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Essay Hook

Teacher/Instructor Katie Aquino
Katie Aquino

Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University

Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.

When writing an essay, the hook is a connection to the real word that gets the readers interested in reading the rest of the essay. Essay hooks can either tell or recount a story, give an interesting statistic, provide a relevant quote or give a real world connection. When writing an essay hook, it's important to use definitions sparingly and to weave quotations in to interest the reader.

Let's talk essay hooks. Now I know these can sometimes be the toughest part of the paper and it really stinks because, they come first. But I want to talk about some ideas you can have for developing interesting hooks. So essentially what you need to remember about the hook to an essay or an attention grabber is that, its job is to connect your paper to the real world. So when a reader picks it up, they're actually interested and see that there's some sort of connection or reason for them to read the paper.
So here are some ideas for how to start, that are pretty effective. So you can start by telling a story or painting a picture. When I think of hooks I tend to think of the beginnings of movies, and what movies I'm really interested in. And a lot of times it's because they hook in by telling me a story or they have a beautiful scenery that they paint. Given interesting or shocking statistic, that really works if it's something that I'm surprised by, I'm more likely to pay attention. Provide a relevant quote one thing you need to be careful with, with those relevant famous quotes, is make sure that they're not standing on their own. Make sure you come up with a creative way to weave them into your own writing or come up with an analogy or some sort of real world connection. Maybe you're writing a history paper about the French Revolution, you could maybe refer to some of the revolutions going on, or that went on in Egypt just recently, alright? So make those connections.
Couple of pointers or tricks, avoid yes/no questions. So questions are definitely a way to start the paper, I tend to avoid them because if you start with something like, "Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a farmer?" I'm reading that paper and I'm automatically disinterested. So you've got a fifty-fifty shot of totally losing your audience with the yes/no question, alright. Use definitions sparingly. So using a dictionary definition is definitely a way to start but it's considered a little bit cliche, so unless you're doing something creative with it, I would go ahead and avoid that as a starter. And then, like I said, make sure if you choose a famous quote to use, weave it into your writing.
So let's take a look at a couple examples of different hooks and see how they work. So we've got this first one, "Think about the world you live in. Think about your neighborhood and your neighbors. Is your neighborhood safe? Well, most people believe they are. According to the FBI it was estimated that 15,517 people, were murdered in the year 2000," alright? I like this 'cause it uses a lot of different objectives here. So here we have, 'think about the world you live in, think about your neighborhood and your neighbors' that's essentially painting a picture, asking the reader to really get that. And then they ask him a question, "Is your neighborhood safe?" and that's something that would really think about. Even though it's yes/no, I've got a lot of things to think about there.
And then they hit you with this shocking statistic, right "15,000 people murdered." So this is a good job of employing a lot of different ways of hooking a reader in. Then we've got John Steinbeck once said that we have only one story, the never ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. So I like this because, it's a quote. If they're writing about good or evil, obviously it connects clearly to it, but I also like that it's clearly woven into the writing. So it's not just an abrupt quote that's dropped in there.
And then finally let's look at this, "When I was younger, I remember watching a Twilight Zone episode called 'Button Button.' How awful I felt it must have been for the characters to have to choose whether or not to press the button. They could save themselves or save somebody else. I hadn't however thought about that story in years until I read John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men'" So I like this because, it employs the use of first person pronouns and I know sometimes we train students away from using that, but in a hook when you're telling a story, it's completely appropriate.
So it pulls that in, it tells a story about another story. So it makes a connection and some people may be familiar with this episode, so it really draws them into the story and then gives them a connection to 'Of Mice and Men.' So we've got the connection of pieces of literature that might get people interested. So those are three effective hooks and hopefully that will help you, when you're creating yours.