By Editorial Team Sep 19, 2021
The initial words in any blog post, essay or article are the most significant. This is when you either catch or lose your reader's interest. And, in case you're wondering, the words you're reading right now are ours. They are not the ones we are referring to. We are referring to the ones who inspired you to click on this link and read thus far. The words we are referring to are in the title.
We will be the first to acknowledge that the headline of this piece was clickbait. We dislike them though. At the same time, we can't deny that listicles are effective. Even though they irritate me every time we see them, we can't help but be fascinated. What five items will pique your interest, we wonder? Will reading this article help you write better? Will you discover something new?
And that is tip number one right away.
You might be able to be more subtle about it now. You can even take the other approach and be even more blatant. The clickbait that says, "And you won't believe what happened next," or "What occurred then nearly made me cry," appears to be highly effective. We now despise these and have stopped clicking on them on principle (and seeing how quickly they vanished after initially appearing, so it seems have many other people). Nonetheless, the core concept is sound. Your headline should not only inform, but also pique the reader's interest. If you can do that, your content will at the very least generate a lot of clicks.
If all you have is bait, you're just feeding the fish. A hook is required for fishing to be successful. That is the purpose of your opening paragraph. And it has to function quickly. Nowadays, the average attention span is slightly more than 8 seconds. So you must devote nearly as much care to your opening few sentences as you do to your title. Make a statement, paint an image, surprise or astound them. Don't bore them in any way. If you do, they'll probably have another eight pages to go through.
And now comes the information. This is when you truly inform folks about whatever you utilized to entice them. Obviously, the information you provide must be interesting. That can imply that it is instructive, that your approach is engaging, or – ideally – that it is both.
The internet has its own distinct flair. “One style?” you ask, “Aren't there thousands?” And, of course, you're right there. The problem is that some of those styles are successful, while others are not. Those that do poorly in general utilize sophisticated vocabulary, extended sentences, and speak in the third person. Do you want to discover what works best? Short sentences, simple terminology, first and second person (like in "I" and "You"), and making the reader feel like they're a part of the conversation are all important.
How do you make them feel that way? One approach is to ask questions. Don't you feel involved? Okay, you might not want to go too far. It is possible to have too much of a good thing. Of course, another method is to assume the reader is speaking with you, like we did at the start of this section. That's true, only authors and prophets have the ability to pretend that people who aren't present are speaking to them. Everyone else is imprisoned.
This is a problem for me. IWe are not very good at pictures. They're not our cup of tea. We paint pictures with our words. We don't want to go through the hassle of looking for an image to go with it! But that's a poor person's strategy (as in, if you use it, you'll stay poor). We writers may be word-obsessed, but the majority of people are not. They are visual beings that value a well-chosen image. And, let's face it, an image can truly improve an article. Add to that the fact that most sites will utilize a photo from your article to promote your piece, and you can see how important they are.
So don't choose it last and don't speed through it. Take the time to select an image that complements your words, since otherwise, no matter how amazing your thoughts are, they will end up collecting dust in one of the internet's dark corners.
One strategy is to employ a strong hook—an introduction that is so fascinating that it persuades the reader that your narrative is worth reading.
A hook (or narrative hook) is a literary strategy for generating an attractive beginning—the very first line or opening of a story—that is intended to pique the interest of readers. A strong hook will captivate readers, usually by putting them in the heart of some dramatic event or by arousing curiosity about an intriguing character, uncommon scenario, or vital subject.
The goal of a hook sentence (or scene) is to attract your reader's attention and give them a cause to devote their time and energy into your writing. The right hook will keep your reader's attention on your writing, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the argument of a persuasive essay or the fantasy world of a novel. Hooks are essential in all sorts of writing: both fiction (short stories and novels of all genres) and nonfiction (academic writing such as research papers and narrative essays) benefit from an intriguing beginning.
A great attention grabber will sometimes occur to you in a flash of inspiration. According to The Writing Cooperative, coming up with hook ideas can also put your writing talents to the test at times. If you're stuck for ideas for a decent hook, use this step-by-step strategy to creating a terrific hook.
As important as your opening sentence is, keep in mind that you only have one chance to entice your reader before they open your book or click on your article: your title. Your title is your first chance to catch readers' interest before they even read your first phrase. Your title functions as a mini-hook. Consider how you might pique your target audience's interest with emotionally charged language or unexpected word combinations.
Starting with an action-packed or climactic incident is a common hook approach. This strategy captures your reader's attention in two ways. First, the excitement of the scene itself. Second, by putting your reader into the middle of the story without context, you will leave them with questions that will entice them to continue reading. Starting in the middle of a story is known as in medias res, and it is a simple technique to generate intrigue. There are a couple approaches you can take to make this hook work with the remainder of your story: You can turn your hook into a prologue or flashforward and then write in chronological sequence, or you can write in a non-linear method.
If your essay lacks action, consider capturing your reader with an emotive moment. Displaying a character's extreme emotional reaction on the opening page can help you tap into your reader's empathy rather than their drive for thrills. If your reader can form an emotional attachment to your character(s) early on, they will be more interested in what happens to them afterwards. Starting with a personal narrative is a method that works particularly well for informational and argumentative essay hooks. This emotional appeal can help readers feel more connected to a piece of writing that would otherwise be dry or fact-heavy.
Starting your work with a provocative or unexpected statement will entice your audience to keep reading since they will be curious to see how you will substantiate your point. A thematic statement can also function as a lens through which the rest of your piece is viewed by the audience. A statement hook, like a thesis statement in an academic work, will keep your readers looking for connections for the rest of the book. The opening line of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (1813) is a classic example: "It is a commonly accepted truth, that a single man in possession of a decent fortune must be in want of a wife." This phrase serves as a framework for the rest of the narrative, attracting readers without introducing any characters or setting.
The majority of hooking strategies have one thing in common: they force the reader to ask questions. A excellent hook can keep your reader guessing about your characters' motivations, backstories, and more, whether it employs action, emotion, a bold statement, or another strategy. Perhaps you learnt in high school to begin an essay with a rhetorical question. Try the same process again, but this time leave the question out of the finished artwork. Set up a situation that encourages your reader to think about the subject on their own.
You don't have many pages to entice your reader, so avoid extensive descriptive passages that don't prompt queries. Don't feel obligated to explain everything to your reader—leaving certain things unanswered helps build suspense, and you can fill in the specifics afterwards. Concentrate on the most critical details: Unless those traits have a mystery past, a long explanation of your main character's physical features is generally not the greatest choice for your opening paragraph.
Writing a fantastic hook will pique your reader's interest, but if you leave them with too many unanswered questions, they will grow frustrated. To hold your reader's interest, answer at least some of the questions provided in your hook early on, while saving certain material for later. One strategy, particularly beneficial in thrillers, is to ask a new question every time you answer a previous one, keeping your reader guessing. Don't allow your initial chapter be the only one having a hook in a work with several chapters. To keep your reader's attention throughout a longer article, try opening each chapter with a teaser—some action, a line of conversation, or an unusual statistic that will catch the reader's attention.
Read also: Types of Hooks that Grab Readers’ Attention
We hope we didn't make you feel bad for succumbing to our clearly manipulative clickbait title. If you did, chances are you'd be long gone by now, in which case my moment of vulnerability is far too late.
By the way, ‘vulnerability' would have been our sixth listicle item if we had room for it. We would have discussed how, as a writer, you must be human, humble, and down to earth if you want to actually connect with your audience. But, because we don't, we've cleverly disguised it in our conclusion. We are not sure if our editors will notice, or if they are already moved on to the next tab.
Good luck with your writing!
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