Introduction/Hook - Ms Sihly`s Literacy Resource Center

The “Opening Hook”
The first paragraph of any essay should contain an opening hook (a device for
getting the attention of the reader). In narrative essays, the introductory paragraph might
also contain necessary information for establishing the context or the situation (exposition), and
it might conclude with the narrative hook, which begins the central conflict.
The opening hook, often the first sentence but sometimes
the first paragraph or paragraphs, is an attention-getting
device used by the writer to"hook"the reader and draw him
or her into the essay. (It is not the same thing as the
“narrative hook”!)
Action Hook:
I remember Chris and I were on a trip to Canada a few years ago, got about 130 miles and were
caught in a warm front of which we had plenty of warning but which we didn't understand. The whole
experience was kind of dumb and sad. …
Dialogue hook:
“Have you dived in the pass yet?” the proprietor of the hotel asked the first evening, when we told
him that we liked the diving.
“No,” we said, “not yet.”
“Ah,” he said, “You must dive the pass. It is the most exciting dive on Rangiroa,”
“Why is that?”
“The swiftness of the current, and also there are many fish.”
“Sharks?” someone asked.
“Yes,” he said, smiling, “usually some sharks.”
I was in Tahiti for Christmas with my family. We were visiting several island, and we had begun with the
most remote. …
-- opening of Michael Crichton’s essay “Sharks” in Travels.
Startling/Disturbing/Surprising Fact or Statement Hook:
It is not easy to cut through a human head with a hacksaw. The blade kept snagging the skin, and
slipping off the smooth base of the forehead. …
-- opening of Michael Crichton’s essay “Cadaver” in Travels
I never learned hate at home, or shame. I had to go to school for that. I was about seven years old
when I got my first big lesson. …
-- opening of Dick Gregory’s essay “Shame”
Character Description Hook:
Father was a stern straight man. Straight legs and shoulders; straight side-trim to his beard, the
ends of which were straight-cut across his chest. From under heavy eyebrows his look was direct, though
once in a rare while a little twinkle forced its way through. Then something was likely to happen.
Our family had to whiz around Father like a top round its peg. …
-- opening of Emily Carr’s essay “Time” in The Growing Pains: The Autobiography of Emily Carr
Setting Hook:
It is Sunday afternoon, and sun is pouring through the kitchen window by the sink. A rainbow
filtered through a suspended crystal, striking the floor, lying in wait for the kitten who has now become a
cat. The dust is still falling, particles floating before my eyes, whole little worlds, so much like that speck
Horton, the ethical elephant, guarded even at the peril of his life. My hand reaches out …
Rhetorical Question Hook:
What did I see that night I peered through the slits in the Venetian blinds covering the glass on my
grandmother’s door? Was it the eyes of some poor dog or cat stranded in the sudden downpour of the
thunderstorm, or was it my doppelganger, my own psychic twin come to visit me and frighten me into
being a more obedient child?
To this day, I do not know. My brother was in the hospital, and …
Humor Hook:
Knock, Knock.
Who’s there?
Orange Who?
Orange you glad to see me?
It was the summer of knock, knock jokes and bad puns. It was the summer that I met Francis. …
Apt Quotation Hook:
When I remember what Oscar Wilde wrote in “The Critic as an Artist,” that “there is no sin except
stupidity,” I have to admit that my brother is the most sinful person in the world. From our earliest days, he
was the dupe of the most amazing schemes, but perhaps the most serious and therefore most sinful of all was …
End-of-the-Story Hook:
In the time of the April lilacs in the year 1865, a man in the city of Washington, D.C., trusted a guard to
watch at a door, and the guard was careless, left the door, and the man was shot, lingered a night, passed away,
was laid in a box, and carried north and west a thousand miles, bells sobbed; cities wore crepe; people stood with
their hats off as the railroad burial car came past at midnight, dawn, or noon.
-- opening of Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, the beginning of Carl Sandburg’s biography of Lincoln
Directions: Look at your handout on “Opening Hooks” (NOT “narrative hooks”). Look over the
examples and explanations. Below are two “hooks” students wrote to begin their personal narratives.
What kinds of hooks are they?
There was a burst of orange in the western sky; the sun slowly moved below the horizon.
In front of the sun was the shadowed figure of an old house and a tall oak tree. The light of the
sun made them both look black and old like they had been scorched by fire and were ready to
collapse. In front of the house and tree was a black, two-lane highway. Behind me were
monotonous rows of almost identical off white trailers. The air smelled salty because of the
waterway. In the background, I could hear the sound of birds chirping and children playing.
The birds’ chirping was high-pitched and fast; they seemed excited that the day was over. The
children sounded excited too, with their loud, jovial screams of laughter. The hard concrete on
which I sat was rough and chipped. Behind my back I could feel the splintered wooden pole
scratch me. It was connected to the broken down old gazebo behind me. Above my head was
that bright orange sky, with gray clouds in long strands moving out across it like ocean waves
coming from the setting sun. With the beauty of the evening in all its action and brightness, I
was bored.
I was at the coast for that summer at a small family campground. …
This is an example of a/an ____________________ hook.
The sun rose like a golden eye over the Earth, and the night gave birth to a new day. The
first light carried the scents of sweet marigolds, honey, and dew. A deer leapt across the
meadow, making a slight rustling as it hit the knee-high grasses. The birds called out, some
fluting beautifully, others squawking, while the bats slept, their dark night-shift over. A horse
neighed irritably for its breakfast of golden hay and lush grain. The green grass was a cold, wet
compress on the forehead of a waking giant, reluctant to start his day. The pond below the hill
still slept under a blanket of fine mist pale and ghost-like in the orange glow of the dawn sun.
The cattails waved in the cool breeze, and a water-skipper, skimming across its glassy domain,
was swallowed promptly by a scaly fish.
It had been two years since …
This is an example of a/an ____________________ hook.