could use, or a topic for by paper? Thank you!.
It’s really important to grab attention of the reader and it can be achieved only first few sentences. If first sentences didn’t interest the reader, he won’t read the essay till the end.
What if I’m writing about medicine, IT or engineering paper? Will these essay tricks also apply?
This really answered my problem, thank you!
Hello, I read your blog on a regular basis. Your story-telling style is witty, keep doing what you’re doing!
First of all I would like to say terrific blog!I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing.
I have had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts ouut there. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Many thanks!
Thanks for publishing this awesome article. I’m a long time reader but I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment. I subscribed to your blog and shared this on my Facebook.
Thanks again for a great article!
This helped a lot, I spent a very long time thinking on how to start my essay before I saw this! Like some others, my teachers do not approve of using a question to start writing pieces because it seems too childish. Other than that, I think this article was great!
I am not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic.
I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
Thanks for fantastic info I was looking for.
You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!
This site was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something which helped me.
When someone writes an article he/she maintains the thought of a user in his/her brain that how a user can understand it. Thus that’s why this piece of writing is amazing. Thanks!
thanks for sharing this information..have shared this link with others keep posting!
Does a hook have to be one or two sentences or can it be like three or four.
I’d recommend keeping it short. Three or four sentences – it’s a kinda half of your essay introduction already 🙂
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Is it right for a writer to use second person in a hook?
I was told by my high school teacher that I was wrong because I used a hook in my essay that had “you” and “your”. I am skeptical of this because I had previously learned otherwise.
Hi Cat, and thanks for the question!
So many teachers, so many rules 🙂 Seriously though, there are some guidelines on the web saying you can’t use ‘you’ and ‘your’ in essays, because it’s not okay to address a reader in formal writing to avoid confusion. However, it all depends on what type of essay you write:
– a personal essay: sure, you can you ‘you’ and ‘I’
– persuasive or narrative essay: ‘you’ is still okay, though you can try to avoid it, if necessary
– reviews, research, precis, and other TOO FORMAL academic writings: you better don’t use the second person.
How to omit ‘you’? Just don’t write it or use ‘one’ instead. Examples:
– “Don’t text while you drive,” vs. “Don’t text and drive.”
– “You shouldn’t disrespect the rules,” vs. “One shouldn’t disrespect the rules.”
thank you for the information it was a huge help
I really think this was some good hook ideas, but you didn’t go in-depth on how to think of one. I believe if you included some advice on how to start one, it would’ve increased the article’s ‘ego’ drastically. Thank you for the info anyway!
This article really helped me to better understand the purpose of a hook and what to do when in distress. I sat for an entire class period trying to find my hook. Thanks so much!
I like this a lot! It helps me as a student. I do suggest this to others!
I’ve searched so many sites to find how to write a hook, and non of them gave real legit examples. Thank you!
Thank you for this! I can use these tips to my blog content. Great stuff!
Good post, Thanks for sharing the information with us.
Thanks for such an interesting blog! The content is extremely good and useful for me. Please keep posting, I’ll definitely share with my friends. 🙂
Any plans to update this with new examples or any additional hooks? The post is super but I’d like to see more recent examples
Thanks for your comment! We’re working on the guide to writing hooks for informative essays right now. There will be tons of examples and practical tips. It will go live this month.