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

by Astra Bee

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

Whether you want to craft compelling blogs, thought leadership pieces, web pages or essays, engaging the reader is the hardest job of any writer. However, once you have their attention, your reader will be a lot more likely to continue along their journey with you, whether that’s clicking through to browse your products, getting to the end of your piece 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? In this article we define a hook in writing, share some examples and a step-by-step guide to how to write a good hook.

Table of Contents

What is a hook in writing?

Put simply, a hook is the opening statement in your piece of content. Traditionally, a hook appears in the first sentence; however, some writers might prefer to use it as the last sentence in a paragraph to push the reader into the content. 

If you’re writing sales copy and want to understand what is a hook in copywriting, then you might consider it as the chief customer ‘pain point’. The pain point is the reason your customer is on your page and offers you a lead in to discuss the benefits of your product. 

In essence, the hook is designed to draw the reader in and make them want to read on. It offers the suggestion they will have an answer to whatever their question is, whetting their appetite for what is to come. For this reason, it’s commonly used in tandem with storytelling copywriting.

Common types of hooks

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

Examples of hooks

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.

ExampleJournalist 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 to write a good hook for an article (or other piece of content)

How to write a good hook for an article (or other piece of content)

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

1. Nail down your reason for writing

When crafting a hook, consider the purpose of your content and the intended audience. Is it to inform, persuade, or entertain? Is your audience young or old? Do they think of the world in a certain way? Your hook should reflect the content’s purpose but also challenge and inspire readers to keep reading.

2. Talk to 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 consider whether it’s right for the type of content you’re writing. Other ways to engage the reader are by using an emotive quote, image, example or statistic to make them stop and think.

3. 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, it should firmly back up or illustrate the content of your argument, not just be used to grab attention. While engaging the reader is the main point of the hook, it must also be cohesive with the rest of your piece.

4. Set out to intrigue

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. A good way to do this is to engage your own sense of curiosity as you research and write. Your piece should be as much about what you want to learn from the journey and taking your reader along with you.

5. Show your intent

That said, the hook should aim to make it clear what readers can expect and the major points of the journey you are going to take them on. Illustrating this upfront gives your readers a reason to be excited, intrigued and ultimately satisfied when they have finished reading, knowing they got what they came for.

Hook your readers from the start

The rules of writing can feel confusing, but a great hook is a vital part of so many articles, blog posts, thought leadership pieces, speeches, emails, long-form essays, web pages, stories and more! Getting the right hook can really bring your whole piece together and sell your product, business or story to the reader.

Now that you know what a hook is, you have all the tools to go forward and create incredible hooks that will make your writing more attention-grabbing, interesting and cohesive. This is a vital skill for anyone looking to use the written word to find and engage a new audience.

Of course, if you’re struggling, why not call on the professionals? At Copify, we work with experienced writers who can craft a compelling hook and content for whatever you need.

✏️ Enquire about our article writing or copywriting services today to start engaging your audience with meaningful content.

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