When writing an essay, an essential element is to get your reader’s attention. You might have a very compelling argument in the meat of your paper, but it will all go to waste if your reader is not motivated to go beyond the first paragraph or two.
As all good writers know, if you want your reader to be primed and ready for the main content of what you want to say, you need to grab their attention, like using a hook to reel in a fish. This is most often done at the beginning of the essay, allowing them to keep reading.
Hook techniques to use
The following are some techniques to help you catch your reader’s interest.
- The strong statement
One reason why news outlets use controversial headlines is that it arouses people’s curiosity. After reading it, they want to know if it is right or if the writer will be proved wrong.
Similarly, a writer can get their audience to read more if there is a strong statement that stirs them up. For example, statements like “Video games create criminals out of children” or “Candy kills more people than car accidents” can cause readers to continue for a few more paragraphs to see where your essay is headed.
- Striking statistics
Another method is to use striking data as some people are drawn more to facts than sensational statements. Depending on the issue, this can be data about how few or how many people are affected by the problem you are writing about. If the source is a well-respected one and the statistic is quite recent, readers will want to discover more about what is happening in what you have written.
- The interesting question
The use of a thought-provoking question is another way to get people interested in what you are writing. Such questions are often controversial, similar to how the strong statement (#1) is made. But unlike the strong statement where the point-of-view is already given, the interesting question is still hanging. The reader must journey forward into your paper to discover the answer.
- The story
Some readers are drawn in through stories. Stories make the situation seem more alive, even if the story is not always real. By introducing the issue of your essay through a story, the reader is somehow given the context of what your paper will be about, making it easier for the person to understand.
- Using a simile or metaphor
One more way to catch your reader’s attention is by using similes or metaphors to make your topic easier to understand. In a sense, it is similar to the story (#4) as it may connect images in the mind of the reader. The difference is that this “hook” will be much shorter. Here is an example: A well-developed hook for an essay is like a short movie trailer. It excites the person to want to know more about what you have created.
Whether you are making a reaction essay or an analytical essay, it is important to draw your reader in with a good “hook.” Hopefully, you will be able to make use of the options above for your next paper in class.