How to Write a Good Hook for Your Essay

How to Write a Good Hook for Your Essay

A hook in literary terms is something that brings the reader in and creates interest. It makes the reader give the piece of work a chance. It helps the reader decide if he or she is going to read the entire thing. It helps the reader see the quality of the work, and it peaks the reader’s curiosity. If you have a good hook, then it is more likely that your essay will be read. It is also more likely that your professor will pay more attention to your homework and therefore rank your work higher.

“You have to make choices even when there is nothing to choose from.”

Péter Zilahy

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Does your assignment need a hook? It doesn’t matter if you “try” to insert a hook because it is going to happen anyway. Unless your introduction is a vague string of sentences, then your essay will have a hook. The hook may be the hypothesis or a statement you make in the introduction. Your job is to make your hook a good one. If you have to have one, then why not make it a good one? Why waste an opportunity to surprise your professor so hard that you knock your professor’s eyebrows off.

Why do hooks exist?

Part of the reason is because they are constructed by authors to make their work attention grabbing. They want people to read their work, but most people will read the beginning bit and then abandon it. The author wants people to read the beginning bit and then keep reading, so the author creates a good hook.

Another reason that hooks exist is because it is human nature to read a meaning into something. If your introduction gives a clear indication of what your essay is about, then that is a hook for anybody interested in your work. If you do not offer a good explanation of what your essay is about, then there is not really a hook for anybody. But, if your topic is of interest to somebody, then your accurate introduction will become your hook.


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College essay hooks may be not easy to find, especially when you do not have a clear picture of your essay yet.

Do you have any ideas of what your perfect essay hook should look like?

What would interest you? Get into the mind of your reader and think about what he or she would enjoy and what would peak his or her interest. Look at the hooks that other essays have in your subject area. What was the last essay you read? What made you interested in that essay? What was it about that essay that kept you reading? What stopped you from moving on and reading another piece of work?

Essay hooks ideas

A literary quote

There are plenty of times when people include literary quotes as part of their hook. There is actually a big trend towards literary quotes. They are annoying and professors have read the same ones hundreds of times, but they show an attempt to create a hook and therefore an attempt to create an engaging essay, so professors are forced to mark people up for it.

Example:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Nick Carraway

It may be used as a quote that starts an essay about perseverance or about going on with a project even after it large setbacks.

Quotes of famous people

It doesn’t even have to be a famous person’s original quote; it can be something they said in a movie. It may not have anything to do with your essay, but it shows you attempted to make the essay engaging and so will still help you get a higher grade.

Example:

“Guilt, what is guilt? Guilt is a bag of bricks, and all you have to do is set it down.”

Al Pacino, Devil's Advocate Movie

It could be used in an essay about human limitations and how we all impose our own version of right and wrong, and how we have the choice over which emotions and rules we follow and which control us.

Anecdote

They may be one of the best ways of getting points across. Stating things as facts is fine, and giving evidence is okay, but people tend to react better and more positively when there is an anecdote. It is better if people hear a point laid out as a story. That is why Jesus did so well up until 2004, it is because if you take people on a journey, then they end up in the same place as you. Be that your mindset, your point of view, or be it Melbourne in Australia.

Example:

“I always thought that emotions were just facts of being human and never knew I could make myself happy by simply being happy. I learnt I could control my happiness one day when I was arguing with my wife and I was furious, but then the neighbour came around and I put on my fake happy attitude. When the neighbour left I wasn’t angry anymore, even though I was faking when the neighbour was there.”

Such an anecdote could be used in an essay about Australian conservatism and how people can lead awful lives if they let themselves and how people can lead great lives if they let themselves. In an essay about choosing to be happy, such an anecdote would set the scene for the rest of the essay.

A Question

Pose a question at the start of an essay and it may act as the hook. It is a risky move in most cases, but in the case of your college essay it is just another way of showing that you are trying to engage the reader. Even if the question is partially relevant, you will still get marks for it.

Example:

“What would you do to stop the Iranians blowing up Sydney?”

You could pose this question on an essay about how the Iranians are building up their nuclear arsenal to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and how the Australian people will get caught in the middle.

Set a scene

Setting a scene means constructing an environment in your reader’s mind’s eye. The hook works by putting a reader in a place where they want to explore it a little before leaving. If you set a scene, your readers may be more engaged when you get to your thesis.

Example:

“The world has lots of killers. There are violent people, religious nuts, dictators, slaughterers and mass murderers, but my essay is about something that is more deadly. My essay is about the biggest killer in history, something that has killed more than every war, every mass murderer and more than cancer combined, my essay is about aids.”

In the example, you are led by a string into wondering what the essay is all about. The example set a scene, and your natural inquisitiveness compelled you to read on to find out what the essay was about.

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