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What Hooks to Choose and How to Use Them: Essays and Research Papers

By Martha Simons

Did you know that the largest and heaviest living animal – a blue whale – can weigh up to 190 tonnes? The humanity has not come up with the type of scales where the whole body of a large whale could fit, these mammals are weighed by parts. It is hard to imagine the maximum size and mass of these mammals as they go beyond our understanding. 

Similarly, it is hard to underestimate the impact a poorly formulated hook can have on your paper. It can either grab the attention of a reader or cause confusion. The type of a hook you choose plays a fundamental role in writing an engaging and appealing introduction.

The beginning of your paper is the only chance you have to create a good impression. If your hook is inappropriate or does not bring anything exciting to the context, you fail. This manual will give you a clear idea of what hooks for essays and hooks for research paper exist. We will focus on these types of assignment because they are the ones students struggle with the most. You will have many options to choose from and will learn how to use all of them effectively.

Why Hooks Are So Important

It is a very good question. You won’t be able to use this writing technique without understanding its role in the creative process. The goal of a hook is to initiate the impulse to keep on reading something you’ve written. You might argue that your teacher will read your paper anyway, whether it has a hook or not. You are right, but your teacher is also aware of the fact that a substantial paper will have an appropriate hook in it. So, if you want to score high on an assignment, you need to play by the rules.

You can also think of a hook as of an exciting island in the sea of boring academic facts. When it comes to writing papers, rarely do students have the opportunity to explore the topic they are interested in, unfortunately. However, even a paper on biology can bring you joy if you come up with a creative and unexpected way to write an introductory paragraph. It will be an obvious sign of your responsibility and attentiveness in terms of this particular task.

One of the tips a good essay writing service can give to students is writing an introduction after the body paragraphs. If you hesitate in terms of which points to include in the paper, writing the beginning of a paper right away is not a good decision. You will most probably have to rewrite it. To avoid doing the same job twice, start with the main part of your paper. You will have a clear picture of the mood and arguments you’ve made to choose the most suitable hook.

Hooks for Essays infographic

1. Hooks for Essays: How to Make Them Work

Hooks can make your paper shine or turn it into random ramblings. You should keep in mind the context and the main idea. Choose a hook that is relevant to the thesis statement and emphasizes the message you want to communicate. Think about the mood your essay should have. Is it a good idea to start off with an anecdote if you want the audience to carefully think about the issues you will discuss? Probably not. Let’s take a look at the different types of essay hooks and their examples.

Essential Tip

You might have noticed how popular the articles with tips are among the people all over the world. We all need a piece of advice once in a while. You might interest the audience sharing your wisdom with them. Just make sure your tip makes sense and is not too obvious. Avoid cliches at any cost.

Statistical Fact

It is a great way to start an essay on a profound and noteworthy topic. You want the audience to be aware of the significance this topic has and an unexpected statistical date will do the trick.

Definition

Although some may think that using a definition at the beginning of an essay is boring and trivial, it can bring the necessary vibes to your writing. Simply don’t choose a well-known term to define its meaning as it is obvious. Your task is to intrigue a reader and not to make them yawn.

Paradox

Contradiction will not be left unnoticed by the readers. It always makes you stop and think. Many of the famous writers used this technique to make their works memorable. Some of these contradictions became aphorisms and are often used today.

Prediction

When you are writing an essay that will motivate others to change something in their way they behave, you might need to make an assumption. Show your readers what the future will look like if they don’t do anything to change it.

Famous Quote

One more characteristic of people is that we always notice something we are familiar with – something that rings a bell. If you readers see a quote they know, they will definitely start paying more attention to what you have written. Again, choose a quote that is popular but not a cliche.

Dilemma

Making a choice is never easy. A human brain will not let you pass a dilemma without considering the possible options because that’s the way people are. Therefore, starting your masterpiece with a quandary is a great idea. Your readers will definitely remember it trying to choose one of the ways of solving the proposed dilemma.

Anecdote

Humor can be your shield and your sward. It works great not only protecting you from the irony of others but can be an effective ‘ice-breaker’. Besides, it is a nice way to win the audience’s favor right away. Humor is something that unites people and your essay will not be an exception.

First-person Story

Reading a first-person story is always exciting. You start wondering what is going to happen next. If you are writing a creative essay that lets you describe your own experience, do not miss the chance to use this type of hooks for essays.

Fascinating Fact

If you’ve come to know an interesting piece of information during the preparation stage of writing an essay, sharing it with your readers can be an effective hook. Just make sure this fact fits the main idea of the essay and does not reveal all the exciting information right away.

Metaphor

Poetic metaphors are rarely used as opening sentences for some reason. It is difficult to come up with one that is beautiful and makes sense to others. If you are lucky to find this kind of metaphor, be sure to use it.

Question

Rhetorical questions are quite popular among the essayists. They let you make a statement and engage the audience all at once. Our brains love questions and riddles. This starting point of your paper will definitely make the readers consider the possible answers and explore their feelings towards the topic of your essay.

Creating the mood

To teleport your readers to the place or time you are writing about, you may create the necessary context for them. To make them get in the mood, paint a vivid picture. Define the surroundings and the people in details using the appropriate adjectives and verbs.

Hooks

Examples

Essential tip

Never use a long word where a short one will do.” – George Orwell

Statistical fact

There are 3.03 billion active social media users in the world now.

Definition

Egoism is an ethical theory that treats self-interest as the foundation of morality.

Paradox

I can resist anything but temptation.” – Oscar Wilde

Prediction

The UN Population Fund warned that the world will begin to run out of fresh water by 2050.

Famous quote

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Dilemma

Murder isn’t acceptable for pursuing a higher purpose. Or is it? (“Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

Anecdote

There was a time I did not speak English. There was a problem I needed to solve using the call center of a multinational company. I called there to hear these two messages: “If you understand English, press 1. If you do not understand English, press 2.”

First-person story

I’ve always thought that I know myself and understand the reasons behind my actions. That was until I went to see a psychotherapist. I’ve discovered many issues I have to deal with that have a great impact on my behavior.

Fascinating fact

Otters sleep holding hands.

Metaphor

A new road to freedom passes through this valley of death.

Question

What is the true meaning of friendship?

Creating the mood

It was a town of red brick, or of brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it; but as matters stood, it was a town of unnatural red and black …” Charles Dickens, “Oliver Twist”

Hooks for Research Papers: Walking on a Thin Ice

Hooks for research papers are difficult to use. You have to be 100% sure that the one you choose is appropriate and does not decrease the level of the paper’s value and importance. Therefore, you may cross out some of the hooks’ types from the list and focus on those that will actually make your paper memorable. It does not mean that using an anecdote is not allowed in a research paper no matter what a writer from a paper writing service can tell you. It may be just an unpopular option among the students but you can risk it. Some papers need a pinch of creativity to stand out. Meanwhile, let’s focus on the safe options that will not let you down.

Statistical Fact

A research paper might be the best place to use a statistical fact as an opening sentence. It will help you stress the point you are about to make and make the audience see how important this message is. The key to success is not to overdo it. Do not bombard the readers with numbers and figures at the beginning. Use them to highlight the main idea and not to confuse everyone.

Definition

If you are going to explore a narrow topic in your paper, make sure the readers are familiar with the concepts you will use. Choose one of them and define its meaning. You will avoid the unnecessary confusion and misunderstanding.

Paradox

You can go one step further and instead of using a literary paradox, you can look for the one from the world of science. You will find a long list of paradoxes in science that may correlate with the topic of your choice. Just make sure it addresses the issue you are going to explore in your research paper.

Prediction

If the research you’ve made shows some dramatic consequences of the human behavior or reasoning that have to be changed, you can make a rough prediction to make your point. If we do not stop using water wisely, we will face its shortage by 2050, for example. When you present a shocking statement that demonstrates the destructive results of our actions, it will definitely stay under the spotlight.

Famous Quote

This one is simple. Simply choose a scientist you like and look for his/her quote that is relevant to the topic of your paper. You can even entertain yourself for some time learning about the personality of your favorite physicist, biologist, mathematician, chemist, etc.

Dilemma

Should a person continue working if the country’s government offers the same level of social security as this person would get having a job? It seems like there is no point in having a stable job. On the other hand, if the country will stop getting the benefits from the people who contribute to its economy, it may lose the possibility to provide the high level of social security.

Fascinating Fact

You will be amazed by the number of fascinating facts you can find in any subject area. It seems like we learn more and more information every day and there is nothing left to surprise us with, obviously. However, the scientific community has many surprises waiting for us to discover. Make your paper engaging by finding the ones that can really astonish anyone.

Question

This time you can avoid asking a rhetorical question. If your paper is dedicated to the topic that can surprise the audience, you can ask a question related to it that has a legitimate answer. Let it be the beginning of your exploration process. Remember not to answer it right away. May the suspense of the audience lead your way to the results of your research.

Context

Before jumping to the discoveries you’ve made with your research, you might want to give readers some explanations, provide them with context. It is important to know who your audience is and what knowledge do they have on the topic of your paper. Then, it will be clear if you need to go into details or not.

Hooks

Examples

Statistical fact

There are more bacteria in a human mouth than there are people in the world.

Definition

Diffusion is the intermingling of substances by the natural movement of their particles.

Paradox

Peto’s paradox, named after Oxford professor Richard Peto, states that an expected correlation between animal size and cancer prevalence does not exist.

Prediction

According to Stephen Hawking, artificial intelligence is one of the three things that can potentially destroy the humanity in the future.

Famous quote

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” – Charles Darwin

Dilemma

Some countries generate a social dilemma when the level of welfare for an individual is higher than the amount of money they would earn when having a job (“jobless trap”).

Fascinating fact

The brain is much more active at night than during the day.

Question

How do dolphins sleep and can humans do the same?

Context

Black holes can be big or small. Scientists think the smallest black holes are as small as just one atom. These black holes are very tiny but have the mass of a large mountain. Mass is the amount of matter, or “stuff,” in an object. (nasa.gov)