By Steve Aidy
According to a recent study, 30% of all book readers will stop reading by page 50 and only 11% will make it to the end of the book. Meanwhile, a mere 16% of internet users read a webpage word-by-word.
As a writer, these are difficult stats to digest. After laboring for hours, days, months, or years on your masterpiece, you sincerely hope more than just a handful of readers will enjoy it. Luckily, there is a way to increase the likelihood of this happening.
Grabbing the Readers’ Attention with Essay Hooks
The key to quality content lies in the first paragraph. Most often referred to as a essay hook or lead, this introduction must capture the readers’ attention. Once you have peaked their interest, readers are more likely to advance through your written words.
One advertiser wrote; “Begin the copy with a lead that will tease, tickle or tempt the reader.” Sounds enticing, right? Want to know how to do it?
Here are six different types of essay hooks or leads you can use to entice your readers.
Begin your piece with a summarization of the events that took place. Share the who, what, when, where, why and how (or at least the most important of these things). Give the readers an idea of where the story is headed.
“The generation usually associated with computers and technology still rallies to learn skills like sewing, cooking, and child development through the high school’s home economics class.”
Use a short narration to tell a story. Usually, readers can identify with the characters or situation. A narrative hook makes it easy for readers to get drawn in.
“Anxious and stressed, you grip the steering wheel until your knuckles turn white. You try to focus on the instructions being given, but the gawking, laughing passersby in the parking lot snag your attention instead. Oh, the joys of driver’s education!”
Use descriptive words to help the reader hear, see, smell and feel the story. Create a mental picture of the subject. Readers can actually feel the mood and setting.
“The aroma of grilled steaks melded with the scent of barbeque chicken. Catcalls and gears of the opposing team were barely discernible over the boisterous fun of the neighbors. Sweat trickled down my back as I contemplated my next move. All of my senses were on overdrive as I gripped the cornhole bag in my hand. This last toss would determine the outcome of the game.”
Sometimes, a writer can use a direct quote to set the stage for the piece. Choose a quotation that is significant, stands out in importance, and gives a focus to the overall story. This tends to be a fairly easy-to-use hook; as a result, it is often overused. Use quotations sparingly.
“It’s a tragedy. At the end of the day, people are dead and in response to tragedy, we want to remember all those who were involved,” a church member told NBC news.
Another popular, easy-to-implement hook is the question. While some refer to this as the lazy man’s lead, it can still be effective. If the question challenges the readers’ knowledge or curiosity, go ahead and use it. However, make sure the question is central to the overall story.
“Do you want to make more money? Of course you do! Who isn’t searching for the next get-rich-quick scheme?”
Often times, a writer can use an exclamatory lead to snag readers’ attention. Use a short, striking, startling statement that demands attention.
“Middle-class parents who welcomed a child last year can expect to spend $300,000 over the next 17 years – and that doesn’t include the cost of a college degree!”
The next time you sit down to write, think of ways to grab the readers’ attention. Use the first paragraph to hook your readers and spark their interest.
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