Everybody knows that the first line of a piece, the hook, is the most important part of any essay, story, or article. If you don’t catch your reader’s interest in that first moment, they may never read what you say after that. Trouble is, the first line is also the hardest to write.
To keep you from sitting frozen at your computer, or to keep your students from delaying starting an essay because they can’t figure out a good starting point, here are 9 leads to get you going:
- Analogy: Compare – “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
- Allusion: Refer to other literature work, person, or event – “I half expected for his nose to grow when he invented that crazy story.”
- Anecdote: Give a brief narrative – “The summer when I read the most was the summer that was the hottest on record.”
- Definition: Explain in the writer’s own voice (not a dictionary definition) – “The difference between a need and a want is…” Example: Give an example of your topic
- Question: Ask a question and answer it in the same paragraph
- Quote: Lead with epigraphs- “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Dickens
- Setting: Pique our interest in the background of the story. – “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day…” Bronte
- Statistic: Illuminate the topic with statistic numbers – “37% of all dogs get fleas.”
- Surprise: Surprise your reader with something unexpected- “It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” Orwell, 1984
Once you get some momentum with these hooks, continue building momentum by leading paragraphs with verbs. They provide energy (verbs do that) to whatever you’re saying.
Example: “Walking a big dog can be tricky…”
Using hooks like these in your opening lines and verbs to keep the momentum going, you’re sure to make an impression on your reader that will last way beyond the conclusion.
Would you like to teach your child English one skill at a time, in a logical order? Check out A Sequence of English Writing Skills.
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