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A Killer Essay Intro: Learn How to Write a Hook for an Essay

A Killer Essay Intro: Learn How to Write a Hook for an Essay

“Did you know that more than 80 percent of youngsters use a cell phone regularly, turning it into the most frequently used medium for cyberbullying, and no-one has doubts that this type of bullying is a serious issue today.”

We believe that this introduction to an essay on cyberbullying is way more effective than something like, “Cyberbullying is bad, and we should stop it.” Which one would you choose to read? How to write a hook for an essay? Keep on reading this article to get the answers and learn how to write a killer opening line for your academic paper, story, or blog post. Head to EssayPro — professional essay writing service, in case you feel you need help with your scholarly writings. Our gurus of writing help every student.

Table of Contents

What Is a Hook Sentence?

How to define an essay hook? A hook for an essay is a sentence or few that serve as an opening line(s) of the academic paper with the aim to grab the reader’s attention from the beginning and motivate them to read the entire piece.

Why Delay Identifying Your Subject

One of the ways to get your audience hooked is to imply the narrative strategy of delay to build up momentum until you identify your subject. A title has an answer in it. That is why a writer should think about other possible ways to catch an eye of the target audience.

There are many ways you can play around with the narrative strategy.


If you’re writing an essay about tax evasion, you can briefly illustrate the process of how corrupt business people do it, before leading into your thesis statement. Picture a piece that starts as a fast-paced crime-thriller film.

If you think that the topic of your paper is not so energetic, get creative and successfully implement the offered strategy. Consider the example below:

They woof. Though I have photographed them before, I have never heard them speak, for they are mostly silent birds. Lacking a syrinx, the avian equivalent of the human larynx, they are incapable of song. According to field guides the only sounds they make are grunts and hisses, though the Hawk Conservancy in the United Kingdom reports that adults may utter a croaking coo and that young black vultures, when annoyed, emit a kind of immature snarl… (Lee Zacharias, “Buzzards.” Southern Humanities Review, 2007)

Keep in mind that this strategy can easily backfire if you stretch it for too long. Imagine the iconic opening credits to Star Wars rolling for over two minutes, creating such a long delay that it becomes frustrating and humorously absurd.

How to Write a Good Hook Step-by-Step

The type of hook you can use depends on the type of essay. While you can start a reflective essay with a joke or anecdote, it is recommended to avoid such hooks when it comes to sensitive topics like religion. The best way to start a persuasive paper would be a fact/statistics.

A writer must think about whether the piece will be creative or formal. The general tips for crafting an excellent hook sentence exist, and experts recommend sticking to them:

  • Identify the type of academic assignment. Different essays have different purposes. Try to develop various approaches.
  • Select the tone of voice of your writing. Do not jump from the serious tone to a comic one or vice versa.
  • Define the target audience. Pay attention to how different the approaches that authors use in various genres are: compare and contrast fiction and non-fiction books.
  • Develop an outline. With the help of an outline, you as a writer will understand which sections to emphasize. Based on the chosen path, you can decide which type of a hook will work best for your target audience.

Once you are ready with the hook sentence, you can think about an introduction along with a thesis statement. You can leave a hook and thesis to the last minute. In many cases, it is easier to compose a catchy hook and solid thesis statement when having the full picture in front of your eyes.

Approaches to Developing a Good First Line

In essay writing, a student has more options to choose from as this type of academic writing is less formal than a research paper. It is possible to make the readers accept your position from the opening line. A hook should be related to the thesis statement — keep it in mind.

In an essay, you have a great variety of hooks to use:


These attention grabbers can serve the purpose of your writing. It is possible to start with a thesis statement, but it will not be compelling enough. In the rest of the article, we will discuss different types of attention-grabbers to make your writing outstanding.

“You Won’t Believe What Heath Ledger Did to Prepare for His Role as the Joker.”

Fan of comic book movies or not — there is a strong chance that this headline piqued your interest and made you want to read the article. It does not mean your opener should read like a clickbait headline.
In applying the “Curiosity” strategy, you want to replicate the effect of making your audience curious to learn more. The media has never underestimated the power of curiosity. News publications, “fun-fact” media, movies, books, and advertisements are used as an editorial weapon and can inspire one to inspire others.

Statistics to Impress

If you want to shock the reader from the opening line, surf the web to find some impressive statistics. Use credible & up-to-date sources of information. People love numbers. This approach to starting an essay is the most effective if you are working on argumentative or persuasive paper, and here is an example:

“In 2000, more than 85% of adult population in the United States managed to complete high school, and 27% have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher.”

Making a Hook out of the Fact

Factual information sounds boring in most cases. A hook should be engaging, entertaining, motivating, or inspiring, and most of the bare facts sound dull — so, how to make a “candy for your essay” out of an event?

Here is how to turn a regular fact into a captivating hook sentence:

“Scientists discovered that banging your head against a wall burns 150 calories per hour — don’t say you aren’t interested in learning how they figured that one out.”

What if you had to write a problem/solution essay tackling the issue of bribery amongst professors in your university? You can start with:

“The professors at California State University are corrupt, and someone needs to do something about it.”

That doesn’t sound convincing. It’s almost as if you’re about to read the opinions of an angry grandpa. What about this one:

“A 2017 Student Government survey revealed that 40% of California State University professors had taken bribes from students because of low wages.”

This opener works better because it takes on a serious tone and presents a statistic, convincing the reader that the problem is real. If your target audience consists of university students in the U.S., this kind of opening line has high chances to grab their attention.

A student should pick a fact or quote from the source which is no older than five years. People are intersected in the latest statistics. The source should be credible — do not insert facts from the essays of other students or open-source websites like Wikipedia.

Quotations of Famous People

Everyone likes celebrities, which makes sharing a saying of a famous person or a distinguished historical figure an excellent way to start writing an essay.
Pay attention that the passage by H.G. Wells used in this article summarizes, illustrates, and embodies what an excellent paper introduction must do. The report could have ended there and left readers thinking. If you feel like a specific quote will blow your readers’ minds, then, by all means, use it. Remember that the quote has to be visibly relevant to your topic not to confuse your reader.


“Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” (John Rockefeller)


“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it occurs, one can bet it was planned that way.” (Franklin Roosevelt)


“One cannot step twice in the same river.” (Heraclitus)

Ask a Question

Asking a rhetorical question will prompt your reader to think. Posing a simple question relevant to your paper can be a great lead-up to your thesis (the answer). There are many examples available, as starting with a problem is a standard attention-grabbing technique. You should not use it in the end.

Some ‘literary agents’ believe that this method is cheesy and overused — feel free to get creative and prove that they are wrong with their judgments. A question could be either a standard one or rhetorical:

“Have you ever wondered why some people become wealthy while others keep on living in poverty?”

“You would love to have a job with promising career growth, generous social benefits, and impressive salary, would not you?”


“Imagine a time long forgotten, before the dawn of the Internet, when humans had to travel to a store to buy something.”

This humorous opener serves as an introduction to a broad topic discussing how the internet changed shopping. It is possible to start any IT paper this way. Presented in a semi-formal and widely accessible manner, like a supermarket, the writer has the opportunity to take you on a journey into the past, shed light on the present, and blast off into the future, where people don’t even need to leave the house to buy groceries. The essay leaves you informed and inspired.

Jokes, riddles, or humorous quotations related to the topic can not only ease the tension of reading a lengthy piece but place your audience in the environment where you want them to be.

Insert Simile or Metaphor

Literary devices are a powerful way to begin your essay. Similes, metaphors, allegories… Students have a great variety of literary tools to choose from to grab the reader’s attention. Simile & metaphor are similar by their nature: those are the comparisons of two unrelated things.


“Rebecca’s tears flowed like a river down her cheeks.”
“The classroom turned into a zoo after the teacher left.”
“John was thirsty that his throat was as dry as a bone.”

Introduce the Definition

If you work on the paper with an interesting primary term, a good idea will be to start with the definition of this word. Do not copy-paste it from a dictionary — rewrite one. You can offer several explanations from the official dictionaries. It is possible to insert a definition proposed by the professional or famous person as a quotation without paraphrasing it but cite it properly.

"My definition of beauty is without rules. It can be the face of a beautiful 90-year-old woman that is full of stories and emotion. Beauty is what somebody's eyes communicate.” (Penelope Cruz)

Come up with a Short Story

A writer can start an essay with a brief story. It can be a short episode from life or an imaginary event. Do not overwrite — the opening paragraph should not exceed seven sentences and try to make a hook brief & concise. An example of a hook story could be:

“In late 1890, a 26-year-old businessman attended ABC company in Melbourne. As a result, he co-founded one of the largest enterprises in the world called XYZ. HIs name was Patrick English.”

Attention Grabber of the Mixed Type

It is difficult to combine several types of hooks, but possible. The best idea is to combine a fact and rhetorical (or conventional) question or joke with a quotation. Try mixing things that get along well with each other:

“Why would anyone care about the growing number of homeless, unemployed people in district ABC? The recent drop in economic activity and overall wealth of the district prove that there is a correlation between unemployment, homelessness, and general economic situation.”

With these two phrases, a writer shows how important a particular issue is. One more idea is to combine humor with a quotation or title of famous literary work:

“Who some people choke and others panic.”

These words by Malcolm Gladwell sound fine to open a literature essay. A hook should be brief, clear, and engaging. That is how a single phrase may motivate the audience to read the piece from cover to cover. This example is intriguing as people hope to find the answer in the end. The entire essay or research paper should stimulate the reader to make it to the last page without skipping any sections, and that is why you may need to use several great hooks instead of a single one.

Tips for Developing a Good Hook for Your Paper

The biggest mistake of many students is to create a hook that lives its own life instead of complementing the whole piece. Once you are ready with your topic, you should observe the pro tips. Here is what to keep in mind:

  • Select hooks to reflect your topic. Beginning your essay with a funny or silly joke makes no sense if you are writing a paper about a severe healthcare issue like disability.
  • Use transitions to move smoothly from a hook to background info. The transition words & phrases have different purposes (“on the other side,” “compared to,” “otherwise,” “therefore,” etc.)
  • Stick to the principles of formal writing. Avoid using slang or jargon words even if your topic is not official or sensitive — it is academic writing!
  • Pose a question to make them want an answer. Any question, no matter what its nature is, will intrigue the audience and force it to continue reading. Try not to come up with a ridiculous question.
  • Review & analyze the essay samples. Find free examples of papers and pay attention to how professional writers start their pieces.

Need Help?

So you have read the article and still can not come up with a tasty punchline? Do not worry, for we are not all meant to be Mini-Shakespeareans. EssayPro has custom essay writers that have been creating these phrases for years! Just send us your write my essay request and get your unique and creative writing in no time.

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