In a classical academic essay, the writer composes five paragraphs: one to introduce the topic, three to develop the theme and a concluding paragraph to sum it all up, according to the Essay Writing Help website. Following this traditional structure, the student writer must "hook" his reader (generally, his professor or instructor) in the introductory paragraph. Here, he hopes his essay makes a first impression as "startling," "pertinent" or "fun," whatever he wants to portray.

Start Anywhere

Rather than polishing the hook paragraph before going on to the body of the essay, it is often better to craft the body first. Once you have organized the main ideas you want to bring into the paper, a good introduction may become apparent. According to a guide from St. Michael's College in Vermont, most writers wait to write their initial hook until they have completed the bulk of the essay. Sometimes, as you finish the concluding paragraph, you will be struck that you have finally expressed the essence of what you want to say most clearly. In that case, move the conclusion to the beginning.

A Little Mystery Is Good

Several effective hook techniques cause your reader to pause and reflect. Asking a thought-provoking question in the first sentence can give you a chance to elaborate on it throughout the essay, considering possibilities related to the subject. Just don't answer it in the second sentence, advises the Modesto (CA) Junior College. Another way to introduce your topic is to make a statement that appears to be shockingly wrong. Follow with two or three sentences in the paragraph to show that the statement does have merit. Setting a scene by giving minute details that engage all of the reader's senses, but withholding the "where" and "when," is a third way to hook by creating suspense.

Hooks and Reverse Hooks

Transitioning from one paragraph to the next is so important in a five-paragraph essay that some writing guides advocate ending each paragraph with a minor hook. Then, the first or second sentence of the next paragraph will include a "reverse hook," an allusion to the material already presented, reports Essay Writing Help. St. Michael's College breaks the process down as drawing the reader in with the hook paragraph, presenting all of your evidence in the body and saving the main point for last, where the reader is more apt to remember it. All parts of the essay should be tied together, but redundancy is discouraged.

More Examples

Since people are more intrigued by the specific than the general, attention-grabbing hooks for the introduction include relating a personal anecdote or beginning with a quotation having to do with the subject. If the essay is about a famous person, an anecdote about the person or a quote from her might introduce the subject. Finding a quotation should not be hard. A number of websites catalog quotations by subject.