How to Start an Essay to Catch a Reader’s Attention

Your essay may have all the right elements – excellent research, a good thesis, and a unique and original perspective – but if there is no hook to engage and capture your reader’s interest, he or she may not want to read past the first few sentences. The hook occurs in the beginning of paragraph one, usually within the first two sentences, and works to compel your reader to keep reading to the thesis at the end of your introduction.

Here are five different types of hooks that can be used to catch your reader’s attention:

  • Use a quote. Quotes are a great way to start and establish credibility towards your argument. Anything from poems to drama, song lyrics to political speeches, there are endless ways to capture your audience. Sometimes the quote isn’t as well-known as the person who stated or wrote it, so be sure to always let your audience know who you are quoting.
  • Ask a question. Asking a question is one of the easiest ways to engage your audience. Used effectively it can be a neutral way to introduce your topic without giving away your own point of view. Your audience will naturally want to know what your position is and will read on.
  • State an interesting fact or statistic. 92% of facts are made up on the spot! This isn’t true but it’s interesting enough that you want to know more about it. When writing your own essay, make sure your fact or statistic is verifiable and current.
  • Tell an anecdote. An anecdote is nothing more than a short story that leads to your central argument or thesis. If you have personal experience with your topic then it’s generally good practice to use a personal anecdote. They are excellent because they allow your audience to get emotionally involved with your topic.
  • Describe a scenario. This is similar to a short story or anecdote, except its focus isn’t on being true but instead on describing something that causes a reaction and forces your audience to think. For example, “A man in tattered clothing crouches to the floor in a crowded promenade and people don’t notice.”

Great essays are not just about presenting good and relevant information but doing so in interesting and engaging ways. Whether you are writing an argumentative essay or a college essay, be sure you use one of the several creative ways that exist to catch your reader’s attention.