You might as well put your pen down right now if you don’t abide by this secret weapon of strong writing.
Your ideas might be carefully articulated, your words eloquently crafted, your message important and urgent – but this leads nowhere if your readers’ eyes sweep past your words and settle somewhere else instead.
The hook is the element of writing that exists to give you the all-important edge: your readers’ attention.
Successful hooks are carefully created with a clear understanding of your audience and what they care about (see last issue’s column).
The hook is often seen in your email subject line, in the heading of your document, title of your presentation, or as the first paragraph of your text. It might also be used in sub-headings – no need to limit yourself to just one hook.
It can break the mould from the style of writing in the rest of your document – it’s a chance to be playful, surprising, pose a question. You can make it a teaser or a play on words. One approach is to highlight your document’s most dramatic or compelling fact, statistic or quote. Personal stories are also strong hooks – readers can’t help be drawn in by a well-crafted anecdote.
Your hook doesn’t need to be central to what you’re writing about, but it must not be misleading: nobody likes click-bait.
Remember, as with all strong writing, your audience is key. Whatever hook you try – it must be there because you’ve decided that it’ll grab your particular audience by the eyeballs.
Anneli Knight is director of Eloquence Consulting and board member of Byron Writers Festival. The next Eloquence business writing workshop is at Elemenets on 6th October.