How to Start an Essay: Hooks & Strategies

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Overview

How to start an essay? This is a common first question when you begin working on an assignment. The answer is not really shocking: with an introduction. An intro is the face of any written work. If it’s good, it lures people into your essay and evokes interest. And here, you will find everything you need to make an effective introduction.

This includes the common structure of a generic introduction together with examples for the most popular essay types and topics.

  1. 🔤 The Basics
  2. 📑 How to Start an Informative Essay
  3. ️ How to Start a Comparative Essay
  4. 👁️‍🗨️ How to Start a Rhetorical Analysis Essay
  5. 📒 How to Start a Narrative Essay
  6. 👤 How to Start a Biography Essay
  7. Essay Hook Examples

🔤 How to Start an Essay: The Basics

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Every basic introduction has 3 main components in it:

  • Essay hook. The sentence you attract people with.
  • Background information. Everything people need to know before diving into your work.
  • Thesis statement. The main idea of your paper.
The picture contains the 3 key components of an essay introduction.

Let’s look deeper into each of these three components.

Essay Hook

A hook is a sentence (or several sentences) that grabs readers’ attention. If your essay is a shop, your intro is a neon sign above it. The hook must shine bright, spark interest, and be original. And there are many ways you can go about it.

Joke Hook

Use if you want to show off your inner comedian. A good jest always sets a positive mood and sparks the desire to read further. In case you manage to provide it, that is. Remember, you are trying to make people interested, not make them laugh. Go with something neutrally funny like:

“When would you want a man’s company? When he owns it!”

It’s not a hilarious masterpiece, of course. But you don’t need one. Smile is brought, attention is grabbed, you are good to go.

Shocking Statement

Another good way to get people’s attention is to shock them. Write down something controversial, something that makes people ask “What? Really?”. For example, imagine seeing something like:

“You mustn’t keep your fish in a round tank.”

You suddenly must know what is wrong with damned round tanks! Even if you don’t have a fish in the first place. Keep in mind to not traumatize people with your shocking reveals. You want to keep disturbing or offensive information out of your work.

Quote

Opening your essay with a quotation is also a decent option. There are millions of wise things said, and you can choose any of them. Just make sure you quote the exact words of the person who actually said it.

Metaphor

Compare two things that seemingly have no connection. The reader will ask “Why?” and will keep on reading.

For example:

“Writing an essay is like creating a piece of music.”

Don’t be too sophisticated, though. People might not get comparing MLK’s speech to a clam, for instance. Yes, you can find some similarities if you try hard enough. Just don’t do it.

Statistics

Citing statistics can be simple and effective. You just need to find numbers interesting enough to make people curious. It’s easy, but keep in check the credibility of your sources.

Question hook

When someone sees a question, they must answer it. Our inquisitive nature demands it. That’s why putting one in the introduction is a good idea. However, the question should be related to your topic. Going “Hey! What’s a star cluster? Anyways, here’s my essay about feminism.” is never good.

Background Information

Background information is everything the reader needs to know about your topic. It has to be brief but not insufficient. 2-3 sentences are usually enough. And be grounded while you describe the background. No specific terminology or jargon unless necessary. Assume that the reader is not an expert on the subject.

Thesis Statement

It’s the key part of your essay. A thesis statement defines the main idea and the structure of your paper. A good thesis also leaves some room for discussion. The size is usually 1 sentence (two if the concept is complicated). It actually can be tricky to nail perfectly.

So, let’s look at some bad examples of a thesis statement and try to improve them:

Bad Better Explanation 💬
Racism is a big problem in the modern world.Although the modern world sees less racism than it used to, we still have a long fight ahead, and the cultural celebration might be the perfect weapon for it.“Racism is bad” is an obvious, unspecific and undebatable statement. Everything that can be wrong is wrong here. Try to always be specific with your thesis.
Multiculturalism is a necessary part of a healthy society.While The Melting Pot Theory of multiculturalism is not unreasonable or wrong, to save cultural traditions, we, as a society, must do everything to prevent the theory from happening and alter it with The Salad Bowl Theory.An obvious statement again. You want your thesis to be significant and precise. Focus on some specific topic, not the whole generality. The better example here gives room for discussion with the “While” part. Then it provides a short argument for our point of view. And then it specifies the subject.

Want to learn more on the topic? You are welcome to read our articles with thesis statement examples and formula. Another great option is to try our thesis generator. This free tool will create a great thesis statement for you in a couple of clicks.

📑 How to Start an Informative Essay

An informative essay is an explanation of a particular subject. The basic introduction structure (Hook + background info + thesis) can be applied here easily. As a hook, you should use either statistics or an intriguing fact. A question hook can also be a good idea.

Informative Essay Introduction Example

The Harm of Being Addicted to Caffeine

Have you ever experienced caffeine withdrawal? This question might look like a loaded one. But the caffeine withdrawal is an actual medical condition. Researches assume it to affect almost half of overall coffee drinkers. Although caffeine can provide you with some energy, we must not forget various negatives like insomnia or even death that may come with it.

️ How to Start a Compare & Contrast Essay

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The name of this essay type speaks for itself. You take two things, and you compare them.

The introduction structure is basic:

First comes a hook, then background information, and then a thesis. A metaphor hook can work here. Another option is to go with a question or an interesting fact.

Comparative Essay Introduction Example

Rap & Rock Music: the Eternal & Unreasonable Conflict

Rap music is like rock, but better. Or is it vice versa? There is no clear answer to this question. It all depends on your taste, after all. But for some reason, these two genres have been seemingly clashing the most for a long time. While there are some similarities, the drastic difference between these two-music types sparks heated discussion worldwide, and to avoid unnecessary conflict, they must be stopped.

👁️‍🗨️ How to Start a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

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Rhetorical analysis is a bit more serious than the previous two types. The subject is usually a written work or a speech. Such essays disassemble them into rhetoric devices and try to explain them.

The introduction structure is standard (Hook + Context + Thesis).

But be careful with the hook. A joke or a corky fact won’t do here. Instead, you can hook with a brief characterization of the text analyzed.

Rhetorical Analysis Introduction Example

The Inspirational Genius behind Winston Churchill’s Speeches

"We shall fight on the beaches" speech by Churchill is considered the most inspirational speech of WWII. These menacing words were delivered in 1940, inspiring young soldiers of Great Britain to endure the entire war and giving them the bravery to put their lives on the line for their country. By this analysis, I show the phenomenal effect of the speech not to be purely charisma-related but also to be a product of logos, ethos, and pathos, all three combined.

📒 How to Start a Narrative Essay

A narrative essay is a story. It can be your personal experience or just fiction. The goal is to prove your point of view by using narrative devices.

The introduction here will be different. We will get rid of a thesis. We will also describe the characters and setting of the story rather than background information. You can hook readers with a joke or quote that suits your story somehow.

Narrative Essay Introduction Example

My Experience of Meeting My Partner’s Parents

"If you want to know your partner, meet their mother." I had always been uncertain if these words were true. One evening, though, these uncertainties were wiped out of my mind completely. The evening I met my girlfriend's mother.

👤 How to Start a Biography Essay

Biography is a story of someone’s life (the author’s one when we are talking about an autobiography). This life is usually described as an example to prove or disprove a point.

The opening structure is usual, although the thesis will be done differently. Instead of making a point and structuring the text, our thesis will be a one-liner about the subject. Possible hook options are a quotation or a personal anecdote. The more creative you are here, the better.

Biography Essay Introduction Example

The Story of My Scampish Brother: The Most Honest Man I Know

"It takes strength and courage to admit the truth." Applying this logic to my older brother makes him an extraordinarily strong person. He was born in Huston, Texas, in 1991. And he has never lied to anyone in his life.

🎣 Bonus: Essay Hook Examples

Below you’ll find a collection of hooks for papers on various topics. Still looking for a fascinating essay title? Try our research topic generator.

Essay Hooks About Family

Question hook exampleWhy do you love your parents?
📊Statistics hook exampleThe average family in the USA consists of 3.15 people.
💬Quote hook example“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.”
😆Joke hook exampleEveryone believes in heredity until their children start to act weird.

Essay Hooks About Climate Change

Question hook exampleAre we going to freeze to death in 20 years?
📊Statistics hook exampleThe average temperate on Earth has suffered a 1-degree Celsius increase since the 20th century.
💬Quote hook example“Climate change is real. It is happening right now”.
😆Joke hook exampleWhy does climate need privacy? Because it’s changing.

Essay Hooks About Anxiety

Question hook exampleIs feeling anxious okay?
📊Statistics hook exampleAnxiety disorders affect 40 million American adults.
💬Quote hook example“Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.”
😆Joke hook exampleI am very laid back and care only about every opinion about me on Earth.

Essay Hooks About Technology

Question hook exampleWill robots take your job?
📊Statistics hook example90% of all data that exist right now was created in the last two years.
💬Quote hook example“Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.”
😆Joke hook exampleWhat’s every programmer’s favorite eyewear? Google.

Essay Hooks About War

Question hook exampleCan you imagine yourself in World War II?
📊Statistics hook exampleBritish soldiers of the Second World War had only 3 sheets of toilet paper ratioed a day. Americans had 22.
💬Quote hook example“God created war so that Americans would learn geography.”
😆Joke hook exampleA Twitter user would make an awful soldier. They would be the fastest to retweet.

Essay Hooks About Feminism

Question hook exampleDid you know that feminism is good for men?
📊Statistics hook exampleFor every dollar earned by a man, a woman makes 0.78.
💬Quote hook example“You educate a man: you educate a man. You educate a woman: you educate a generation.”
😆Joke hook exampleHow many feminists does it take to make a joke? One. Stop being sexist.

Essay Hooks About Networking

Question hook exampleHow many people do you actually know?
📊Statistics hook exampleFace-to-face meetings are considered the best way to build relationships by 95% of people.
💬Quote hook example“Your networking is your net worth.”
😆Joke hook exampleWhen I was a kid, my social network was called “Outdoors.”

And that will be all tips we give you today. Make sure to comment on what info you’ve found the most useful. And good luck with your assignment!

🔗 References

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