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What is a hook in writing? How to grab your audience from the get-go

Make your reader sit up and pay attention with an attention-grabbing opener.

Whether you write blogs, essays or stories, engaging your reader is the hardest job of any writer. Once you have their attention, they will be a lot more likely to stick with your piece and even continue along their journey with you, whether that’s finishing your book or subscribing to your newsletter. This is where a hook comes in. But what is a hook in writing? And how do you write a good hook? Keep reading to find out more and get your hands on our top tips and examples.

Table of contents

  1. What is a hook in writing?
  2. Common types of hooks
  3. Examples of hooks
  4. How to write a good hook

What is a hook in writing?

Simply put, a hook is the opening statement in your piece of content. You usually use it in the first sentence, but some writers might prefer to use it as the last sentence in a paragraph to push the reader into the content.

In essence, the hook is designed to draw the reader in and make them want to read on, whetting their appetite for what is to come.

Common types of hooks

There are some common types of hooks that you can use in order to draw your reader into your article, story or essay:

  • You can open with a shocking or surprising statistic and then go on to explain, back up, or refute it.
  • You can use a quotation by a well known or knowledgeable voice in the field you are writing about.
  • You can begin with an anecdote that will stir up the reader’s interest, or make a statement that you will go on to explain throughout the body of your article.
  • You can start by asking a question – something that they will want the answer for, and they will need to read your piece to find it.

The hook is both how you attract and intrigue your reader, and it works as a statement of intent of what they can expect to find as they read on.

Examples of hooks

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Now that you know what kind of hooks many writers employ, what are some concrete examples of hooks in writing?

A question hook

A question hook means that you will ask the reader a question.

Example: “Have you ever thought about what people really eat for breakfast? We explore the strangest early morning meals in the world and who eats them”.

A quotation hook

If you are using a quotation hook, you will want to find a credible source to cite and open with, along with an explanation of how it pertains to the article.

Example: Journalist and food critic A. A. Gill once said, ‘Breakfast is everything. The beginning, the first thing. It is the mouthful that is the commitment to a new day, a continuing life.’ We share some good habits to start each day the right way.”

An anecdote hook

An anecdote hook opens with something a little more personal, such as a story from your own life, and then goes on to explain how this relates to your article.

Example: “I never thought I would see a fried egg and noodles for breakfast, yet everyone around me tucked in with gusto – was I the weird one? We explore unique and unusual breakfasts from around the world”.

A statistics hook

A statistics-based hook starts with a (well-researched and cited) figure that intrigues in some way.

Example: “35% of people eat cold cereal for breakfast, while only 5% eat haggis – we look into strange breakfast trends from across the globe”.

A statement hook

If you are using a statement hook, you might wish to open with an assertion of a generally perceived ‘truth’ that you willl later refute, or a clever turn of phrase to make the reader stop and think.

Example: “Breakfast food trends have taken a turn for the unusual, so we are going to explore some of the most unusual breakfasts that prove this trend”.

These are just a handful of examples. There are so many ways that you can use a hook, and the best of them will make your reader want to know more.

How do you write a good hook?

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From looking at some examples of hooks, you may feel quite confident about writing your next hook for an article or essay. However, there are some other elements that you may want to keep in mind when writing your hook:

Engage the reader

Use of the second-person pronoun ‘you’ is a great way to draw a reader into the content, but it isn’t always relevant to the audience or the content type, so adopt this with caution. Other ways to engage the reader are by using an emotive quote, image, example or statistic to make them stop and think.

Be factual – do your research

Make sure that any statistics or quotes that you use are well researched and factual – even when it comes to an anecdotal hook, they should firmly back up or illustrate the content of your argument, not just be used to grab attention. While this is the main point of the hook, it must also be cohesive with the rest of your piece. A great first sentence or paragraph matters, but ensure that you have backed this up with the rest of your piece.

Be intriguing

If you are trying to give a balanced or measured approach to a certain topic rather than prove a conclusive point, this should also be clear in your hook. Your hook is not the clickbait of your article – it should interest readers, but not draw them in with false shock value.

Show your intent

The hook should make it clear what readers can expect and the journey you are going to take them on, so that your readers will be excited, intrigued, and ultimately satisfied when they have finished reading.

The rules of writing can feel confusing, but a great hook is a vital part of so many articles, essays, blog posts, stories and more. Getting the right hook can really bring your whole piece together.

Now that you know what a hook is, you can go forward and create incredible hooks that will make your writing more attention-grabbing, interesting and cohesive. And that means you’ll be even closer to winning those fantastic writing opportunities with confidence.

Good luck with those gripping hooks, writers!

✏️ If you need a little more inspiration, why not consider taking a look at 5 of the best copywriters of all time?


Header image: The Dark Queen

Embedded images: Towfiqu barbhuiya, Drew Beamer

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