A hook is the text section that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to keep reading. Often it’s just a single line designed to be intriguing! It comes towards the beginning of the text, acting as a reason to read on. You can have a hook in either fiction or non-fiction texts.

Hooks in fiction

A hook in a fiction text is a sentence or section that makes the reader stop and wonder about the book. It should set the narrative apart from others and intrigue the reader about what is coming next. For example, it could hint vaguely at plot points to come, making the reader question and try to figure out what has, or will happen. Alternatively, it could disrupt the opening, setting the narrative in motion. It could also be a particularly thought-provoking sentiment that sticks with the reader. Either way, it should make the reader interested in the story and want them to keep reading.

Hooks in non-fiction

Non-fiction texts can also have hooks. Most frequently, these appear in essays in the introduction. They function the same way as arcs in fiction, serving to shock or intrigue the reader, so they don’t put the essay down.

They can be an attention-grabbing fact or statistic or a bold rhetorical question that makes the reader stop and question themselves. For example: Did you know that the worst effects of climate change could be irreversible by 2030? We need to act now!

What are some more examples of hooks in writing?

Still not sure what a hook is? Here are some things you can look out for in texts you read – you may well see them functioning as hooks! Once you can identify them, you can understand what they are and how they work practically. This can make it easier to write your own, and in no time, your writing will be vastly improved and grab readers from the very start!

At least 10,000 species go extinct every year at the very least.

You might see a sentence like this crop up in the introductory paragraph of a persuasive essay that aims to get people involved in conservation work and prevent extinction rates from being as high as they currently are. It’s designed to shock the reader and reset their attention, so they’re fully involved in the text. It should make you want to keep reading, so you can find out what to do to be part of the solution.

There was an eerie quality to the sound of the wind outside her bedroom. It reminded her of a half-uncovered memory, but she wasn’t sure of what exactly.

Sentences like these are designed to create layers in fiction texts, reminding the reader that there’s lots more to the story than what’s been laid out in the first few chapters. It gets their minds whirring as they wonder what’s happened! It should make them want to read on to find out what’s being hinted at.

What was the worst day of your life?

Rhetorical questions like this hook can be used in fiction and non-fiction texts. They get the reader thinking, which immediately gets them actively involved in the text. By making connections to their own life, the text comes alive for them. The memory invoked by the question can then be compared and contrasted against whatever comes next. For example, in a fiction text, a description of an awful day might follow a hook like this. The hook makes the story look even worse, increasing the drama of the text!

How do I write an effective hook?

Writing a hook can be difficult at first. If you set out thinking you have to write the most exciting, engaging sentence anyone has ever read, then you’re likely to have a bit of a mind blank! It can be intimidating, but there are a few tips and tricks to help you get in the zone.

  • Think about what would capture your attention. This is especially important if you’re part of the demographic you’re targeting, but either way, you’re a reader too!
  • Think about your audience, and write for them. What might they not know? What might they want to know?
  • Decide on a form. Are you going to use a statistic, a rhetorical question, a descriptive sentence, a quotation – or something else entirely? This will probably depend on the type of text you’re writing. For example, hooks in narrative texts are often descriptive sentences, whereas in non-fiction, hooks are often fact-based, like a statistic or a quote.
  • Do your research! If you’re writing an essay, know your subject thoroughly. While researching, you may well come across something organically that you think you will work well as a hook. If you’re writing a fictional text, make sure you know where the story is going, as this will help you decide what kind of hook would be most suitable. It can also help you to understand what to write, as there may be some backstory that you want to hint at or a future event you want to foreshadow.
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