How to Write Good Hooks For Stories

Tips for Drawing Your Reader in to a Story

Couple reading magazines at breakfast
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All good stories need a hook — or an interesting angle early in the story — that draws the reader in. In journalism your hook is what makes the story relevant right now and grabs the attention of the reader long enough to get them to read further.

For example, if you're writing a story on dating you need to ask yourself why it may be relevant at this moment. What's your hook? Has dating changed? If so, how has it changed?

To an extent, your hook answers the "why" of the 5W's in journalism and prompts the reader to continue reading in hopes that you will answer the other burning questions regarding the what, when, where, why and who of the story.

Writing Good Hooks For Stories and Articles

Ever start reading an article and found yourself thinking that the first few sentences were so interesting, mysterious, or thought-provoking that you just couldn't stop reading even if you tried? Aside from being a story written with an interesting angle, it was probably a hook sentence that grabbed you.

Even though there is no particular formula for writing the perfect hook sentence, there are a few ways you can approach all of your stories to draw your audience in, hold their attention and leave them wanting more:

1. Who are you writing for?

Your audience matters when it comes to crafting your hook. Consider what is going to catch someone's attention based on their age, gender and possible interests.

If you are writing for a teen magazine then your audience is going to be vastly different from engineers and programmers that may be reading the promotional brochures you write for a gaming developer.

2. What is important to your audience?

Think about the type of story you are writing and where it is going to appear.

If you write for an arts and crafts magazine then your readers will value different things compared to readers interested in finding information about health and fitness on a fitness blog.

Questions to ask yourself before writing any hook include:

  • Does your story solve a particular problem for a specific audience group?
  • Do you want to tell people something interesting about you or a product?
  • Is your reader in search of a specific type of information?
  • Do you want to show your audience that you understand a particular topic?
  • Is your story meant to entertain or educate?

3. What news is currently trending?

Since your hook must take into account why your story is relevant right now, it's also important to know what other hot topics are trending in the media right now. Turn simple story ideas into hot topics by infusing your hook with the trending topic.

For example, if you write for a cooking blog for college students, and the latest trend getting media attention is expensive ostrich meat, then your hook could be about ways to cook inexpensive chicken so that it tastes like ostrich meat. Your hook sentence (or paragraph) might start with a personal story about how much your roommate loves expensive ostrich meat, but that you were able to trick him into thinking your cheap chicken recipe was ostrich — all thanks to your grandmother's favorite recipe and a secret spice.

From that point on, your reader's can't help but keep reading to know what this secret recipe is.

Where to Start

As already mentioned above, a great hook involves starting with a subject (what you are writing about and why it matters to your reader) and then combining that with an interesting angle (the unique way you approach your subject). A strong hook sentence or paragraph may include any one of the following:

  • Ask a question. 
  • Be descriptive and paint a vivid picture of the scene.
  • Create mysterious situation that the reader just has to get to the bottom of.
  • Startle the reader with a fact.
  • Be inspirational — start with a quote.
  • Provide a plot twist.

Another way to think about your hook is to take inspiration from movies and TV shows. Think about how they begin the first shot or the opening scene and consider how you can write your hook to have the same effect.

Once you have come up with an interesting and thought-provoking hook, consider your wording, prose and writing style. Be sure to go back and edit, rephrase and rewire. After all, writing a good hook also means writing well, right from the very start of your story.