Wednesday, October 3, 2018
WRITER 2 WRITER: 6 CAPTIVATING WAYS TO HOOK A READER
According to Worldometers, more than 3 million blog posts are published every single day. That’s over 1 billion posts a year! With so much information out there all vying for attention, how can a writer compete?
The obvious answer is to write about topics that are engaging to large numbers of people. But quality content isn’t enough. The average online reader spends just 15 seconds or less reading your posts. That means you’ve got about one sentence to grab their attention and (hopefully) keep it.
That tantalizing opening line of a blog post, article, or essay is called a HOOK. Here are 6 of the best, tried-and-true hooks to try with your next project:
1. ASK A QUESTION
One of the most effective ways to motivate someone to read on is to get them curious about what comes next. Ask an open-ended question about your topic, but make sure the answer isn’t ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The answer should unfold throughout your writing.
Example: “With millions of blog posts being published every day, how can writers entice people to read their posts?”
2. SHOCK ‘EM WITH A FACT OR STATISTIC
Is there something about your topic that is a little known or unusual fact? Or maybe you have a statistic that will blow your readers’ minds. You probably noticed that I started this blog with a statistic: 3 million blog posts a day! Did that get your attention?
3. DEFINE YOUR KEY IDEA
Never assume your readers understand everything you’re talking about. Sometimes it is best to begin by defining an important term or concept to make sure you and your readers are on the same page. Feel free to use a definition right out of the dictionary, or explain it in your own words.
Example: “According to http://Dictionary.com, a hook is not only a curved piece of metal designed for catching fish, it is also something that ‘attracts attention or serves as an enticement’.”
4. START WITH A QUOTE
One of the best ways to catch a reader’s attention is to provide an inspiring or eye-opening quote. Make sure it directly influences your topic.
Example: “Brian Clark, CEO of Rainmaker Digital and founder of Copyblogger had this to say about writing for the internet: ‘Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.’”
5. SET THE SCENE
Drop your reader right into the heart of your topic by describing a setting for them. Make sure you use the five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. Your aim is for your reader to feel like they are right there where you want them to be.
Example: “It’s early morning. The sun hasn’t even come up yet and you’re still in your pajamas. You have managed to pour yourself a steaming cup of coffee, which you now pass under your nose, drawing in its fresh, bright scent. As you press the power button on your tablet and start scanning through the day’s headlines, you take a sip and feel the hot liquid slide down your throat and that first injection of caffeine ripple through your brain.”
6. TELL A STORY
Not a long story, but a short one (a few sentences to a paragraph or two) will do. Make sure the story somehow illustrates your topic. It can be about someone else or it can be an anecdote, a slice of your own life experience. Stories help readers to personally identify with your topic.
Example: “In 1999, thirteen-year-old Peter Cashmore suffered from appendicitis. Following surgery, his recovery didn’t go as well as planned, which affected his ability to attend school. He turned to the internet to supplement his education and started learning everything he could about the new online fad called blogging. Then, in 2005 at the age of nineteen and still living at home with his parents in Scotland, Peter started his own blog. Less than two years later, over 2 million people read Mashable every month. Today, that number has grown to 23 million, and Mashable is one of the most successful blogs on the internet.”
Next time you craft a post or article, try starting with a hook and see how it reels in the readers. In the meantime, for more tips on how to engage your readers, check out Scott Piles’ book How to Write Captivating Blog Posts That Keep Readers Coming Back for More.