Do you want people excited to read your essay?

Get your audience (classmates, professors etc.) interested in reading your essay by making the first part of your introduction intriguing. The best way to do that is by starting your essay with one of these 7 types of essay hooks:

  1. an interesting question
  2. a fact/statistic
  3. a strong statement
  4. a metaphor or simile
  5. a story
  6. a description
  7. a quotation

So, what is a hook?  It’s a piece of writing at the beginning of your essay that engages your reading audience.  Usually, a hook is a sentence or group of sentences that draws people into reading your essay or paper.  A hook sparks a person’s curiosity.  You want whoever reads your essay to wonder what happens next.

If you write an essay hook that makes your readers curious, you’ve taken the first step towards making them fall in love with your writing.

These writing hooks make readers want to find out what you will say in an essay or paper.

7 Types of Essay Hooks

7 Types of Essay Hooks

1.  The Interesting Question Hook

An interesting question hook is when you ask a question that relates to your essay or paper.  And the only way a person can know the answer to that question is by reading the essay.

People are inquisitive.  When we hear or read a question we want to know the answer.   If we don’t have an answer then we need to find out.  So, when you start your essay with an interesting question hook, this signals to your readers that if they keep reading you’ll give them the answer.

Here’s an example of an interesting question hook on the topic of succeeding in college:

What is the difference between successful college students and unsuccessful college students? 

The goal of this essay hook is to make you want to learn what students who succeed in college do, and what are college students who don’t succeed in college doing wrong.

2.  The Strong Statement Hook

A strong statement hook is a sentence that makes an assertive claim about your topic.   It connects to the thesis statement and shows the importance of your essay or paper.

A strong statement is a great technique because it doesn’t matter if your reader agrees or disagrees with your statement.  They will want to see how you support your statement.

This is an example of a strong statement for the topic of online college classes:

Online college classes are cheaper and more effective than in-person college classes.   

This statement either supports your point of view about online classes, or it makes you want to argue against it.  Either way, you are curious about what the writer says.

3.  The Fact or Statistic Hook

Facts and statistics hook your reader because they give real information about a topic.   You can impress your reader with your knowledge and evidence from the very beginning of your essay. But, you need to include facts that are accurate, interesting and reliable.  Evaluate your information and make sure it comes from a credible source.

Here’s an example of a factual hook about an essay on gun ownership in the United States.

Almost two-thirds of American adults at some point in their life lived in a home with at least one gun. 

The Pew Research Center, “America’s Relationship With Guns: An In-Depth Look at the Attitudes and Experiences of US Adults”  http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/06/22/americas-complex-relationship-with-guns/

4.  The Metaphor or Simile Hook

The metaphor/simile hook engages your readers because it makes them think about a topic in a different way.  Your audience wonders what you mean and how you compare a topic to something that seems unconnected.

A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly compares one thing to another, but these two things seem unrelated.  An example of a metaphor is: Her boyfriend is a rat.

The boyfriend is not really a rat, but he behaves like one.

A simile is like a metaphor.  Both compare two unrelated things to each other, but a simile uses the words like or as to connect them. A simile is less strong than a comparison in a metaphor. For example:  Writing a research paper is like running a marathon when it’s 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your essay topic is on business blogging you could write the metaphor hook:

A business blog is a magnet pulling clients to a company. 

Or the simile hook:

A business blog is like a magnet that pulls clients to a company.

5. The Story Hook

This is a hook where you begin with short story or episode that relates to your topic.

Readers love stories, especially a well-written story that is memorable.  The key to a great story hook is making sure the story directly connects to your essay or paper topic.

Your story can be personal or someone else’s story.

Here’s an example of a story hook for an essay about the differences between British and American English.   I used my own story about a trip to England.

I got off the train and pulled my luggage behind me.  A cab pulled up to the curb, and the driver got out.  He lifted my luggage and said, “Miss, I’m just going to put your stuff in the boot.”  I didn’t know what he meant until I saw him open the car’s trunk.  Then I realized the boot means car trunk.  I got in the cab, wondering how many other words would be different in England. 

You’ll see this story hook is longer than other types of essay hooks.   That’s okay.  Your hook can be longer, but it shouldn’t be a large part of your essay or paper.   Compare the length of your hook to the length of the essay.

Also, consider your audience (especially an academic audience).  Ask yourself, “Will a story hook be acceptable in this course?”  If you’re unsure you can ask your teacher or professor or you could select a different type of hook.

6.  The Description Hook

This is a hook where a vivid description of a scene draws your readers into your writing.  A good description hook will make your reader want to know what comes next in your writing.    It’s most popular in narrative essays, but you can use a description hook with any type of writing (yes even academic papers).   But, like the story hook ask yourself, “Will this description hook be acceptable in this course?”

Here’s an example of a description hook for a personal narrative essay about saving a dog:

The dog howled in pain and limped along the side of the road.  His leg was cut and blood streamed down his leg. 

Doesn’t this scene make you curious about what will happen to the dog?

7.  The Quotation Hook

This is a hook where you begin your essay with a quotation.  The quotation could be from a famous person, but it doesn’t have to be.  You can quote anyone if it connects to what you’re writing about.

If you write an essay about education you could begin with:

Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

If you want to use a quotation for a hook, make sure you quote the words exactly.  Choose quotations where the words are striking, powerful, and or memorable.

Writing Challenge:  Write 2 Types of Essay Hooks

Select your favorite 2 types of essay hooks.  Then write an essay hook for each kind you choose.  Share your essay hooks below, and let me know which is your favorite.

Have fun and be creative.  Essay hooks are a great way to intrigue all your readers.

Photo by Bram Naus on Unsplash