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Writers' Center

Eastern Washington University

Writing Your Paper: Creating a Hook

Any of These Can Create a Good Hook

An introduction should hook, or engage, readers and give them some insight into where you'll take them. The first sentence or two of your first paragraph set the tone for the entire piece. Here are some ideas for a strong start:

  • Lead with a quotation that is provocative or well-phrased.
  • Historical/Bibliographical Review – give context and background.
  • Review the Controversy – involve your reader in the battle or issue you will be addressing.
  • From the General to the Specific (inverted triangle) – begin with a broad situation, concept, or idea, and narrow the focus to your purpose statement/thesis.
  • Begin with an anecdote or illustration – capture the audience’s imagination and interest with a story that sets the stage for your argument.
  • Ask questions – place your reader in an active role.
  • State your thesis/point right off the bat.
  • Present a paradox – begin with an assumption that readers accept as true and lead into a claim that not only challenges that assumption but may very well seem paradoxical.
  • Minding the gap introduction – call the audience’s attention to a gap in the research or subject matter; promise that you will fill in the gap. You can also identify what readers know and then what they don’t know (or what you believe they need to know).

Practice

One of the best ways to practice writing a hook is to "imitate" the way others start their pieces. Take a look at your favorite news source or blog (you could try the New York Times blogs or The Millions) and try some of the writers' strategies (without directly copying their hooks, of course!).

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