Reading & Writing Across Curriculum

Hooks and Grabbers

A hook or grabber is a catchy, compelling opening that is meant to grab readers’ attention and draw them into the essay.

Examples of hooks/grabbers include:

  • An intriguing question that will make readers curious
  • A historical or current-events example of the concepts being discussed
  • A personal example of how the writer connects to the topic
  • A summary or example of an important problem that will be explored in the essay

If you use a hook/grabber in your introduction, you will still need to include the other elements of an introduction. As a general rule, the hook/grabber should comprise less than half of the introduction, leaving plenty of room to explain the essay’s main ideas and thesis statement. The hook/grabber should always have a direct connection to the thesis of the essay.

When and How to Use Hooks and Grabbers

Not all types of writing use hooks/grabbers. The choice of whether to use a hook/grabber and which hook/grabber to use will depend on the type of writing.

 

Journalistic Writing (such as magazine and newspaper articles)

Hooks and grabbers are frequently used in journalistic writing. The audience for this type of writing may not be familiar with the topic being discussed, so the hook/grabber helps capture readers’ interest. The hook/grabber might show how the topic connects to the experiences of everyday people. 

Example

Have you ever gone to your favorite local swimming hole, only to find it covered with green, ropey gunk? That gunk is called algae. Swimming in algae can be unpleasant and messy, but science is exposing new reasons to avoid algae: it can be dangerous for our health.

 

Explanation

This hook/grabber is intended for an audience who does not know very much about algae.

 

 

Academic Writing (such as college essays)

This type of writing may not require a hook/grabber. The audience for academic writing is people already knowledgeable about the subject matter, such as your instructor or classmates. A hook or grabber aimed at a general audience  may appear distracting or unprofessional, since the reader already knows a lot about the subject. If you use a hook/grabber for academic writing, it should be something that would interest an expert: an intriguing question or an illuminating example from your research. 

Example

Doctors in California noticed a disturbing trend during the summer of 2015: numerous patients experiencing stomach discomfort after going swimming. The culprit, it turned out, was a previously unstudied toxin released by the algae commonly found in local ponds and lakes.

 

Explanation

This hook/grabber assumes that readers are already familiar with and interested in the topic of algae. The writer creates a hook/grabber by choosing one of the most interesting ideas from the essay and placing it at the beginning.

 

 

 

Scientific/Informational reports (such as lab reports and scientific research projects)

Reports in physical or social sciences often open with their main point rather than a hook/grabber. The intended audience is experts in the subject matter; for example, a biology report is written for other biologists and biology students. Scientific reports are often strongest without a hook/grabber.

Example

Researchers at the University of California have discovered a previously unstudied toxin released by the algae commonly found in local ponds and lakes.

 

Explanation

This hook/grabber assumes that readers are already familiar with and interested in the topic of algae. The writer creates a hook/grabber by choosing one of the most interesting ideas from the essay and placing it at the beginning.

 

 

If you aren’t sure if a hook or grabber is appropriate for your writing assignment, ask your instructor. You can also visit the LPC RAW Center for help.

 

Reading and Writing Resources

Meghan Swanson
RAW Coordinator
925.424.1249

 

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Originally created by
Karin Spirn and
Meghan Swanson

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Page last modified: August 29, 2017