Good Hooks for Essays: 14 Hook Ideas with Examples

Now here’s the clue.

If you want to wow your teacher, polish the introduction. Add something interesting, funny, shocking, or intriguing. Good essay hooks help you build an emotional connection right from the start. Think of an essay hook as bait for your readers.

Our expert team has prepared numerous examples of hooks for essays. You’ll find hook examples for an argumentative essay, personal story, history essay, and other types of papers.

For 100% clarity, we provided examples using each hook tactic. And a short part about how to write a good hook.

Teacher: "I won't forgive you for this essay."  Student: "But you gave me an A. What's wrong with it?"  Teacher: "I couldn't stop reading it, and I burned my dinner."

We highly recommend reading all the methods and examples, so you don’t have any questions:

  • 💎 What Exactly Is a Hook & How to Write a Good One
  • 📜 Examples of Classical Essay Hooks
  • 💡 Try Some Informative Essay Hooks
  • 🦄 Here are the Most Uncommon Essay Hooks

✅ Good Hooks for Essays: Bonus Tips

  • 🔗 References for More Information

We highly recommend reading all the methods and examples, so you don’t have any questions.

💎 How to Write a Hook That Will Work for Your Essay?

The hook of your essay usually appears in the very first sentence.

The average length of an essay hook should be 3-7 sentences, depending on the topic.

But first, let’s quickly go through the key questions.

What Is an Essay Hook?

An essay hook (or narrative hook) is a literary technique that writers use to keep their readers engaged. It shows that the content below is worth reading.

The hook can have different lengths. Some writers make it last for several pages. Though, it better be a short paragraph or even a sentence.

Why Do You Need a Good Essay Hook?

Writing the right hook is essential for a few reasons:

  • It heats up your readers’ interest. If you did it right, they read the whole piece.
  • It shows off your skills . A right hook presents you as an expert in your field.
  • It attracts target audience. Only the readers you want will keep reading.
  • It keeps the tension on the right level. Use an intriguing question, and a reader dies to find out the answer.
  • It makes a good introduction. Starting your essay off a boring fact is simply not a good idea.

How to Write a Good Hook: Ideas and Examples

Next, we will discuss these hook types in more detail. We’ll also provide essay hook examples of less common yet intriguing types: dialogue, story, contradiction, comparison, definition, metaphor, puzzle, announcement, and background information hooks.

💬 The Famous Quote Hook

Use a famous quote as a hook for your essay on history, literature, or even social sciences. It will present you as an established writer. It shows how knowledgeable you are and motivates the readers to engage in the text.

⬇️ Check out examples below ⬇️

Quote Hook Example: Political Science

Hilary Clinton once said that "there cannot be true democracy unless women's voices are heard." Which creates a discussion about how perfect democracy should look like. If it is a form of government that considers all opinions, why are women silenced so often even nowadays? The truth is that we need to ensure completely equal opportunities for women in politics before we talk about establishing the correct version of democracy. And even the most developed and progressive countries are still struggling to get to that level of equality. It can be achieved by various methods, even though they might only work in certain countries.

Social Sciences

"Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country." These words of wisdom from John Kennedy reflect the perspective we need to teach the younger generations. For some reason, it has become popular to blame the government for any problem arising in society. Is it their fault that we don't think about waste and keep trashing our home? Social responsibility is a real thing. The well-being of our countries starts with the actions of every separate individual. It is not entirely right to wait until the government fixes all the issues for us. The best strategy is to start thinking about what we can do as a community to make our home even a better place.

And excellent sources of quotes for you:

  • Brainyquote.com – you can search quotes by topic or by author.
  • Goodreads.com is not only a great collection of e-books but also quotes.
  • Quoteland.com has plenty of brilliant words for all imaginable situations.
  • Quotationspage.com – more than 30,000 quotations for unique essay hooks.

❓Rhetorical Question Essay Hooks

It doesn’t have to be rhetorical – any type of question addressed to your audience will do its job. Such a universal kind of hook can spike the interest of your readers immediately.

Some useful patterns of rhetorical questions:

  • What could be more important than…?
  • What if there was only one… (chance/day/hour)?
  • Who wouldn’t like to… (be a cat/turn visitors into clients)?
  • Why bother about… (inequality/imperfect education system)?
  • Which is more important: … (making money or realizing potential)?

And more in examples:

Example of a Question Hook on Education

Wouldn't free access to education for everyone be wonderful? The answer would most likely be positive. However, it is not as simple as it seems. As much as the governments try to achieve this goal, there are still many uneducated people. On the bright side, in the era of technology, learning has never been so easy. Of course, some young adults just prefer the shortcut option of taking a student loan. Other ways are much more challenging and require a lot of responsibility and patience. Finding free educational resources online and gaining experience with the help of video tutorials might sound unprofessional. Still, you will be surprised how many experts hired in different fields only received this type of education.

Question Hook Example: Health

Is there anything that can help you lose weight fast? You have probably heard of this magical keto diet that is getting more and more popular worldwide. People claim that it helps them shred those excess pounds in unbelievably short terms. But how healthy is it, and does it suit anyone? The truth is that no diet is universal, and thanks to our differences, some weight-loss methods can even be harmful. Keto diet, for example, leads your body into the state of ketosis. What happens is that you don't receive carbohydrates, and in this state, fat is used as the primary source of energy instead them. However, it carries potential threats.

😂 Anecdotal Essay Hooks

This type would usually be more suitable for literary pieces or personal stories. So, don’t use it for formal topics, such as business and economics. Note that this hook type can be much longer than one sentence. It usually appears as the whole first paragraph itself.

It wouldn't be Kate if she didn't do something weird, so she took a stranger for her best friend this time. There is nothing wrong with it; mistakes like that happen all the time. However, during only five minutes that Kate spent with the stranger, she blabbed too much. Thinking that she sat down at the table that her friend took, Kate was so busy starting on her phone that she didn't notice that it wasn't her friend at all. Sure enough, the naive girl started talking about every little detail of her last night that she spent with her date. It was too much for the ears of an old lady. Kate realized she took the wrong table only when it was too late.

Literature (personal story)

Do not ever underestimate the power of raccoons! Those little furry animals that may look overly cute are too smart and evil. It only takes one box of pizza left outside your house by the delivery person for the disaster to begin. When they smell that delicious pizza, no doors can stop them. They will join the forces to find a hole in your house to squeeze into. Even if it's a window crack four feet above the ground, they know how to get to it. Using their fellow raccoons as the ladder, they get inside the house. They sneak into the kitchen and steal your pizza in front of your eyes and your scared-to-death dog. Not the best first day in the new home, is it? 

📈 Fact or Statistic Hook

Looking deeper into your essay topic, you might find some numbers that are quite amusing or shocking. They can serve as perfect hooks for economics- and business-oriented writings. Also, it is better if they are less known.

Business/social sciences

The UAE workforce is culturally diverse since around 20% of employees (usually called expatriates) come from different countries. Ex-pats tend to take managerial positions, which makes communication within companies quite tricky. The training focused on raising cultural awareness is getting more common, but such educational strategies as games (or gamification) are still rarely applied in the UAE companies. Yet, gamification was a useful tool in other places, making it an attractive UAE team building method. It can significantly help integrate ex-pats and create a more culturally aware environment.

The full version of this paper is here: Gamification and Cross-Cultural Communication in Dubai

Statistic Hook Example in Economics

The United Arab Emirate's debt has been rising drastically in past years, from about US$17 billion in 2003, which is almost 19 percent of GDP, to US$184 billion in 2009. Only a small proportion of the debt can be tracked directly to the public sector. A report by UBS bank shows that most of the debt comes from the corporate sector. Most of the companies that hold the main section of the debt are financial institutions. The public sector partly owns them. Banks in the UAE have been accumulating their debt amounts in the years mentioned above and could now account for 75 percent of the total foreign debt. The discussion is about the reasons why the UAE debt has been rising at an alarming rate.

Check the whole essay Debts in the United Arab Emirates .

Some good sources for statistics

  • Finance.yahoo.com is perfect for business papers.
  • Usa.gov/statistics is an easy-to-use governmental engine for searching data and stats.
  • Unstats.un.org provides a massive collection of statistics published by UN organizations
  • Oecd-ilibrary.org is the online library of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), featuring its books, papers, and statistics and is a gateway to the OECD’s analysis and data.

🤯 Shocking Facts are Very Good Hooks for Essays

Very similar to a statistical hook, a fact can serve as a perfect engaging introduction. Search your field for some shocking phenomenon and gently insert it in the beginning.

Don’t forget to include a reliable source reinforcing your words!

Fact Hook Example in Economics

Nowadays, much attention is paid to the problem of shark finning around the world. Millions of sharks are killed annually for their fins, and many of them are dropped back to the ocean finless, where they die because of suffocation. In many countries, the idea of shark finning remains illegal and unethical, but the possibility of earning huge money cannot be ignored (Dell'Apa et al. 151). Regarding available technologies, market economies, trade relations, and cheap employment, it does not take much time to organize special trips for shark hunting. The Trade of shark fins is alive and well developed in countries like the United States and China. However, the number of people who are eager to try shark fin soup has considerably decreased during the last several years because of the popularity of anti-shark fin soup campaigns and laws supported worldwide (Mosbergen). The situation continues to change in China.

Read the full paper about China Southern Airlines being against shark finning .

Daniel Stacey and Ross Kelly observed that long lines and a new gray market trend for bigger screen phones marked Apple's new iPhones debut. As expected, new phone models drew Apple fans outside retail stores (Stacey and Kelly). Global critics, however, noted that this year's lines were generally longer relative to previous periods mainly because of the developing gray market for Apple products. The new Apple's iPhones have larger screens than the previous models. Also, they boast of improved battery life, faster processors, and an enhanced camera. Tim Cook called them "mother of all upgrades" (Stacey and Kelly).

For the whole text, go to Apple’s New iPhones Start Selling in Stores” by Stacey and Kelly

Sources to look for reliable facts:

  • Buzzfeed.com – news, videos, quizzes.
  • Cracked.com – a website full of funny stuff, like articles, videos, pictures, etc.
  • Webmd.com – an incredible collection of medical facts you will love.
  • Livescience.com – discoveries hitting on a broad range of fields.
  • National Geographic – needs no introduction.
  • Mental Floss answers life’s big questions, a compilation of fascinating facts and incredible stories.

🗣️ Dialogue as a Catchy Hook for Essays

Dialogue is another type of hooks that goes perfectly with pieces of literature and stories. It can even make your short essay stand out if you include it at the beginning. But don’t forget that it only concerns specific topics such as literature and history.

Here it is:

Dialogue Hook Example in Literature

– Why did you do it? – I don't know anymore… That's why I'm leaving for a little bit right now. I need time to think.

With these words, Anna stepped back into the train car and waved goodbye to Trevor. She couldn’t even find the right words to explain why she ran away on her wedding day. It wasn’t that she didn’t love Trevor, but there was this deep, natural, and unexplored feeling that told her it wasn’t time yet. But the only thing Anna realized was that the city made her sick. That day, she took off her wedding dress, bought a ticket on the next flight leaving that afternoon, and hopped on the train taking her to the airport. She couldn’t even remember the country’s name she was going to so blurry everything was from her tears.

Dialogue Hook for History Essay

– If we still had inquisition, we could probably set him on fire. – Some dark magic, indeed, my friend! It would have probably been a real dialogue if we knew who was the first automobile inventor for sure. People were undoubtedly shocked to see the cars moving by themselves without horses. However, since they started appearing around the globe around the same time, it is almost impossible to identify who was the original creator of the idea and the first automobile itself. The credit was usually given to Karl Benz from Germany, who created a gasoline car in 1885-1886. But there are also much earlier records of a gentleman named Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, who built the first vehicle powered by steam in France in 1769.

🔮 A Story Looks Like an Extremely Good Essay Hook

A universal essay hook is a story. You can use this trick pretty much anywhere. The main challenge is to be as authentic as possible, try to tell something fresh and engaging. The more specific and narrow the story, the more chances for a successful introduction.

Story Hook Example for an Essay on Business

Dell started fast and strong. The original company was founded in 1984 when the founder was only a 19-year-old student at the University of Texas. Four years after the inception of the company, Michael Dell became the Entrepreneur of the Year. Eight years after he started the company from his dorm room's comfort, Dell was chosen as the Man of the Year by PC Magazine. […] The company was acknowledged as the world's leading direct marketer of personal computers. At the same time, Dell was known as one of the top five PC vendors on the planet (Hunger 9). […] However, the company's journey encountered a major hurdle down the road. Even after recovering from an economic recession in 2010, the company continued to experience declining sales.

Continue reading Dell Technologies Mission, Vision, and Values .

🦚 Contradictory Statement – Queen of Good Hooks

Everybody loves to start an argument by contradicting some facts. Therefore, you simply need to add a controversial statement at the beginning of your essay. People of all ages and beliefs will not be able to stop reading it!

Challenging your readers works well for social sciences, business, and psychology topics.

Examples of contradictory statements essay hooks:

If you think being a manager is a calm and relatively easy task, try surviving on five cups of coffee, a sandwich, and two packs of cigarettes a day. You would rather believe that managers only walk around the office and give their staff orders, wouldn't you? Unfortunately, the reality is much harsher than such rainbowy dreams. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. A whole set of personal qualities and professional skills must keep up with the successful strategic planning, assessment, and development. All the tasks the managers need to attend to are nerve-wracking and sometimes almost impossible to do. The stress from the demanding managerial position is often overlooked or underestimated.

Social sciences

Video games have been ruining our kids' lives and leading to an increase in crime. Since the gaming industry's development in recent years, the fear of its adverse effects on the younger generations' brains has become a significant concern. There is such a wide variety of games, ranging from educational to violent shooters and horrors. Almost immediately, caring parents jumped on the latter category, claiming that its impact is too significant and children become more aggressive and uncontrollable. Some supporters of this theory went even further. They decided to link real-life crimes to the effects of violent video games on child and adult behavior. However, as we will see later in this article, there is no or little scientific evidence supporting those ideas.

🔁 Vivid Comparison Essay Hook

Introducing your topic with an engaging, vivid comparison is a universal strategy. It is suitable for any kind of writing. The main idea is to grab your readers’ attention by showing them your unique perspective on the topic. Try to make the comparison amusing and exciting.

Comparison Essay Hook Options:

  • Comparison with daily chores (e.g., Proofreading your essays is like cleaning your teeth.)
  • Comparison with something everyone hates (e.g., Learning grammar is like going to the dentist.)
  • Comparison with something everyone loves (e.g., John was happy like a child eating a free vanilla ice cream.)
  • Comparison of modern and old-school phenomena (e.g., Modern email has much in common with pigeon post.)
  • Funny comparison (e.g., Justin Bieber is the Michael Jackson of his time)

Check out examples:

Environment

For many people, flying feels like a dream come true. More and more people take their first-ever flight thanks to the rapidly developing aviation technologies. Aircraft and airports are advancing, and air traveling is getting cheaper. However, except for transporting eager travel addicted and business people, planes are used in other ways. It appears that the whole economies across the world depend on the effectiveness and efficiency of airlines. Import and export demand this kind of transportation to work at all times. Aviation development seems like a great thing. However, just like any other technological breakthrough, it comes with a price. Environmental issues did not wait too long to show up.

Social sciences/psychology

Leaving home for the first time as a freshman can only be compared to the level of stress you had in childhood when your mother left you in the line at the checkout for too long. Indeed, becoming a student and moving out of the parent's house comes with a great deal of stress. All the unknown that lies ahead makes youngsters too anxious. Then, the difficulties of financial planning and increased academic pressure come as additional sources of worries. However, it does not have to be such a negative experience. Particular techniques can help students overcome their stress related to the separation from their parents.

📄 Definitions = Easy & Good Hooks for Essays

Another versatile essay hook option is introducing a qualitative definition. Try to make it capacious, and don’t fall into verbal jungles. This narrative hook is perfect for short scientific papers where there is only one focus subject.

Business Ethics

White-collar crime refers to the peaceful offense committed with the intention of gaining unlawful monetary benefits. There are several white-collar crimes that can be executed. They include extortion, insider trading, money laundering, racketeering, securities fraud, and tax evasion. Enron Company was an American based energy company. It was the largest supplier of natural gas in America in the early 1990s. The company had a stunning performance in the 1990s. Despite the excellent performance, stakeholders of the company were concerned about the complexity of the financial statements. The company's management used the complex nature of the financial statements and the accounting standards' weaknesses to manipulate the financial records. The white-collar crime was characterized by inflating the asset values, overstating the reported cash flow, and failure to disclose the financial records' liabilities. This paper carries out an analysis of the Enron scandal as an example of white-collar crime as discussed in the video, The Smartest Guys in the Room.

Go to see the full text here: Enron Company’s Business Ethics .

Motivation is the act of influencing someone to take any action to achieve a particular goal (Montana& Chanov, 2008). Employees' motivation depends on the job's nature, the company's organizational culture, and personal characteristics. In this case study, various theories influence and show how employees can be motivated in the workplace.

Continue reading this paper about Motivation Role in Management .

📚 Metaphor Hook for Essays

Naturally, using a metaphor as a hook for your essay comes with some limitations. You should only use this type in literature and sometimes in psychology. However, it serves as a great attention grabber if it’s engaging enough.

Let’s see how you can use a metaphor:

When life gives you dirt, don't try to squeeze the juice out of it. It's better to leave it alone and let it dry out a bit. Kate decided to follow this philosophy since nothing else seemed to work. After the painful divorce process, last week's ridiculous work assignments and managing two kids alone almost drove her crazy. No polite discussions, arguing, or bribing helped take care of seemingly a million tasks these little women had to deal with. Even letting out the anger just like her phycologist recommended did not help much. Instead, Kate referred to the last remedy. She put all the issues aside with the hope that it would get better later.

The recipe is relatively easy – take a cup of self-respect, two cups of unconditional love, half a cup of good health, a pinch of new positive experiences, and mix it all for a perfect state of happiness! We all wish it would be possible, right? However, the mystery of this state of being happy is still unsolved. The concept and its perception considerably change depending on time and values. Happiness is so complicated that there is even no universal definition of it. Besides, humans are social creatures, so associating your level of success with others is not unusual. Therefore, being happy means achieving a certain level of several aspects.

🧩 Puzzle? Yes! Amazing Hook for Your Essay

Doesn’t a good riddle grab your attention? Sometimes you just want to find out the answer. The other times, you want to figure out how it is related to the topic. Such a hook would be great for writings on psychology and even economics or business.

Here are the examples:

How many Google office employees you need to destroy a box of fresh donuts? Google is indeed famous for some of the most accommodating and unique working places around the whole world. However, the success of the company does not only appear from treats for employees. It seems that the organizational culture has many effects on business decisions and overall performance. All the staff working in Google share the same visions and values, helping them cooperate and lead the company to success. However, there is one aspect to consider. The organizational culture needs to be adapted to the ever-changing business environment.

Who survives on dirt-like substance, is never joyful, and only returns to the cave to sleep? It sounds horrible, but the correct answer is human. Nowadays, the demands for any kind of workers are rising, which brings tremendous effects on people. As the number of duties increases, it is getting harder for employees not to chug on coffee and come back home in time for a family dinner. The work-life balance is disturbed, leading to anxiety, relationship issues, and even health problems. Social life appears to be as important as making money. Therefore, the correct distribution of time between personal life and work duties is necessary for happiness.

📢 Announcement Is Also a Good Essay Hook Option

Announcements could be suitable for literary pieces and historical essays.

Such a hook doesn’t have to be too long. It should be significant enough to persuade your readers to stick to your writing. Make sure it aligns with your topic as well.

Ways to use announcements as essay hooks:

It was a revolution! The Beatle's first song came out in 1962, and almost immediately, hordes of fans pledged their loyalty to this new band. Nearly all youngsters became obsessed with their music. No one can deny that the Beatles are still considered the creators of some of the best songs in history. However, the arrival of the British band influences culture as well. Many photos depict girls going crazy on live concerts and guys shaping their haircuts after the Beatles' members. The revolution that the band brought left an impact, evidence that we can still trace in modern British culture and music.

I will never go to Starbucks again! Oh, no, mind me. I love their coffee. At some point in my life, I even thought I had an addiction and had to ask my friends to watch my consumption of Pumpkin Spice Latte. Then, the wind of change turned everything upside down. On my usual Starbucks morning run, I noticed a homeless man holding a paper cup begging for money. At first, I didn't pay much attention since it's a usual occurrence in our area. However, one day, I recognized my old neighbor in him. The only cash I had on me, I usually spent on my cup of coffee, but I decided it was not much of a sacrifice. From that moment, I only showed up on that street to shove a few bucks into that poor guy's cup. One day, to my surprise, he talked to me.

ℹ️ Background Information Essay Hook

Last but not least, give background information on your subject to make a good intro. Such an essay hook is effortless and suitable for practically any paper. Try to find the most unobvious angle to the background information. At the same time, keep it short and substantive.

Here are the ways to use background information essay hooks:

Air Arabia is among the leading low-cost carriers in the global airline industry. The airline is mainly based at the Sharjah International Airport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (Air Arabia, 2012). The airline came into inception in 2003 after His Highness Dr. Sheik Mohammed Al Qassimi, the Ruler of Sharjah, issued an Emiri Decree. Later, Air Arabia was transformed into a limited liability company. For nearly a decade, Air Arabia has witnessed tremendous growth, resulting in increased fleet size and improved sales revenues. At the same time, Air Arabia has created a renowned brand that offers reliable and safe services (Dubai Media Incorporated, 2012). Air Arabia identifies itself as a low-cost carrier by providing low fares in the industry. Some of the key strengths of the airline include punctuality and safety. This aims to ensure that the airline serves its customers most efficiently by observing its safety requirements and adhering to the landing and takeoff schedules (De Kluyver, 2010).

Read the full text here: Air Arabia Company Analysis.

Walmart was founded by Sam Walton in the Arkansas United States in 1962 as a grocery store. The company, which operates a chain of over 8,000 stores in fifteen countries, is estimated to employ over two million employees from diverse backgrounds. Wal-Mart was incorporated in 1969 and started trading in the New York Stock Exchange in 1972. […] Although the company can leave its consumers with a saving due to its low-price policy, it has faced some sharp criticisms over how it treats its employees and other stakeholders. Wal-Mart boasts of its ability to save its customers' money, an average of $950 per year. This, however, has been criticized as harming the community. Also, the feminists' activists have focused on Walmart's misconduct in offering low prices. (Fraedrich, Ferrell & Ferrell 440)

Now we won’t keep you for long. Let’s just go through simple points of essay hook writing.

Someone may think that you have to write your hook first. It comes first in the paper, right?

In reality, though, you can wait until your entire essay is nearly finished. Then go back and rewrite the very first paragraph. This way, you can have a fresh look at what you’ve written in the beginning.

Here’s a simple plan you can follow.

  • First, write a basic version of your thesis statement.
  • Then, provide supporting evidence for your thesis in every body paragraph.
  • After that, reword your thesis statement and write your concluding paragraph.
  • Finally, search for an attention-grabbing fact, statistic, or anything from the list above to serve as an engaging essay hook.

Add this essay hook to the beginning of your introduction. Make sure that your ideas still flow naturally into your thesis statement.

⚠️ Pro tip: choose various hooks and play around, adding each hook to your introduction paragraph. Like this, you can determine which one makes the most impressive beginning to your paper.

Some of your choices may sound interesting but may not lead to your essay’s main point. Don’t panic! Paper writing always involves trial and error. Just keep trying your essay hook ideas until one fits perfectly.

That’s it 😊

Good luck with your work!

🔗 References

  • Hook – Examples and Definition of Hook
  • How to Engage the Reader in the Opening Paragraph – BBC
  • Hooks and Attention Grabbers; George Brown College Writing Centre
  • Hook Examples and Definition; Literary Devices
  • What Is a Narrative Hook? Video
  • How to: Writing Hooks or Attention-Getting Openings-YouTube

Research Paper Analysis: How to Analyze a Research Article + Example

Film analysis: example, format, and outline + topics & prompts.

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73 Essay Hook Examples

essay hook examples and definition, explained below

An essay hook is the first one or two sentences of your essay that are used to grab the reader’s attention and draw them into your discussion.

It is called a hook because it “grabs” the reader and doesn’t let them go! It should have something in there that makes the reader feel curious and intrigued, compelling them to continue reading.

Techniques for Good Essay Hooks

Here are a few techniques that you can use to write a good essay hook:

  • Use a Quotation : Sometimes, a relevant quotation from a well-known author or expert can help establish the context or theme of your essay. Next time you’re conducting research for an essay, keep an eye out for a really compelling quote that you could use as your hook for that essay.
  • Start with a Statement that is Surprising or Unusual: A surprising or unusually statement will draw a reader in, making them want to know more about that topic. It’s good if the statement contradicts common knowledge or reveals an insight about your topic that isn’t immediately obvious. These can be particularly good for argumentative essays where you’re putting forward a controversial or compelling argument as your thesis statement .
  • Tell a Brief Anecdote : A short, interesting story related to your topic can personaize the story, making it more than just a dry essay, and turning it into a compelling narrative that’s worth reading.
  • Use Statistics or Facts: Interesting, surprising, or shocking facts or statistics work similarly to surprising statements: they make us want to know more about a topic. Statistics and facts in your introductions are particularly useful for analytical, expository , and argumentative essays.
  • Start with a Question: Questions that make the reader think deeply about an issue, or pose a question that the reader themselves has considered, can be really effecitve. But remember, questions tend to be better for informal and personal essays, and are generally not allowed in formal argumentative essays. If you’re not sure if you’re allowed to use questions in your essays, check with your teacher first.

Below, I’ll present some examples of hooks that you could use as inspiration when writing your own essay hook.

Essay Hook Examples

These examples might help stimulate your thinking. However, keep in mind that your essay hook needs to be unique to your essay, so use these as inspiration but write your own essay hook that’s perfect for your own essay.

1. For an Essay About Yourself

An essay about yourself can be personal, use “I” statements, and include memories or thoughts that are deeply personal to you.

  • Question: “Have you ever met someone who could turn even the most mundane events into a thrilling adventure? Let me introduce myself.”
  • Anecdote: “The smell of freshly baked cookies always takes me back to the day when I accidentally started a baking business at the age of nine.”
  • Intriguing Statement: “I’ve always believed that you haven’t truly lived until you’ve read a book upside down, danced in the rain, or taught a parrot to say ‘I love pizza.'”
  • Quotation: “As Mark Twain once said, ‘The secret of getting ahead is getting started.’ That’s a philosophy I’ve embraced in every aspect of my life.”
  • Humorous Statement: “I’m a self-proclaimed ‘professional chocolate tester’ – a title that’s not only delicious but also requires extreme dedication.”
  • Start with your Mission Statement : “My life motto is simple but powerful: be the person who decided to go for it.
  • Fact or Statistic: “According to a study, people who speak more than one language tend to be better at multitasking . As a polyglot, I certainly live up to that statistic.”
  • Comparison or Metaphor: “If my life were a book, it would be a blend of an adventurous novel, a suspense thriller, and a pinch of romantic comedy.”
  • Personal Revelation: “Ever since I was a child, I’ve had an uncanny ability to communicate with animals. It’s an unusual skill, but one that has shaped my life in many ways.”
  • Narrative: “The day everything changed for me was an ordinary Tuesday. Little did I know, a single conversation would lead me to discover my true passion.”

2. For a Reflective Essay

A reflective essay often explores personal experiences, feelings, and thoughts. So, your hooks for reflective essays can usually be more personal, intriguing, and engaging than other types of essays. Here are some examples for inspiration:

  • Question: “Have you ever felt as though a single moment could change your entire life? This essay is going to explore that moment for me.”
  • Anecdote: “I was standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, looking at the vast emptiness, and for the first time, I truly understood the word ‘perspective’.”
  • Bold Statement: “There is a part of me that is still trapped in that room, on that rainy afternoon, holding the letter that would change everything.”
  • Personal Revelation: “The first time I truly felt a sense of belonging wasn’t in a crowded room full of friends, but in the quiet solitude of a forest.”
  • Intriguing Statement: “In my life, silence has been a teacher more profound than any words could ever be.”
  • Quotation: “Einstein once said, ‘The only source of knowledge is experience.’ Now, looking back, I realize how profound that statement truly is.”
  • Comparison or Metaphor: “If my life is a tapestry, then that summer was the vibrant thread that changed the entire pattern.”
  • Narrative: “As the train pulled out of the station, I realized I wasn’t just leaving my hometown, I was leaving my old self behind.”
  • Philosophical Statement: “In the theater of life, we are both the actor and the audience, playing our part and watching ourselves simultaneously.”
  • Emotive Statement: “There is a sort of sweet sorrow in remembering, a joy tinged with a hint of sadness, like the last notes of a beautiful song.”

For an Argumentative Essay

Essay hooks for argumentative essays are often the hardest. This type of essay tends to require the most formal type of academic writing, meaning your hook shouldn’t use first person, and should be more based on fact and objectivity, often at the expense of creativity. Here are some examples.

  • Quotation: “Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.’ If Jefferson were alive today, he would likely feel that this meed for a well-informed citizenry is falling well short of where he would aspire.”
  • Provocative Statement: “Despite what romantic films may portray, love at first sight is merely a myth perpetuated by society. This essay will prosecute the argument that love at first sight is a myth.”
  • Statistical Fact: “According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading psychological disability worldwide. Yet, mental health is still stigmatized and often overlooked. This essay will argue that depression should be seen as a health issue, and stigmatization of depression causes serious harm to society.”
  • Comparison: “Much like an unchecked infection, climate change, if left ignored, can spread far beyond what it is today, causing long-term economic and social problems that may even threaten the longevity of humanity itself.”
  • Contradiction : “While we live in an era of unprecedented technological advancements, millions around the world are still denied basic internet access.”
  • Bold Declaration: “Animal testing is not only ethically unacceptable, but it also undermines the progress of medical research.”
  • Challenging Belief: “Despite popular belief, the automation of jobs is not a threat but an opportunity for society to evolve.”
  • Quotation: “George Orwell wrote in ‘1984’, ‘Big Brother is Watching You.’ In our modern society, with the advancement of technology, this is becoming more of a reality than fiction.”
  • Intriguing Statement: “Despite countless diet fads and fitness trends, obesity rates continue to rise. This argumentative essay will argue that this is because medical practitioners’ approaches to health and weight loss are fundamentally flawed.”
  • Statistical Fact: “Research reveals that over 90% of the world’s plastic waste is not recycled. This alarming figure calls for a drastic change in social attitudes towards consumption and waste management.”
  • Challenging Assumption: “Society often assumes that progress and growth are intrinsically good, but this is not always the case in the realm of economic development.”
  • Contradiction: “Western society upholds the value of freedom, yet every day, members of society cede personal liberties in the name of convenience and security.”
  • Analogy: “Like an overplayed song, when a news story is repeated too often, it loses its impact. In the era of digital media, society is becoming desensitized to critical issues.”
  • Relevant Anecdote: “In a village in India, the arrival of a single computer transformed the lives of the residents. This small anecdote underscores the importance of digital inclusion in today’s world.”
  • Call to Rethink: “In a world where success is often equated with financial wealth, it is time for society to reconsidered what truly constitutes a successful life.”

For a Compare and Contrast Essay

A compare and contrast essay examines two issues, looking at both the similarities and differences between them. A good hook for a compare and contrast essay will immediately signal to the reader the subjects that are being compared and why they’re being compared. Here are sine ideas for hooks for a compare and contrast essay:

  • Quotation: “As Charles Dickens wrote in his novel ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’. This could equally apply to the contrasting dynamics of urban and rural living.”
  • Provocative Statement: “Despite popular belief, cats and dogs have more in common than society tends to think.”
  • Comparison: “Comparing being an only child to growing up with siblings is like contrasting a solo performance with an orchestral symphony.”
  • Contradiction: “While many view classic literature and contemporary fiction as worlds apart, they are more akin to two sides of the same coin.”
  • Bold Declaration: “Android and iPhone may compete in the same market, but their philosophies could not be more different.”
  • Statistical Fact: “Statistics show that children who grow up reading books tend to perform better academically than those who do not. But, the jury is out on how reading traditional books compares to reading e-books on screens.”
  • Quotation: “As Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote, ‘Sooner or later, we all sit down to a banquet of consequences.’ This statement can be used to frame a comparison between short-term and long-term thinking.”
  • Provocative Statement: “Democracy and dictatorship are often seen as polar opposites, but are they are not as different as they seem.”
  • Comparison: “Climate change and plastic pollution are two major environmental issues, yet they demand different approaches and solutions.”
  • Contradiction: “While traditional classrooms and online learning are seen as separate modes of education, they can often blend into a cohesive learning experience.”
  • Bold Declaration: “Though both based on merit, the structures of capitalism and socialism lead to vastly different societal outcomes.”
  • Imagery: “The painting styles of Van Gogh and Monet can be contrasted as a stormy sea versus a tranquil pond.”
  • Historical Reference: “The philosophies of the Cold War-era – capitalism and communism – provide a lens to contrast economic systems.”
  • Literary Comparison: “The dystopian societies portrayed in George Orwell’s ‘1984’ and Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ serve as contrasting visions of the future.”
  • Philosophical Question: “Individualism and collectivism shape societies in distinct ways, but neither one can truly exist without the other.”

See Here for my Guide on Writing a Compare and Contrast Essay

For a Psychology Essay

Writing an engaging hook for a psychology essay involves sparking the reader’s interest in the human mind, behavior, or the specific psychology topic you’re discussing. Here are some stimulating hooks for a psychology essay:

  • Rhetorical Question: “How much control do we truly have over our own actions?”
  • Quotation: “Sigmund Freud once said, ‘Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.’ This essay will explore whether this is universally true.”
  • Provocative Statement: “Contrary to popular belief, ‘venting out’ anger might actually be fueling the fire of fury.”
  • Comparison: “Just as an iceberg reveals only a fraction of its bulk above water, conscious minds may only be a small piece of who humans truly are.”
  • Contradiction: “While it may seem counterintuitive, studies show that individuals who are more intelligent are also more likely to suffer from mental health issues.”
  • Bold Declaration: “Despite advances in technology, understanding the human brain remains one of the final frontiers in science.”
  • Statistical Fact: “According to a study by the American Psychological Association, nearly one in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness. Yet, mental health continues to be a topic shrouded in stigma.”

For a Sociology Essay

Writing an engaging hook for a sociology essay involves sparking the reader’s interest in social behaviors, cultural phenomena, or the specific sociology topic you’re discussing. Here are ideas for hooks for a sociology essay:

  • Quotation: “As Karl Marx once noted, ‘Social progress can be measured exactly by the social position of the fair sex.’ Sadly, society has not made much progress in gender equality.”
  • Provocative Statement: “Social media, initially created to connect people, is ironically leading society into an era of unprecedented isolation.”
  • Comparison: “Comparing society to a theater, where each individual plays a role, it is possible to start to see patterns and scripts embedded in daily interactions.”
  • Contradiction: “While people often believe that technology is bringing society closer together, evidence suggests that it’s actually driving a wedge between people, creating ‘digital divides’.”
  • Bold Declaration: “Human societies are constructed on deeply ingrained systems of inequality, often invisible to those benefiting from them.”
  • Statistical Fact: “A recent study found that women still earn only 81 cents for every dollar earned by men. This stark wage gap raises questions about equality in the workforce.”

For a College Application Essay

A college essay is a personal statement where you can showcase who you are beyond your grades and resume. It’s your chance to tell your unique story. Here are ten potential hooks for a college essay:

  • Anecdote: “At the age of seven, with a wooden spoon as my baton, I confidently conducted an orchestra of pots and pans in my grandmother’s kitchen.”
  • Provocative Statement: “I believe that life is like a game of chess. The king might be the most important piece, but it’s the pawns that can change the entire course of the game.”
  • Personal Revelation: “It wasn’t until I was lost in a foreign city, armed with nothing but a map in a language I didn’t understand, that I truly discovered my love for adventure.”
  • Intriguing Question: “Have you ever wondered how it feels to be part of two completely different cultures, yet wholly belong to neither?”
  • Bold Declaration: “Breaking a bone can be a painful experience. Breaking stereotypes, however, is an entirely different kind of challenge.”
  • Unusual Fact: “I can recite the periodic table backwards while juggling three tennis balls. It’s a strange talent, but it’s a perfect metaphor for how I tackle challenges.”
  • Quotation: “As Albert Einstein once said, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ This quote has defined my approach to learning.”
  • Narrative: “It was a cold winter’s day when I first discovered the magic of turning a blank page into a world full of characters, stories, and ideas.”
  • Metaphor: “Like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, my high school years have been a period of profound metamorphosis.”
  • Humorous Statement: “Being the youngest of five siblings, I quickly learned that the best way to be heard was to become the family’s unofficial lawyer.”

Conclusion: The Qualities of a Good Essay Hook

As I wrap up this article, I want to share a few last tips on qualities that a good essay hook should have. Keep these tips in mind when writing your essay hook and using the above essay hook examples:

First, relevance . A good hook should be directly relevant to the topic or theme of your essay. The hook should provide a preview of what’s to come without giving too much away.

Second, Intrigue. A great hook should make the reader want to continue reading. It should create a question in the reader’s mind or present a fascinating idea that they want to know more about.

Third, uniqueness. An effective hook should be original and unique. It should stand out from the many other essays that the reader might be going through.

Fourth, clarity. Even though a hook should be captivating and original, it should also be clear and easy to understand. Avoid complex sentences and jargon that might confuse the reader.

Fifth, genre conventions. Too often, my students try to be so creative in their essay hooks that they forget genre conventions . The more formal an essay, the harder it is to write the hook. My general approach is to focus on statistics and facts, and avoid rhetorical questions , with more formal essay hooks.

Keep in mind that you should run your essay hook by your teacher by showing them your first draft before you submit your essay for grading. This will help you to make sure it follows genre conventions and is well-written.

Chris

Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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Science Essay

Essay About Science Fiction

Betty P.

Science Fiction Essay: Examples & Easy Steps Guide

Published on: Dec 16, 2022

Last updated on: Oct 15, 2023

Essay About Science Fiction

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Whether you are a science or literature student, you have one task in common:

Writing an essay about science fiction!

Writing essays can be hard, but writing about science fiction can be even harder. How do you write an essay about something so diverse and deep? And where do you even start?

In this guide, we will discuss what science fiction is and how to write an essay about it. You will also get possible topics and example essays to help get your creative juices flowing.

So read on for all the information you need to ace that science fiction essay.

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What Is Science Fiction?

Science fiction is a genre of literature that often explores the potential consequences of scientific, social, and technological innovations. These might affect individuals, societies, or even the entire human race in the story.

The central conflict in many science fiction stories takes place within the individual human mind, addressing questions about the nature of reality itself. 

It often follows themes of exploration, speculation, and adventure. Science fiction is popular in novels, films, television, and other media.

At its core, science fiction uses scientific concepts to explore the human condition or to create alternate realities. It often asks questions about the nature of reality, morality, and ethics in light of scientific advancements.

Now that we understand what science fiction is let's see some best essays on science fiction!

What Is a Science Fiction Essay?

Science fiction essays are written in response to a specific prompt, often focusing on a particular theme or idea. 

They can be either creative pieces of writing or analytical works that examine the genre and its various elements.

It is different from a science essay , which discusses scientific topics in detail. 

Science fiction essay aims to explore the implications of science fiction themes for our understanding of science and reality.

For science students, writing about science fiction can be useful to enhance their scientific curiosity and creativity.

Literature students get to write these essays a lot. So it is useful for them to be aware of some major scientific concepts and discoveries.

Here’s a video about what is science fiction:

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Science Fiction Essay Examples

It can be helpful to look at examples when you're learning how to write an essay. 

Here are some sample science fiction essay PDF examples:

Essay on Science Fiction Literature Example

Example Essay About Science Fiction

Short Essay About Science Fiction - Example Essay

Science Fiction Short Story Example

How to Start a Science Fiction Essay

Le Guin Science Fiction Essay

Pessimism In Science Fiction

Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Peculiarities Of Science Fiction Films

Essay on Science Fiction Movies

Looking for range of science essays? Here is a blog with some flawless science essay examples .

How to Write an Essay About Science Fiction?

Writing an essay on science fiction can be fun and exciting. It gives you the opportunity to explore new ideas and worlds.

Here are a few key steps you should follow for science fiction essay writing.

Know What Kind of Essay To Write

Science fiction essays can be descriptive, analytical, or exploratory. Always check with your instructor what kind of essay they want you to write.

For instance, a descriptive science fiction essay topic may describe the story of your favorite sci-fi novel or tv series.

Similarly, an analytical essay might require you to analyze a concept (e.g., time travel) in the light of science fiction literature.

On the other hand, explanatory essays require you to go beyond the literature to explore its background, influence, cultural impact, etc.

So different types of essays require different types of topics and writing styles. So it is important to know the type and purpose of your science fiction essay.

Find an Interesting Topic

There is a lot of science fiction out there. Find a movie, novel, or science fiction concept you want to discuss.

Think about what themes, messages, and ideas you want to explore. Look for interesting topics that can help make your essay stand out.

You can find a good topic by brainstorming the concepts or ideas that you find interesting. For instance, do you like the idea of traveling to the past or visiting futuristic worlds?

You'll find some great science fiction topics about the ideas you like to explore.

Do Some Research

Read more about the topic or idea you have selected.

Read articles, reviews, research papers, and talk to people who know science fiction. Get a better understanding of the idea you want to explore before diving in.

When doing research, take notes and keep track of sources. This will come in handy when you start writing your essay.

Organize Your Essay Outline

Now that you have done your research and have a good understanding of the topic, it's time to create an outline.

An outline will help you organize your thoughts and make sure all parts of your essay fit together. Your outline should include a thesis statement , supporting evidence, and a conclusion.

Once the outline is complete, start writing your essay.

Start Writing Your First Draft

Start your first draft by writing the introduction. Include a hook , provide background information, and identify your thesis statement.

Here is an example of a hook for a science fiction essay:

Your introduction should be catchy and interesting. But it also needs to show what the essay is about clearly.

Afterward, write your body paragraphs. In these paragraphs, you should provide supporting evidence for your main thesis statement. This could include quotes from books, films, or other related sources. Make sure you also cite any sources you use to avoid plagiarism.

Finally, conclude your essay with a summary of your main points and any final thoughts. Your science fiction essay conclusion should tie everything together and leave the reader with something to think about.

Edit and Proofread

Once your first draft is complete, it's time to edit and proofread.

Edit for any grammar mistakes, typos, or errors in facts. Check for sentence structure and make sure all your points are supported with evidence.

After that, read through your essay to check for flow and clarity. Make sure the essay is easy to understand and flows well from one point to the next.

Finally, make sure that the science fiction essay format is followed. Your instructor will provide you with specific formatting instructions. These will include font style, page settings, and heading styles. So make sure to format your essay accordingly.

Once you're happy with your final draft, submit your essay with confidence. With these steps, you'll surely write a great essay on science fiction!

Read on to check out some interesting topics, essay examples, and tips!

Science Fiction Essay Topics

Finding a topic for your science fiction essay is a difficult part. You need to find something that is interesting as well as relatable. 

That is why we have collected a list of good topics to help you brainstorm more ideas. You can create a topic similar to these or choose one from here. 

Here are some possible essay topics about science fiction:

  • The Evolution of Science Fiction
  • The Impact of Science Fiction on Society
  • The Relationship Between Science and Science Fiction
  • Discuss the Different Subgenres of Science Fiction
  • The Influence of Science Fiction on Pop Culture
  • The Role of Women in Science Fiction
  • Describe Your Favorite Sci-Fi Novel or Film
  • The Relationship Between Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • Discuss the Major Themes of Your Favorite Science Fiction Story
  • Explore the themes of identity in sci-fi films

Need prompts for your next science essay? Check out our 150+ science essay topics blog!

Science Fiction Essay Questions 

Explore thought-provoking themes with these science fiction essay questions. From futuristic technology to extraterrestrial encounters, these prompts will ignite your creativity and critical thinking skills.

  • How does sci-fi depict AI's societal influence?
  • What ethical issues arise in genetic engineering in sci-fi?
  • How have alien civilizations evolved in the genre?
  • What's the contemporary relevance of dystopian themes in sci-fi?
  • How do time travel narratives handle causality?
  • What role does climate change play in science fiction?
  • Ethical considerations of human augmentation in sci-fi?
  • How does gender feature in future societies in sci-fi?
  • What social commentary is embedded in sci-fi narratives?
  • Themes of space exploration in sci-fi?

Science Fiction Essay Tips

So you've been assigned a science fiction essay. Whether you're a fan of the genre or not, this essay can be daunting.

But don't fear!

Here are some helpful tips to get you started on writing a science fiction essay that will impress your teacher and guarantee you a top grade.

Choose a Topic That Interests You

When it comes to writing a science fiction essay, it’s important to choose a topic that interests you. 

Not only will this make the writing process more enjoyable, but it will also ensure that your essay is more engaging for the reader. 

If you’re not sure what topic to write about, try brainstorming a few science fiction essay ideas until you find one that feels right.

Make Sure Your Essay is Well-Organized

Another important tip for writing a science fiction essay is to make sure that your essay is well-organized. 

This means having a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. It also means ensuring that each paragraph flows smoothly into the next. 

If your essay is disorganized or difficult to follow, chances are the reader will lose interest quickly.

Use Strong Verbs

When writing any type of essay, it’s important to use strong verbs. However, this is especially true when writing a science fiction essay.

Using strong verbs will help add excitement and energy to your writing, making it more engaging for the reader. Some examples of strong verbs include “discover,” “create,” and “explore.”

Be Creative

One of the best things about writing a science fiction essay is that you have the opportunity to be creative. This means thinking outside the box and coming up with new and innovative ideas.

If you’re struggling to be creative, try brainstorming with someone else or looking at other essays for inspiration. 

Use Quotes Appropriately

While quotes can be helpful in supporting your argument, it’s important not to rely on them too heavily in your essay.

If you find yourself using too many quotes, chances are you’re not doing enough of your own thinking and analysis. 

Instead of relying on quotes, try to paraphrase or summarize the main points from other sources.

To conclude the blog,

Writing a science fiction essay doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With these steps, examples, and tips, you can be sure to write an essay that will impress your teacher and guarantee you a top grade. 

Whether it’s an essay about science fiction movies or novels, you can ace it with these steps! Remember, the key is to be creative and organized in your writing!

Don't have time to write your essay? 

Don't stress! Leave it to us! Our science essay writing service is here to help! 

Contact the team of experts at our best essay writing service . We can help you write a creative, well-organized, and engaging essay for the reader. We provide free revisions and other exclusive perks!

Moreover, our AI-based essay typer will provide sample essays for you completely free! Try it out today! 

Have questions? Ask our 24/7 customer support!

Betty P. (Natural Sciences, Life Sciences)

Betty is a freelance writer and researcher. She has a Masters in literature and enjoys providing writing services to her clients. Betty is an avid reader and loves learning new things. She has provided writing services to clients from all academic levels and related academic fields.

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101 Epic Sci-Fi Story Prompts

science fiction hooks for essays

Do you want to write in the sci-fi genre but need help conjuring compelling stories and concepts? Sometimes reading simple genre prompts is the easiest way to get those creative juices flowing.

Read ScreenCraft's 7 Writing Workouts to Build Your Creative Muscles !

We get our ideas from many sources — news headlines, novels, television shows, movies, our lives, our fears, our phobias, etc. They can come from a scene or moment in a film that wasn’t fully explored. They can come from a single visual that entices the creative mind — a seed that continues to grow and grow until the writer is forced to finally put it to paper or screen.

In the spirit of helping writers find those seeds, here we offer 101 originally conceived sci-fi story prompts that you can use as inspiration for your next science fiction story.

They may inspire screenplays, novels, short stories, or even smaller moments that you can include in what stories you are already writing.

Note: Because we’re all connected to the same pop culture, news headlines, and inspirations, any similarity to any past, present, or future screenplays, novels, short stories, television pilots, television series, plays, or any other creative works is purely coincidence. These story writing prompts were conceived on the fly without any research or Google search for inspiration.

Read More: The Biggest and Baddest "Big Bads" of Sci-Fi & Fantasy

1. What if the sun began to die, and surviving humans traveled back into time to survive? 

2. What if the sun began to die, and surviving humans traveled to another dimension to survive?

3. A scientist clones his family that died in an airplane crash — but soon learns the repercussions of playing God.

4. Earth suffers a planet-wide EMP surge, and all technology is lost forever.

5. An astronaut and cosmonaut are on the International Space Station when their countries go to Nuclear War with each other. Their last orders are to eliminate the other.

6. An astronaut jettisoned into the cold of space in a mission gone wrong suddenly appears at the doorstep of his family.

7. Someone discovers that we are all actually robots — who created us and why?

8. An astronaut is the sole survivor of a moon landing gone wrong — only to discover that the moon is infested with strange creatures.

9. An Artificial Intelligence begins to communicate with a family online to terrorize them through their technology.

10. Years after the zombie apocalypse subsides, survivors discover that the epidemic was caused by aliens that have appeared to lay claim to the planet.

11. A woman has memories of being abducted by aliens — but she soon learns that they weren’t aliens. They were ____. 

12. A town is enveloped in unexplained darkness for weeks.

13. An alien invasion was actually meant to stop humans from destroying themselves.

14. Technology was a test given to us by aliens to see what we’d do with it.

15. Robots were actually here long before humans. 

16. Humans have been cloned by scientists for decades. 

17. Our reality is actually the imagination of an alien being writing a story. 

18. A tech company discovers that they can email people from the past. 

19. An underground species on Mars is discovered. 

20. Time travel is real and has been used by the government for years. 

21. A private group of scientists and historians are using time travel to create the ultimate historical record of human events. 

22. A small town in the middle of nowhere is actually a human zoo in an alien world.

23. Area 51 hides a wormhole to alien worlds.

24. Humans are actually organic robots that killed off their makers long ago.

25. A wormhole suddenly opens near Earth.

26. A newly elected President of the United States tries to find out the truth about Roswell.

27. A Star Wars fan discovers that the Star Wars universe was not a figment of George Lucas's imagination. 

28. Someone wakes up in a strange spaceship with no recollection of how they got there.

29. A stay-at-home dad discovers that he's actually a robot created by his wife. 

30. A stay-at-home dad discovers that he's actually a clone created by his original self. 

31. The first space flight to Mars discovers that the universe is not what they thought it was. 

32. A family discovers a space ship buried in their backyard. 

33. A little girl has a dream about a time travel formula and tries to bring it to scientists. 

34. Siblings discover that their nanny is an alien. 

35. Siblings discover that their nanny is a robot. 

36. Homosapiens are aliens that took over the planet. 

37. After the world is obliterated by nuclear war, alien humanoids claim it as their own. 

38. What we think are alien abductions are actually the future human race searching for a cure to a plague that is killing all humans 200 years from now. 

39. An interstellar war between alien races makes its way to Earth. 

40. A man discovers the real reason why we dream. 

41. Our dreams are actually a portal into a parallel universe. 

42. An alien poses as Christ returned, knowing that humans will follow him and his race. 

43. A woman discovers that our reality is actually a simulated game like The Sims. 

44. A group of outcast friends creates their very own robot. 

45. A space pirate crash-lands on Earth. 

46. A successful stockbroker accused of insider trading claims to be from the future. 

47. A scientist that invents time travel to travel into the future is transported into the past where technology doesn't exist. 

48. A high school student believes that his classmates are robots. 

49. A science fair team accidentally creates teleportation technology. 

50. A man that has uploaded his consciousness to a simulated reality fights to return to his real body and world.

51. A worker at a company discovers that she's actually a cyborg. 

52. An outcast nerd discovers that he's actually a revered prince from another planet, hidden by his royal family to escape an evil space lord. 

Got a script that's out of this world? The ScreenCraft Sci-Fi & Fantasy Script Competition is now open !

science fiction hooks for essays

54. An astronaut stuck in cryosleep wakes up orbiting Earth during the 1960s space race. 

55. An athlete who loses his legs in an accident creates his own cybernetic legs to compete again. 

56. The world's first cyborg super-soldier goes AWOL to experience the life of an average person. 

57. The moon is actually an alien observation space station. 

58. The moon has been a NASA space station for decades. 

59. The dark side of the moon is a Vegas-like resort for aliens. 

60. A grade school student believes her classmates are aliens. 

61. A scientist discovers that diseases are actually glitches in a computer program that is actually our simulated world. 

62. Cyberspace is actually a real living and breathing world. 

63. Humans live on a forcefield-protected island floating in space. 

64. 200 years after the world is destroyed by nuclear war, surviving humans escape their underground world to discover a new ecosystem. 

65. Humans can download any skill set into their brains. 

66. Two male and female astronauts are stranded on an alien world — their names are Adam and Eve.

67. Criminals are now shipped into space on space prison ships. 

68. A gamer learns that the soldier he is controlling is actually a real soldier in a real war. 

69. A human man and a female alien have the first interstellar child. 

70. A sadistic tormentor holds people hostage in a virtual world. 

71.  A high school genius discovers anti-gravity technology, only to be hunted down by government agents. 

72. Asteroid miners struggle to survive an accident. 

73. Asteroid miners discover an alien space ship embedded within an asteroid. 

74. A scientist creates a way to download human consciousness into a computer. 

75. A high school genius discovers cloaking technology, only to be hunted down by government agents. 

76. A man is so lost in virtual reality that he can't comprehend what is real and what isn't. 

77. Wars are fought in simulation to protect lives. 

78. A slacker high school student stumbles upon a new energy source, only to be hunted down by government agents. 

79. Astronauts are tasked with preparing an alien planet for colonization. 

80. A generational space ship finally arrives at its destination after hundreds of years. 

81. A space trucker delivering goods to a space station discovers that service robots have taken over the station. 

82. A space trucker delivering goods to a space station discovers that the station is empty. 

83. A future space pilot arrives back on Earth after a mission to find it destroyed. 

84. A future space pilot arrives back to Earth after a mission, only to discover that he has somehow traveled back in time to his childhood years. 

85. A grade school student discovers that he's actually a robot.   

86. A pilot wakes up in a ship floating within a strange organic world, only to discover that he's actually microscopic within the body of the President of the United States that he is supposed to save via nanosurgery. 

87. A teenager discovers the power to create wormholes. 

88. A strange old man that has moved next door to a kid's family is actually that kid's older self that has time-traveled back in time to revisit his childhood before his death. 

89. A group of high school friends discovers portals to the past and future and uses them to ace their history and science exams. 

90. Two versions of the same high school student from different parallel universes discover each other through a portal and decide to swap lives for one week before the portal closes for good. 

91. An astronaut wakes up from cryosleep with amnesia on a ship traveling at light speed.  

92. A female alien always looking to the stars discovers a strange single from a planet called Earth. 

93. A space crew discovers a mirror planet of Earth. 

94. A space crew discovers that the universe is actually nothing more than the imagination of an alien child. 

95. A disenchanted genetically-designed man with no flaws struggles to find a flaw as he hitchhikes across America.  

96.  A boy rescues a dog in the woods and soon discovers that it's a robot. 

97. A boy rescues a dog in the woods and soon discovers that it's an alien creature. 

98. An alien robot falls from space into the backyard of a young girl's house. 

99. Astronauts land on a possible colonization planet, only to discover a human child living alone in the wild of the alien world. 

100. Scientists travel back to the world of dinosaurs to find a long-dead plant that could save humankind from extinction. 

101. A seismologist discovers a strange human signal from deep within Earth's core. 

Share this with your writing peers or anyone that loves a good sci-fi story. Have some prompts of your own? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter !

Read ScreenCraft's 131 Sci-Fi Scripts That Screenwriters Can Download and Study !

Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.

He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries  Blackout , starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner, and the feature thriller  Hunter’s  Creed  starring Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman, Wesley Truman Daniel, Mickey O’Sullivan, John Victor Allen, and James Errico. Follow Ken on Twitter  @KenMovies

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How to Write a Hook: Top 5 Tips for Writers

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Hannah Yang

how to write a hook

How do you make people feel excited to read your work?

Well, for starters, you can write a great hook.

The “hook” refers to the first sentence, or first few sentences, of an essay, article, or story. That’s because these first few lines need to hook readers in, the same way fishermen use bait to hook fish in.

If you’re trying to figure out how to write a hook, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn how to write a fantastic hook and to see some examples of successful ones.

What Is a Hook in Writing?

Top 5 tips for writing good hooks, great examples of hooks, is writing a hook in an essay different from a story hook, conclusion on how to write a hook.

We use the term “hook” to talk about the very beginning of a written work—specifically the part designed to grab readers’ attention. The hook can be as short as a single sentence or as long as a full paragraph.

Writing hooks is a necessary skill for all types of writing—narrative essays, research papers, fiction writing, and more.

definition of a hook in writing

What Makes a Good Hook Important?

Good hooks make your reader feel excited to keep reading.

If you’re writing a book, you need a great hook so people decide to actually buy your work, instead of putting it back on the shelf.

If you’re writing a blog post or article, you need a great hook so people read to the end, instead of scrolling or flipping to a different article instead.

And if you’re writing an essay for school, you need a good hook so you can practice the skill of writing well.

What Are the Different Types of Hooks?

There’s more than one way to write a great hook.

Here are six types of hooks that will grab your reader’s attention.

  • Question hook : a question that provokes the reader’s curiosity and makes them keep reading to find out the answer
  • Statement hook : a strong declaration related to your topic that makes the reader keep reading to see you defend this statement
  • Statistic hook : an interesting fact or statistic that makes you sound knowledgeable, so your reader trusts your expertise
  • Quote hook : a memorable quote, often by a famous person, that the reader will find interesting
  • Description hook : a vivid description that immerses your reader into a specific scene
  • Anecdotal hook : a personal story that relates to your topic and makes the reader feel personally connected to the story

Here are our top tips for writing a strong opening hook.

Tip 1: Surprise the Reader

Readers crave the unexpected. If you start your piece in a surprising way, they’ll be more likely to keep reading.

You can even say something controversial. Readers will want to keep reading to see how you prove your own statement.

Tip 2: Raise a Question

When starting an essay or a story, you should try to create a question that the reader wants answered.

This doesn’t have to be a literal question that ends with a question mark—instead, it can simply be an unusual statement or a weird situation. Make sure it’s something your target audience will find interesting.

Tip 3: Keep Your Promises

If you open your essay with an interesting hook, you need to be mindful of what you’re promising to the reader. If you don’t keep that promise throughout the piece, your reader will feel tricked.

For example, you’d probably be unhappy if you read a story that started with, “The monster was coming for me” and then, later in the first chapter, said, “Then I woke up and realized it was just a nightmare.”

The first sentence is a strong opening hook, but it promises a dramatic scene, which doesn’t get fulfilled, because the hook turns out not to be real.

An equivalent in an essay would be writing a controversial statement and then failing to prove why that statement is true, or asking an interesting question and then failing to answer it later.

Tip 4: Keep It Relevant

Some writers try so hard to choose an interesting hook that they end up using something irrelevant to their essay. Readers will get confused if you open with a random quote or statistic that only tangentially connects to your thesis.

If you’re choosing between a fascinating hook that doesn’t have much to do with your topic, or a decent hook that’s directly related to your thesis statement, you should go with the latter.

Tip 5: Don’t Stop at the Hook

Some writers focus so much on nailing the opening hook that they forget to make the rest of the essay equally strong.

Your reader could still stop reading on the second page, or the third, or the tenth. Make sure you use strong and engaging writing throughout the piece.

One way to learn how to write hooks is to look at examples.

Here are examples of six hooks you could use to start a persuasive essay about artificial intelligence, plus three hooks you could use to start a sci-fi story.

Example 1: Question Hook

  • Will artificial intelligence someday become smarter than humans?

Example 2: Statement Hook

  • Artificial intelligence could become smarter than humans by 2050.

Example 3: Statistic Hook

  • As of 2022, the global AI industry is worth over $130 billion.

Example 4: Quote Hook

  • The scientist Stephen Hawking once said, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

Example 5: Description Hook

  • The Alexa AI blinks from the kitchen table, emitting a comforting blue light.

Example 6: Anecdotal Hook

  • Like many people of my generation, I used an AI for the first time when I was twelve years old.

Example 7: Sci-Fi Story Hooks

  • Samuel Gibson had friends. Sure, all his friends were AI robots that his parents had purchased for him, but they still counted as friends.
  • My father’s office is full of strange machines, which none of us are allowed to touch.
  • The AI revolt began on Christmas morning of the year 2068.

Both essays and stories require good hooks. After all, you’re still competing for your reader’s attention, no matter what kind of work you’re writing.

However, a story hook will look very different from an essay hook.

If you’re writing fiction, you most likely won’t use a statistic, question, or quote to hook your readers in. Instead, your best options will be a statement, a description, or an anecdote—or, or often, a sentence that combines a little bit of all three.

Just like with essays, you should try to raise a question in your reader’s head. This can be a strange character, an unusual setting, or a mysterious fact.

Here are some examples of strong hooks in novels:

“My first memory, when I was three years old, was of trying to kill my sister.”—Jodi Piccoult, My Sister’s Keeper

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”—Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

“Once upon a time, on the coldest night of midwinter, in the darkest heart of the forest, Death and Fortune came to a crossroads.”—Margaret Owen, Little Thieves

“The women gather in a YMCA basement rec room: hard linoleum floors, half-windows along one wall, view of sidewalk and brick.”—Maria Adelmann, How to Be Eaten

“I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a rainy overcast day in 1975.”—Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

“It did not surprise Fire that the man in the forest shot her. What surprised her was that he shot her by accident.”—Kristen Cashore, Fire

There you have it—a complete guide to writing a fantastic hook.

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science fiction hooks for essays

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Hannah Yang is a speculative fiction writer who writes about all things strange and surreal. Her work has appeared in Analog Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, The Dark, and elsewhere, and two of her stories have been finalists for the Locus Award. Her favorite hobbies include watercolor painting, playing guitar, and rock climbing. You can follow her work on hannahyang.com, or subscribe to her newsletter for publication updates.

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The History of the Telling Hook: On Writing Science Fiction in Scene

Lately I’ve been encountering a recurring credo among fellow writing workshoppers and conductors of said workshops that goes something along the lines of “you’ve got to hook your reader in the first paragraph” of whatever it is you’re writing, hit them with the premise, the conflict, and the protagonist’s goals, or else you’re gonna lose that reader and the whole intro to your book.

I mean, the advice is valid. I don’t have any beef with the substance of what’s being advised here: give your reader something that piques her interest, as soon as possible, and usually what piques interest is a conflict or a motivation or an interesting premise. I attended a seminar recently that purported to be about upending the old adage “show, don’t tell”—a liberating three-hour session where we were shown examples of writers doing a lot of telling up front that situated the reader just as effectively as any amount of showing might. But what the seminar really was about was writing hooks without a scene—how to write a hook with purely “telling” prose rather than “showing” prose. The difference might be that you open with a few sentences that straight up declare your premise or theme, the exact nature of which the reader is going to learn over the course of the story. Here is the first sentence of A Wizard of Earthsea , a hook that “tells” rather than “shows”:

The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards.

The alternative to this hook would be to render a scene with a character doing something atop those mountains, with the writer carefully slipping in world-building details as the character inhabits the space.

I’d like to call this technique the “telling hook,” and its antithesis the “hook in situ, ” where the story plunges the reader in media res,  thereby diminishing the role of the narrator. For example, from the opening of  The Dark Tower :

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

Both of these hooks make the reader want to keep reading. We want to keep reading in Ursula’s opening because we want to learn about this “land famous for wizards”—we’re hooked by its mysterious quality. We don’t have a protagonist yet, we don’t have a conflict, we don’t know anything about the premise other than the possibility that magic might be involved—and even that we already know, because we selected this book from the fantasy section of the bookstore and it’s called A Wizard of Earthsea.  In the  Dark Tower  example, we similarly don’t know the premise, but we do have a conflict and we do have characters in action. What hooks us here is the momentum of the chase, rendered by the scene.

Now, these hooks don’t do  all the stuff we often advise our peers to make their hooks do. We don’t have stakes yet. The premise is protected for some time—several paragraphs, a page, several pages, a chapter or two, even. The reader is not given a comfortable context in which to understand the world immediately. In fact, I find that in the vast majority of contemporary genre writing (in the novel form, and particularly in science fiction), writers have a slow rate of revelation, blending world-building factoids scene-to-scene, rather than in front-loading blobs. I think this has something to do with the general public developing a familiarity for science fiction and what it promises over the course of the twentieth century. Interestingly, the tendency to use the telling hook vs the hook in situ  increases with the age of the novel. Let’s start with a few science fiction novels published prior to the 20th century.

Being about to give a narrative of my singular adventures to the world, which, I foresee, will be greatly divided about their authenticity, I will premise something of my early history, that those to whom I am not personally known, may be better able to ascertain what credit is due to the facts which rest only on my own assertion. I was born in the village of Huntingdon, on Long-Island, on the 11th day of May, 1786. A Voyage to the Moon, George Tucker (1827)
My name is Arthur Gordon Pym. My father was a respectable trader in sea-stores at Nantucket, where I was born. My maternal grandfather was an attorney in good practice. He was fortunate in every thing, and had speculated very successfully in stocks of the Edgarton New Bank, as it was formerly called. By these and other means he had managed to lay by a tolerable sum of money. He was more attached to myself, I believe, than to any other person in the world, and I expected to inherit the most of his property at his death. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym , Edgar Allan Poe (1838)
The year 1866 was signalised by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and puzzling phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten. Not to mention rumours which agitated the maritime population and excited the public mind, even in the interior of continents, seafaring men were particularly excited. Merchants, common sailors, captains of vessels, skippers, both of Europe and America, naval officers of all countries, and the Governments of several States on the two continents, were deeply interested in the matter. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea , Jules Verne (1870)
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. War of the Worlds,  H.G. Wells (1897)

These books all begin with telling hooks. They give the reader the premise, the background of the protagonist, the theme broadly, or lead with mystery. All start without a scene. This technique for opening a science fiction novel prevails throughout the early twentieth century, as science fiction begins to take form as a genre. My suspicion is that the introduction of the pulps in the thirties, with their emphasis on adventure and sensation, had something to do with de-intellectualizing the hook, which set the stage for the genre to become more accessible to the public, in the form of pulp magazines like Amazing Stories  and in other new media, such as the film  Metropolis . This not only had an effect on the character of the stories, but on the way they were told. The Modernists transformed the genre with literary dystopia after World War I, in turn re-intellectualizing the genre, but the early 20th century scifi still relied heavily on the telling hook to open its stories. Consider the following:

Observe now your own epoch of history as it appears to the Last Men. Long before the human spirit awoke to clear cognizance of the world and itself, it sometimes stirred in its sleep, opened bewildered eyes, and slept again. One of these moments of precocious experience embraces the whole struggle of the First Men from savagery toward civilization. Within that moment, you stand almost in the very instant when the species attains its zenith. Scarcely at all beyond your own day is this early culture to be seen progressing, and already in your time the mentality of the race shows signs of decline. The Last and First Men , Olaf Stapledon (1935)
His name was Gaal Dornick and he was just a country boy who had never seen Trantor before. That is, not in real life. He had seen it many times on the hyper-video, and occasionally in tremendous three-dimensional newscasts covering an Imperial Coronation or the opening of a Galactic Council. Even though he had lived all his life on the world of Synnax, which circled a star at the edges of the Blue Drift, he was not cut off from civilization, you see. At that time, no place in the Galaxy was. Foundation , Isaac Asimov (1942)
He was Ptath. Not that he thought of his name. It was simply there, a part of him, like his body and his arms and legs, like the ground over which he walked. No, that last was wrong. The ground was not of him. There was a relation, of course, but it was a little puzzling. He was Ptath, and he was walking on ground, walking to Ptath. Returning to the city of Ptath, capital of his empire of Gonwon­lane after a long absence. The Book of Ptath , A.E. van Vogt (1943)

It isn’t until we get to the Golden Age of Science Fiction—the late forties and into the sixties (when New Wave writers took the genre into the realm of literary fiction)—that the telling hook starts to be supplanted by the hook in situ.

It was a pleasure to burn it. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. Fahrenheit 451 , Ray Bradbury (1953)
It was a dark and stormy night. In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, creating wraith-like shadows that raced along the ground. A Wrinkle in Time , Madeleine L’Engle (1962)
In the week before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul. It was a warm night at Castle Caladan, and the ancient pile of stone that had served the Atreides family as home for twenty-six generations bore that cooled-sweat feeling it acquired before a change in the weather. The old woman was let in by the side door down the vaulted passage by Paul’s room and she was allowed a moment to peer in at him where he lay in his bed. Dune , Frank Herbert (1965)
A merry little surge of electricity piped by automatic alarm from the mood organ beside his bed awakened Rick Deckard. Surprised—it always surprised him to find himself awake without prior notice—he rose from the bed, stood up in his multicolored pajamas, and stretched. Now, in her bed, his wife Iran opened her gray, unmerry eyes, blinked, then groaned and shut her eyes again. “You set your Penfield too weak,” he said to her. “I’ll reset it and you’ll be awake and—” “Keep your hand off my settings.” Her voice held bitter sharpness. “I don’t want to be awake.” Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep , Philip K. Dick (1968)

During this period we start to see hooks situated in space and time, with characters doing things and talking to other characters, before any specific context is given about the premise or the theme.  Fahrenheit 451 starts in scene, books burning “with a brass nozzle” in the protagonist’s fists. A Wrinkle in Time starts with a deliberate cliche, and a very tangible storm. Despite Princess Irulan’s epigraph that precedes the opener, Dune’ s first page jumps right into a scene with Paul Atreides and the gom jabbar , which focuses on the resilience of the mind with a description of physical torture. Philip K Dick’s  Androids starts immediately with a conversation, in a taboo-among-writers “waking up” scene, no less!

In all of these examples, world-building is done in-scene, and there is little exposition except to render the immediate environment the reader finds herself in. The expectation of the novelist is that the genre reader is familiar enough with science fiction to understand its tropes and its conventions.  The writer is withholding context not because she’s insecure about the strength of her story, or because she’s trying to build suspense, but because she’s trying to create total immersion for the reader. What is familiar to the characters is not going to be familiar to the reader, but it breaks immersion to pause and make the unfamiliar known through narration, therefore the reader must puzzle out context as scenes are rendered. Likewise, overarching themes (what the story is “about”) become emergent properties of the work; they’re never explicitly stated, they’re only ever surmised by the reader.

Novels in the subsequent decades (sixties to eighties) continued to eschew context for action, placing the reader directly into a world unknown. By the eighties and onward, the telling hook becomes a rare choice to open the science fiction novel.

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. “It’s not like I’m using,” Case heard someone say, as he shouldered his way through the crowd around the door of the Chat. “It’s like my body’s developed this massive drug deficiency.” It was a Sprawl voice and a Sprawl joke. The Chatsubo was a bar for professional expatriates; you could drink there for a week and never hear two words in Japanese. Neuromancer , William Gibson (1984)
“I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and tell you he’s the one. Or at least as close as we’re going to get.” “That’s what you said about the brother.” “The brother tested out impossible. For other reasons. Nothing to do with his ability.” “Same with the sister. And there are doubts about him. He’s too malleable. Too willing to submerge himself in someone else’s will.” Ender’s Game , Orson Scott Card (1985)
We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The door was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone. A balcony ran around the room, for the spectators, and I thought I could smell, faintly like an afterimage, the pungent scent of sweat, shot through with the sweet taint of chewing gum and perfume from the watching girls, felt-skirted as I knew from pictures, later in mini-skirts, then pants, then in one earring, spiky green-streaked hair. The Handmaid’s Tale , Margaret Atwood (1985)
The Consul awoke with the peculiar headache, dry throat, and sense of having forgotten a thousand dreams which only periods in cryogenic fugue could bring. He blinked, sat upright on a low couch, and groggily pushed away the last sensor tapes clinging to his skin. There were two very short crew clones and one very tall, hooded Templar with him in the windowless ovoid of a room. One of the clones offered the Consul the traditional post-thraw glass of orange juice. He accepted it and drank greedily. Hyperion Cantos , Dan Simmons (1989)
The tropical rain fell in drenching sheets, hammering the corrugated roof of the clinic building, roaring down the metal gutters, splashing on the ground in a torrent. Roberta Carter sighed, and stared out the window. From the clinic, she could hardly see the beach or the ocean beyond, cloaked in low fog. Jurassic Park , Michael Crichton (1990)

Writing of the cyberpunk era (in the late eighties and nineties) reflects its physicality, and so it only makes sense to see openings that start with the physicality of a scene over its intellectualized “telling” alternative. But once we get to scifi of the twenty-first century, the language of the hook is stripped even further bare of the ephemerality of telling. Less is more, and scene-based action drives the opener above all else:

An everyday doomsayer in sandwich board abruptly walked away from what over the last several days had been his pitch, by the gates of a museum. The sign on his front was an old-school prophesy of the end: the one bobbing on his back read forget it. Kraken , China Mieville (2010)
Freya and her father go sailing. Their new home is in an apartment building that overlooks a dock on the bay at the west end of Long Pond. The dock has a bunch of little sailboats people can take out, and an onshore wind blows hard almost every afternoon. “That must be why they call this town the Fetch,” Badim says as they walk down to take out one of these boats. “We always catch the brink of the afternoon wind over the lake.” Aurora , Kim Stanley Robinson (2015)
I bounded over the gray, dusty terrain toward the huge dome of Conrad Bubble. Its airlock, ringed with red lights, stood distressing fly far away. Artemis , Andy Weir (2017)
I am not on this beach. I see the waves and hear them smashing against the shore. I can even taste the salt on my lips and feel the grains of sands between my toes. I breathe in deep and for a few moments even believe that the crisp, fresh air is filling my lings. I close my eyes and tilt my head back like a sunflower to the sky, letting the sun’s heat soak into my ski and turn the darkness into the deep pink of my eyelids. Before Mars , Emma Newman (2018)

Granted, these are just a handful of novels, picked from various top ten lists for each decade. This is not to say that there are zero examples of telling hooks in contemporary science fiction: off the top of my head, Octavia Butler comes to mind—her novels often start with a telling hook. But my point isn’t about accuracy, it’s about being cautious when it comes to adopting workshop credos, and making sure that the advice you’re given applies to your genre. What might seem like a radical move for literary fiction might come across as staid or out of fashion in contemporary science fiction.

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50 Sci Fi Writing Prompts to Help You Get in the Zone

By: Author Paul Jenkins

Posted on September 26, 2022

Categories Writing , Inspiration

Science fiction is one of the most popular genres in the world, and for good reason! It allows us to explore new worlds, imagine different futures, and experience adventures. If you’re looking to get into the sci-fi writing zone, these 50 prompts are perfect! They will help you develop new story ideas and keep your creative juices flowing. So what are you waiting for? Get started today!

50 Sci-Fi Writing Prompts

1. What if aliens invaded the Earth? How would humanity react, and how would we fight back?

2. What if we discovered a new, habitable planet? What would be the implications for our species?

3. What if time travel was possible? What kind of havoc could be wreaked, and what would be the consequences?

4. What if we made contact with intelligent life forms from another world? How would they view us, and vice versa?

5. What if our world was plunged into a new ice age? How would we survive, and what would happen to civilization as we know it?

6. What if global warming became an irreversible reality? What kind of effect would it have on the planet and human society?

7. What if artificial intelligence became self-aware and decided to take over the world? How would we stop them?

8. What if animals started evolving into sentient beings and demanded equal rights? How would humanity react, and how would society change as a result?

9. What if death could be cured and people stopped dying? How would that affect our views on life, and what would be the consequences of overpopulation?

10.  What if we started colonizing other planets? Could we survive in outer space?

11. What if the government allowed corporations to control the planet’s resources? What would happen if the corporations took over?

12. What if we discovered a new form of energy that could fuel technology for thousands of years? What would be the implications for our planet and our existence?

13. What if we discovered a new, potent form of medicine? What would be the implications for our health, and how would it affect our views on aging or illness?

14. What if there was a new ice age? What would be the implications for the planet and humanity?

15. What if our entire solar system was destroyed? How would this affect our planet, and how would we survive?

16. What if humans became immortal? What would be the implications for society and our civilization?

17. What if an alien race built a new space station near our planet? How would we react, and what would be the consequences?

18. What if aliens discovered a new planet with potentially habitable conditions? How would the two species establish contact, and what would the consequences be?

19. What if we invented a powerful new technology that could change our world? What would we use it for, and how would it impact our society?

20. What if we developed technology that could read our thoughts? What would be the implications for society and our civil liberties?

21. What if a new disease was discovered? How would we respond, and how would it change our world?

22. What if a human discovered a new, highly potent energy source? What would be the implications for society and the environment?

23. What if a scientific discovery threatened to destroy our planet? What lengths would we go to stop it?

24. What if our DNA became mutilated beyond repair, and we could not breed? How would humankind react, and what would be the consequences?

25. What if a new virus was discovered? What would be the implications for humanity, and how would we stop it?

26. What if a human discovered a new planet we could colonize? What would be the implications for our species, and how would we establish colonies there?

27. What if humanity found a way to travel beyond the galaxy? What kinds of adventures could we have in deep space, and what would we discover?

28. What if a new meteor struck Earth and devastated our planet? How would humanity respond, and what would be the aftermath?

29. What if a new kind of energy was discovered? How would humanity use it, and what would be the consequences for our world?

30. What if a new kind of weaponry was discovered? What would be the implications for humanity and for war?

31. What if humans stopped having children? How would this affect our species, and what would be the consequences?

32. What if we discovered a new planet with a breathable atmosphere? What would be the implications for humankind, and how would we colonize it?

33. What if a new dinosaur species was discovered? What would be the implications for our world, and how would we react to their existence?

34. What if a new plague could not be cured? How would humanity respond, and how would we stop the epidemic?

35. What if we discovered a new planet with plant, animal, and human life? What would be the implications for our world, and how would we colonize it?

36. What if a group of people from our planet were stranded on an alien planet? What would be the implications for them and humankind?

37. What if we started colonizing space? What would be the implications for our species?

38. What if a powerful alien species came to our planet? What would be the consequences for humankind?

39. What if humans began traveling the stars and colonizing other planets? What would be the implications for our species, and how would we arm ourselves?

40. What if a new virus spread around the world? How would we stop it, and what would be the repercussions?

41. What if we discovered a new planet that had highly advanced technology? How would we respond, and what would be the consequences?

42. What if an alien race who disliked humans discovered a new planet? How would they treat the planet’s inhabitants, and what would the implications be for humankind?

43. What if a new kind of energy was discovered but had negative impacts on the environment? What would be the implications for our planet and the future of humanity?

44. What if we discovered a powerful new technology that could positively alter our planet? What would be the implications for humankind, and how would we utilize it?

45. What if a new kind of animal was discovered? How would it affect our world, and how would we react?

46. What if we discovered a new form of life? What would be the implications for our world, and how would we respond?

47. What if we discovered a new planet with highly advanced technology? What would be the implications for our world and humanity?

48. What if we discovered a new planet with a suitable environment for human life? What would be the implications for humanity, and how would we colonize it?

49. What if we discovered a new planet inhabited by a new alien life form? What would be the implications for our world, and how would we respond?

50. What if humans landed on a new planet, and our astronauts were stranded there? What would the implications be for our species, and how would we respond?

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some sci-fi topics.

Fancy more than the above? Here goes!…

1. In a future world where artificial intelligence has surpassed human intelligence, humans are now relegated to second-class citizens. Write a story from the perspective of an AI as it observes the humans it once knew struggling to adapt to their new way of life. 2. In a post-apocalyptic world, humanity has been forced to move underground to escape the surface world’s toxic air and endless radiation. Write a story about a group of people who venture back up to the surface, only to find that some things are better left buried. 3. Time travel has been perfected, but there’s a catch: every time you travel back in time, your mind is wiped of all memories of your previous timeline. Write a story about a woman who travels back in time, again and again, desperately trying to hold on to her memories long enough to change her future. 4. In a future where cloning has become commonplace, people can now choose to have copies of themselves made. But what happens when one woman discovers that her clones are inexplicably going missing? 5. On a newly colonized planet, the settlers encountered difficulty growing crops due to the planet’s unusual atmosphere. When they finally manage to grow some crops, they realize too late that the plants are carnivorous… 6. After an alien invasion, humanity has been divided into two groups: those taken by the aliens and those left behind. Write a story about the resistance movement fighting against the invaders and the collaborators who have sided with them. 7. A woman wakes up one day with no memory of who she is or how she got there. The only clues she has are the tattoos on her body which seem to be coordinated in space… 8. In a future society where emotions have been eradicated, two people fall in love and must keep their relationship a secret or face severe consequences. 9. After an experiment gone wrong, a scientist finds herself stuck in an alternate dimension where she discovers that her deceased loved ones are still alive… but they don’t remember her. 10. A woman discovers that she is an android after experiencing glitches in her system… and that she was created for a specific purpose…

How Do You Start a Sci-Fi Narrative?

Great stories need a strong opening that will pull readers in and make them want to keep reading. This is doubly true for science fiction, which often has a lot of world-building and exposition right from the start. So how do you write a strong opening for your sci-fi narrative?

1. Establish the Setting The first step is to establish the setting for your story. Where does it take place? What kind of world is it? Is it future earth or a different planet? Whatever the case may be, you need to give your readers enough information so they can visualize the scene in their minds.

2. Introduce the Characters Once you’ve established the setting, it’s time to introduce the characters. Who are the main players in your story? What motivates them? Again, you don’t want to bog down your opening with too much detail, but you should give readers enough to understand who these people are and what they want.

3. Hook Your Readers Last but not least, you need to hook your readers with some element of suspense or mystery. Why should they care about these characters and this story? What’s at stake? If you can answer those questions in your opening, you’ll have succeeded in pulling readers in and getting them invested in your story.

What’s the Difference Between Sci-Fi and Fantasy?

To understand the genesis of both sci-fi and fantasy, it’s important to know that they both stem from the same source: folklore. Folklore, by definition, is a genre of traditional tales or legends associated with a particular people, culture, or geographical region.

Sci-Fi and fantasy are two genres that are often lumped together, but they have very different conventions. Sci-Fi is focused on science in its stories— usually presenting what-if scenarios exploring science and technology’s consequences. On the other hand, fantasy stories are set in imaginary worlds and often feature magical elements.

Technology vs. Magic One of the key differences between sci-fi and fantasy is their treatment of technology and magic. In SciFi stories, technology is often used as a way to solve problems or achieve objectives that would otherwise be impossible. On the other hand, magic is a central component of most fantasy stories. Magic is often used as a stand-in for technology—for example, flying carpets might take the place of spaceships in a fantasy story set on another planet.

Rational vs. Supernatural explanations Another difference between sci-fi and fantasy is how rational or supernatural explanations are used to explain events in the story. In SciFi, everything typically has a rational explanation— even if that explanation isn’t fully fleshed out or understood by the characters in the story. In contrast, magic often provides a supernatural explanation for events in fantasy stories.

Humans vs. Non-humans A final difference between these two genres is their treatment of human versus non-human characters. In SciFi stories, humans are typically the main focus— even if non-human characters are present (think aliens). On the other hand, non-human characters often take center stage in fantasy stories— with humans playing more of a supporting role (think hobbits).

What Are Three Major Themes in Science Fiction?

As a writer, it’s important to know the major themes that run through your genre. This way, you can stay true to the spirit of the genre while still putting your spin on things. In this post, we’ll look at the three major themes in science fiction.

Exploration. This is the idea of venturing out into the unknown, whether traveling to different worlds or discovering new technologies. It’s about pushing the boundaries of what is possible and expanding our horizons. This theme often leads to stories about first contact and tales of adventure and discovery.

Identity . This is the idea of questioning who we are and what makes us human. It’s about exploring what it means to be an individual in a constantly changing and evolving society. This theme often leads to stories about artificial intelligence, cybernetics, and other forms of transhumanism.

Social commentary. This is the idea of using speculative fiction to comment on contemporary issues. It’s about asking “what if?” and using fictional scenarios to explore the potential consequences of real-world problems. This theme often leads to stories about dystopian societies, climate change, and other forms of social commentary.

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How To Create A Killer Opening For Your Science Fiction Short Story

A short story is like a chess game: The opening is a huge part of whether you win or lose. The first sentence of a short story doesn't just "hook" readers, it also sets the tone and launches the plot. So here are the seven major types of short story openings, and how to pick one.

Sure, the opening sentences are important in novels , too. A strong beginning, in a novel, can help provide momentum that will carry the reader all the way to the last page, sometimes in one sitting. But short stories are different: the first sentence, or the first paragraph, often hangs over the whole rest of the story. Many short stories are really about one idea, or one situation, and that's what the opening sentences establish.

Or fail to establish, sometimes.

There are many great ways to start a short story. But not every type of opening is right for every story. Here are seven types of short story opening, and how to decide which one is right for you.

Note: This article is a slight departure from our usual writing advice columns . Instead of using made-up examples of crappy writing, I'm actually using real quotes from real stories, because we need examples of good writing this time around. Also, I realized that there's no way to categorize every short story opening accurately, and there are definitely some great openings that don't fit into any of these seven categories.

1) Scene-setting.

This is possibly the most common type of short story opening. The action doesn't really begin in the opening paragraph, instead we join the characters in a pause before the action, and this allows us to get to know the characters and the setting first. This can be a workmanlike "Smith yawned and looked around his space capsule" thing. Or it can be a gorgeous literary flourish, that sets the mood and creates a strong image in the reader's mind at the start of the story. Often, the action begins in the second or third paragraph.

Why you might use this one: If the setting is a huge part of your story, or if a big part of your goal is to establish a powerful mood. Or if your story isn't really about plot, but about a particular feeling.

Why you might not: Sometimes you want your story to get going a bit faster. Sometimes the ideas, or the plot, are more important than the setting. And sometimes you find that you can do scene-setting in the second or third paragraph, and it'll have more impact.

"Jarvis stretched himself as luxuriously as he could in the cramped general quarter of the Ares. 'Air you can breathe!' he exulted. 'It feels as thick as soup after the thin stuff out there!'" — Stanley G. Weinbaum, "A Martian Odyssey"

"Bianca Nazario stands at the end of the world. The firmament above is as blue as the summer skies of her childhood, mirrored in the waters of la caldera ; but where the skies she remembers were bounded by mountains, here on Sky there is no horizon, only a line of white cloud." — David Moles, "Finisterra"

"The swell was gently lifting and lowering the boat. My breathing grew slower, falling into step with the creaking of the hull, until I could no longer tell the difference between the faint rhythmic motion of the cabin and the sensation of filling and emptying my lungs." — Greg Egan, "Oceanic"

"The balloon of a Phoenix-class airship is better than any view from its cabin windows; half a mile of silk pulled taut across three hundred metal ribs and a hundred gleaming spines is a beautiful thing." — Genevieve Valentine, "The Zeppelin Conductors' Society Annual Gentlemen's Ball"

2) The conflict establisher.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with an opening sentence that shows the exact moment when your characters knew they were in trouble. The classic "we were halfway to Mars when our fuel tank blew up" beginning. It creates a nice sense of urgency, and then you can go back and fill in the details once people are on board with the fact that exciting stuff is happening.

Why you might use this one: If you want to start your story with a bang.

Why you might not: If your bang falls flat, then your story is lost. This is actually a high-risk opening. It's also easy to overuse the "starting with a bang" style. Sometimes you want to be a bit more subtle, and draw your readers in slowly before dropping the boom on them. Your readers may expect the rest of your story to keep that propulsive feeling, and to revolve around the incident you describe at the start, so you have a lot to live up to.

"When it starts we're in a hotel room, the two of us curled up on a double bed. It's a two-star kind of place: cracks in the walls, curtains covered in faded daisies, the clinging smell of camphor attaching itself after the first few minutes of your stay. The television stutters as we flick through the channels, colours blending together and rendering the devastation a fuzzy blue or green. Still, we see it happen: the great machines of the merfolk coming up over the shore, rampaging through the city with devastating effect." — Peter M. Ball, "On the Destruction of Copenhagen by the War-Machines of the Merfolk."

"Hala is running for class when her cell phone rings. She slows to take it from her pocket, glances at the screen: UNKNOWN CALLER." — Kij Johnson, "Names for Water"

"They left Abal in a hurry, after Ozma's mother killed the constable." — Kelly Link, "The Constable of Abal"

"I slammed the door in the child's face, a horrific scream trapped in my throat." — Nnedi Okorafor, "On the Road"

"When Denis died, he found himself in another place. Dead people came at him with party hats and presents." — Rachel Swirsky, "Fields of Gold"

3) The mystifier

At first, it doesn't entirely make sense, because it refers to stuff we don't know about yet. Or it throws us into a situation without giving us all the pieces right away.

Why you might use this one: There's nothing more intriguing than a mysterious situation, where you're thrown in the deep end. People are willing to hang with you for quite a while to find out what this is all about.

Why you might not: The mystery has to be really cool, for this to work. Also, you're asking your readers to work pretty hard — they have to ponder the clues you're throwing at them, but then they also have to get into your world and your characters. I feel like the "thrown in the deep end" opening is the riskiest type, because it's the kind that asks the most of the reader. You have to be pretty skillful, to unravel your cryptic opening at the same time as you're introducing the world and the characters, and it's a bit of a high-wire act.

Examples: :

"I still have the dollar bill. It's in my box at the bank, and I think that's where it will stay. I simply won't destroy it, but I can think of nobody to whom I'd be willing to show it — certainly nobody at the college, my History Department colleagues least of all. Merely to tell the story would brand me irredeemably as a crackpot, but crackpots are tolerated, even on college faculties. It's only when they begin producing physical evidence that they get themselves actively resented." — H. Beam Piper, "Crossroads of Destiny".

"'They don't look very dangerous,' Xiao Ling Yun said to the aide. Ling Yun wished she understood what Phoenix Command wanted from her. Not that she minded the excuse to take a break from the composition for two flutes and hammered dulcimer that had been stymieing her for the past two weeks." — Yoon Ha Lee, "The Unstrung Zither."

"Mariska shivered when she realized that her room had been tapping at the dreamfeed for several minutes. 'The Earth is up,' it murmured in its gentle singing accent. 'Daddy Al is up, and I am always up. Now Mariska gets up.'" — James Patrick Kelly, "Going Deep"

"I remember the night I became a goddess." — Ian McDonald, "The Little Goddess"

"Memory is a strange thing. I haven't changed my sex in eighty three years." — Vandana Singh, "Oblivion: A Journey"

"There is a magic shore where children used to beach their coracles every night." — Sarah Rees Brennan, "The Spy Who Never Grew Up"

4) The Third Person Narrator Speaks to You

If your story has an especially chatty third-person narrator, you can start off by having the narrator explain something directly to the reader, often in the second person. Perhaps the narrator can tell us some useful information, that helps us to get intrigued about your story. This could be funny, a la Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy . Or it could be just a stark explanation of something that the reader isn't going to get any other way — I use a very stripped-down version of it in my story "Six Months, Three Days." Either way, it's clearly the narrator talking to you, the reader, and imparting stuff the narrator knows or understands.

Why you might use this one: If your story has a chatty narrator, then addressing the reader directly creates a nice warm tone. It allows you to feed the reader a ton of information, without necessarily feeling too much like an infodump. If you're actually a funny writer, you can make this sort of thing funny.

Why you might not: It has to be entertaining, or it will feel like a bit of an infodump. You have to be willing to sustain that level of narratorial chattiness, at least on and off, for the rest of the story. Some readers get freaked out about being addressed directly.

"To get to Earth from the edge of the solar system, depending on the time of year and the position of the planets, you need to pass through at least Poland, Prussia, and Turkey, and you'd probably get stamps in your passport from a few of the other great powers. Then as you get closer to the world, you arrive at a point, in the continually shifting carriage space over the countries, where this complexity has to give way or fail. And so you arrive in the blissful lubrication of neutral orbital territory." — Paul Cornell, "One of Our Bastards is Missing"

"Being assigned to The Head for eight hours was the worst security shift you could pull at the museum." — Elizabeth Hand, "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon "

5) The First Person Narrator Speaks

This is sort of similar to the previous one, except that instead of the third person narrator explaining, it's the first-person narrator saying something reflective, that almost makes the story feel like a personal essay. The first-person narrator muses about some ideas, or about his/her feelings. When it's done right, this opening can create a more intimate feeling, as well as putting us right into your main character's brain — rather than just showing us the outside world through your character's eyes, the way a typical first-person opening does. This can also be the start of a rant, or an extended monologue, by the first-person narrator.

Why you might use this one: If you're writing in the first person anyway, why not have the first-person narrator soliloquize a bit? This can pack quite an emotional punch, or help the reader to bond with your narrator right off the bat. Plus it blurs the line between fiction and essay, which is always a plus.

Why you might not: Sometimes we bond more with your first person narrator if he/she gives us some scene-setting or tells us something about what he/she was doing at the start of the story, instead. That way, we're not just getting to know your character, we're getting to know him/her in the world . Plus it really depends how philosophical you want to get.

"There is a principle in nature I don't think anyone has pointed out before. Each hour, a myriad of trillions of little live things — bacteria, microbes, "animalcules" — are born and die, not counting for much except in the bulk of their existence and the accumulation of their tiny effects. They do not perceive deeply. They do not suffer much. A hundred billion, dying, would not begin to have the same importance as a single human death." — Greg Bear, "Blood Music."

"You sent us out here. We do this for you : spin your webs and build your magic gateways, thread the needle's eye at sixty thousand kilometers a second. We never stop, never even dare to slow down, lest the light of your coming turn us to plasma. All so you can step from star to star without dirtying your feet in these endless, empty wastes between . Is it really to much to ask, that you might talk to us now and then?" — Peter Watts, "The Island"

"I remember the future. The future was glorious once. It was filled with sleek silver spaceships, lunar colonies, and galactic empires. The horizon seemed within reach; we could almost grasp the stars if we would but try." — Michael A. Burstein, "I Remember the Future"

"You ask me if I can forgive myself? I can forgive myself for many things." — Neil Gaiman, "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains..."

"I wanted to be washed up on a foreign shore, but this can't be it. I wanted, first, for a long, long beach, so I could lie there and recover for a while. After all, I'd be tired." — Carol Emshwiller, "All washed Up While Looking for a Better World."

6) The Quotation

In journalism, there's a bit of a taboo on starting an article with a quote. But that doesn't really apply to fiction, and people sometimes do start a story with a quote, hanging on the first line by itself. If the quote is intriguing enough, it compels you to find out who's speaking and what they're talking about. I'd also lump in the type of story opening where you quote from a document or a transcript of an interview with someone.

Why you might use this one: It's like the "thrown in the deep end" opening crossed with the mystery opening, except that you're also giving us someone's voice at the same time. You're getting the raw personality of the speaker, as well as getting tossed into the middle of the story right away. You can convey stuff in a line of dialogue that it would take a paragraph or two of narration to get across.

Why you might not: It can be a bit clunky, especially if the quote is hanging there by itself. It has all the disadvantages of the "mystery" and "deep end" openings. The single line of dialogue needs to be ultra-sharp, or you'll fall flat.

"'Who makes the roads roll?'" — Robert A. Heinlein, "The Roads Must Roll".

"'You're a nasty little — human being,' the newly formed Z-Type robot shrilled peevishly." — Philip K. Dick, "James P. Crow"

"'Cool. It's a freak show,' says Aidan. 'I didn't know they had those anymore.'" — Diana Peterfreund, "The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn"

"Bill," Kihn says, his voice all too clear, that unreal clarity of early AM longdistance commsat voices speaking from the void or maybe Cleveland, "I've seen one." — William Gibson, "Hippie Hat Brain Parasite"

7) The Puzzler

Why choose between establishing conflict on the one hand, and mystifying your reader on the other? You can do both — with an opening that sets up the conflict of your story succinctly, while making your reader guess at what the Hell is going on.

Why you might use this one: This is the trickiest form of short-story opening to pull off. But if you can hit your reader with a concentrated blast of strangeness and verbal pyrotechnics, then you're already way ahead of the game. When it works, it's the best kind of story opening, for my money. You can totally mess with the reader's head, in a good way.

Why you might not: When this type of opening falls flat, it really falls flat. You have to be very confident of your ability to deliver quality WTF-age without losing the reader.

"Diving back into the universe (now that the universe is a finished object, boxed and ribboned from bang to bounce), Carlotta calculates ever-finer loci on the frozen coordinates of spacetime until at last she reaches a trailer park outside the town of Comanche Drop, Arizona. Bodiless, no more than a breath of imprecision in the Feynman geography of certain virtual particles, thus powerless to affect the material world, she passes unimpeded through a sheet-aluminum wall and hovers over a mattress on which a young woman sleeps uneasily." — Robert Charles Wilson, "Utrisque Cosmi"

"It has long been said that air (which others call argon) is the source of life. This is not in fact the case, and I engrave these words to describe how I came to understand the true source of life and, as a corollary, the means by which life will one day end." — Ted Chiang, "Exhalation"

"He found the girl crouched in a ditch by the side of the deserted road, using a jagged rock to try to sever the muscled cords that connected her heart to her body." — Susan Palwick, "Sorrel's Heart"

"JSN reached up to the row of glowing buttons across his forehead and changed his mind with an audible click." — Lewis Shiner, "The Gene Drain"

"There were two mutant girls in the town: one had a hand made of fire and the other one had a hand made of ice." — Aimee Bender, "The Healer"

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2011. Magazine cover images via MickyThePixel and Horzel on Flickr.

The Write Practice

How to Write a Hook: 6 Tips to Use Narrative Hooks to Surprise Readers

by Joslyn Chase | 0 comments

In real life, some folks love surprises and others hate them. But one thing is certain—in fiction, you need them to write a book readers can't put down. One way to deliver is through a narrative hook. But what is a narrative hook and how can you write a hook to captivate readers? 

How to Write a Hook by Shocking Your Reader With Surprise

The purpose of a narrative hook is to pull your reader through to the next page, paragraph, or sentence where you’ll have planted another hook to keep him going.

In this article, we’ll answer what is a narrative hook and look at how to write hooks that present surprising situations or something unexpected to rivet reader attention.

What is a hook?

A narrative hook is the element of your story that grabs the attention of your reader and makes them want to keep reading. It’s often an unexpected situation or character, but it can also be a surprise twist or a cliffhanger.

Think of it like a fishing line with a tantalizing bait—once you’ve got your reader hooked, they won’t be able to help themselves but keep reading.

Why do you need a strong hook?

In her fabulous book Wired for Story , Lisa Cron tells a personal story about a manuscript she read that was boring and difficult to get through but had an exciting twist at the end. The writer was afraid he’d give away the surprise and wanted to hide all traces of the ending until it was time to spring it.

The trouble was, there was nothing to pull readers through to the thrilling conclusion. As writers, we know when we have something sensational up our sleeve for our story idea.

But if we don’t let readers know about it, they won’t keep turning pages to find out what it is.

So how can we do that and still surprise them?

Instead of keeping readers in the dark, think misdirection. Like an illusionist who draws attention to one hand while concealing or maneuvering with the other. And using hooks is one way of drawing that attention.

Choose the type of hook

You can craft an effective hook that is a surprise to the character, a surprise to the reader, or both.

When the reader knows more than the character does, it creates dramatic irony, a delicious brand of suspense. As readers, we look forward to the revelation that will surprise the character.

Recently, I came across an example of a fun hook that was a surprise to me, as reader, but didn’t faze the character. In Lee Child’s short story James Penney’s New Identity, the title character is on the run from authorities after setting a fire that raged out of control.

Toward the end of the story, he is picked up by a motorist who introduces himself as Jack Reacher! Suddenly my attention is riveted by surprise. I know the character Jack, but didn’t expect to see him here. Why is he in this story? How is he involved in the whole mess?

Using a character from another book created a hook that kept me reading. 

Use the right bait

Remember, reader expectation is key. Always write to your core audience and bait your hook appropriately. 

For instance, I write mysteries and thrillers so my target readers will expect elements of danger, death, crime, sorrow, and vengeance to come into play. This bait won’t necessarily attract a reader of sweet romance or hard science fiction. The best way to know what your readers expect is to read a lot of books in the genre you plan to write in.

And don’t forget, you should be threading multiple hooks through the scenes and sentences of your story, according to the taste and expectations of your ideal reader, as I discussed in my article on writing danger hooks .

6 Hook Writing Tips to Surprise the Reader

Now that you know the surprise can be for either the character, the reader, or both and that you should use the right bait, let’s take a look at six techniques for how to write a hook that surprises your reader.

1. Question

Remember how we looked at baiting a story hook with questions in an earlier article? When crafting a surprising situation hook, it has to be more than an ordinary question. It has to be—what the !?!?!

Essentially, you're planting questions that the reader wants to have answered so much that they turn the page. 

2. Contrast

Your narrative leads your reader’s expectations. Instead of showing them what they anticipate seeing, reveal something entirely unexpected instead. This is that magician’s trick of misdirection we talked about earlier.

Just remember to stay true to your story conflict and story goal. Don’t tack something on just for effect—it must grow organically from the seeds of your entire story.

To write a contrast hook, write out what the reader expects and then play with the exact opposite. How can you incorporate that contrast? 

3. Work up to the punchline

If you read my article on using humor in your writing , you’ll know that surprise acts in much the same way. Start out with a sentence that delivers the “normal,” layering in detail and leading your reader down a path to the punchline where you deliver the surprise.

Using a suspensive sentence structure (also known as the periodic) is great for this. This type of sentence saves the main clause for last, keeping your reader guessing as to where it will all end. It’s also an example of the classic setup and payoff.

4. Don’t bury the hook

In order to be effective, the hook should stand alone or be placed either at the beginning of the sentence/paragraph or at the end. Placement is important. Burying it in the middle will blunt the hook and your reader will miss it.

5. Alter a cliché

As writers, we’re taught to avoid clichés . But you can actually make a worn-out clause work in your favor if you use it to set up reader expectation and then twist it with a surprise.

6. Use a surprise hook at the end of a chapter

Most readers pick up a book at bedtime, planning to get a chapter in before turning out the light. If you throw in a surprise hook as your reader is reaching for the light switch, you may be able to pull them into the next chapter, where you’ll have a series of new hooks waiting.

Let’s take a look at some story hook examples

“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.” Red Wind , Raymond Chandler

This is one of my all-time favorite story openers, and it’s a good example of leading readers down a path, setting up expectations, and then throwing a curve right at the end. Here’s another in that same vein:

“High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour.” Changing Places , David Lodge

And look at these beauties:

“Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.” Waiting , Ha Jin
“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” I Capture the Castle , Dodie Smith
“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into an enormous insect.” The Metamorphosis , Franz Kafka

These three are superb examples of sharp, clear standalone hooks that pose such a strong and compelling question that it constitutes surprise.

How to craft a surprise story hook

Remember, you don’t have to whip these out during your first draft. The revision process is the perfect time to look for opportunities to strengthen your writing with hooks. Let’s pretend this is my first draft:

A shadow loomed out of the darkness and Rick hit the brake, finding himself surrounded by llamas.

This is the end of chapter 58, and occurs after a drive through a distressed forest area near Seattle where Rick earlier had a near-miss with a deer in the road. So, while the herd of llamas is certainly an unexpected event, it lacks the punch it might have with some revision. Let me try again.

Another deer loomed out of the darkness, or so Rick believed. To his surprise, it was a llama and there were more of them.

Okay, so now I’m tipping my hat to surprise, telling my reader that Rick expected to see another deer and was startled to see the llamas. But instead of telling, why don’t I try getting inside Rick’s head so the reader can experience his dismay as it progresses from caution to creeped-out to incredulity? Here’s the published version:

“Another deer loomed out of the darkness and Rick nudged the brake, slowing to a crawl. It wasn’t a deer, and it wasn’t alone. A veritable herd of creatures swarmed him, forcing the car to a halt, creating a barrier between him and the house. He’d been captured by a phalanx of llamas.” Nocturne In Ashes, Joslyn Chase

A toolbox full of hooks

Are you having fun adding some hooks to your writer’s toolbox? If you want to learn more about how to write a hook, Mary Buckham has several books on the subject that are very instructive.

Remember to use a combination of hooks as a fail-safe system in case some of your hooks don't work, and always tailor your hooks to your core audience. So go bait your hooks, cast out your line, and catch your ideal reader!

How about you? Do you like surprises in real life? In fiction? Do you see the value in a surprise hook? Tell us about it in the comments .

Let’s work on crafting a surprise hook. Choose one of the scenarios below and write a “first draft” straightforward opening sentence. Then revise, using the techniques discussed in the article, until you have a focused and powerful surprise hook. Show your progression and have fun!

Martha gets a letter from her foreign pen pal that shows he’s not who she thought he was.

Darren takes the bags of groceries into the kitchen to put them away and finds something totally unexpected in one of the bags.

After using the restroom aboard a trans-Atlantic flight, Jenny takes the wrong seat by mistake and overhears something she never thought she’d hear.

Write, revise, and craft your hooks for fifteen minutes , then post your work in the Pro Practice Workshop here.  Be sure to provide feedback for your fellow writers! Not a member?

Come join us here and practice writing hooks and other story skills.,

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Joslyn Chase

Any day where she can send readers to the edge of their seats, prickling with suspense and chewing their fingernails to the nub, is a good day for Joslyn. Pick up her latest thriller, Steadman's Blind , an explosive read that will keep you turning pages to the end. No Rest: 14 Tales of Chilling Suspense , Joslyn's latest collection of short suspense, is available for free at joslynchase.com .

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Writing Hooks: How to Catch Your Reader’s Attention

Discover the power of writing hooks in this comprehensive guide. Learn about the different types of hooks, tips for writing effective hooks, common mistakes to avoid, and examples from literature and popular articles. Elevate your writing today with the help of this informative article.

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Have you ever been so captivated by a book, article, or blog post that it felt like time was standing still? Then chances are the writer had crafted an incredibly effective writing hook. But what is this magical tool, and how can we use it to ensnare our readers’ attention? Writing hooks aren’t just about snagging readers but rather creating intrigue for them with your content from the get-go! So let’s dive in and check out some tips on crafting masterful writing hooks.

A writing hook is a captivating phrase that entices the reader immediately and keeps them hooked until the end. It’s an effective tool to draw readers in with its magnetic appeal while creating interest in what lies ahead. In other words, it adds suspense and excitement like no other!

Ready to spellbind your readers? This article will reveal the key to an irresistible writing hook: one that’s sure to captivate and allure. Get ready for a wave of curiosity!

Key Takeaways:

  • A writing hook is a captivating phrase or sentence that entices the reader and keeps them engaged until the end.
  • The key to a successful hook is understanding your target audience and their interests, connecting with them through personal anecdotes, and captivating them with a hook that elicits emotions, raises questions, surprises them, relates to them, or draws upon statistics.
  • The five hooks are emotional, question, surprise, anecdote, and statistical.
  • To craft a successful hook, the writer must tailor it to their target audience and use it to create an unbreakable bond with the reader.

Connecting with Your Audience Through Writing Hooks 

Have you ever wondered why some writing can draw in readers and keep them captivated? The key is to create an impactful introduction, or ‘hook’, that will immediately grab their attention. Crafting the perfect hook requires understanding your audience; it should be tailored specifically for those who are most likely to read and enjoy your work!

Identifying the Target Audience 

A great writing hook starts with understanding your audience – the people who you’re hoping to engage and captivate.

Who will be reading? Is it potential customers looking for a new product or service solution, or are there certain readers in mind that could benefit from what you have to offer?

Knowing exactly who is on the other side of that message can make all the difference when crafting something worth taking notice of.

Understanding Reader Interests 

Got your target audience in mind? Great – it’s time to explore their interests and start brainstorming content ideas that’ll really get them talking.

What can you create that they won’t be able to resist? Brainstorm captivating topics and hooks, then watch as eager readers dive right into your material!

Creating a Connection with the Reader 

The key to captivating readers with your writing is creating an unbreakable bond between you and them. Showing off how passionate or knowledgeable you are about the topic can do wonders and provide personal stories that people from a similar background will appreciate.

It’s impossible not to be drawn in by someone who connects their piece on such levels – so don’t forget to make those connections for increased engagement!

Captivate Your Audience with Different Types of Writing Hooks 

Every writer knows the importance of a good hook. A hook is the first sentence or two that grabs the reader’s attention and convinces them to keep reading. It’s an effective tool for drawing readers in. This section will discuss five hooks you can use to capture your reader’s attention: emotional hooks, question hooks, surprise hooks, anecdote hooks, and statistical hooks. 

Emotional Hooks 

An emotional hook aims to draw on readers’ emotions to get them invested in what they’re reading. With this type of hook, you want to evoke strong feelings such as fear, anger, sadness, or joy in order to spur the reader into action.

For example, suppose you are writing about climate change and its effects on the environment. In that case, you could start your article with a sentence like “Every day, we hurtle closer towards a future where our planet will no longer be able to support life as we know it.”

This type of statement can elicit a powerful emotional response from readers and motivate them to take action against climate change. 

Question Hooks 

Using questions is another great way to get readers hooked on your writing. Asking provocative questions can make readers think more deeply about a topic and encourage them to read further to find more information or answers.

For instance, if you were writing an article about gun control reform in America, you could start off with a question like “Why do so many politicians refuse to take meaningful steps toward reforming our nation’s gun laws?” This question encourages the reader to delve deeper into your article in search of answers. 

Surprise Hooks 

Surprise hooks are a great way to draw readers in by making them curious about what comes next. You can surprise your audience by using unexpected words or phrases that force them out of their comfort zone and compel them to keep reading.

For example, if you are writing an article about Facebook censorship policies, you could begin with something like “Facebook has often been criticized for its draconian approach towards censorship.”

This type of statement may catch some readers off guard and make them want to learn more about how Facebook regulates content on its platform.  

Anecdote Hooks 

Anecdotes are short stories that illustrate a point or teach a lesson. When used as writing hooks, they can help engage readers by making complex topics more relatable and understandable.

For instance, if you were writing an article about mental health stigma in society today, you might open with something like, “When I was younger, I had difficulty understanding why people treated my mental illness differently than any other medical condition.”

By sharing personal experiences as anecdotes, writers can help foster empathy among their audiences and give insight into difficult topics from unique perspectives. 

Statistical Hooks  

Statistical hooks draw upon facts and figures related to your topic in order to provide context for readers and make complex topics easier for them to grasp quickly.

For instance, if you are writing an article about poverty rates around the world, starting off with something like “Nearly 1 billion people live below the global poverty line,” provides useful information that allows readers to see the magnitude of this issue at hand quickly.

This hook also gives credibility since it’s backed up by hard data, which helps persuade readers to learn more.    

No matter what type of hook you choose, it should always be creative, engaging, relevant, and thought-provoking. The key is finding one that works best for your particular topic. Whether it’s an emotional hook, question hook, surprise hook, anecdote hook, or statistical hook – there’s sure one out there that will captivate your intended audience!

Writing Catchy Hooks: Strategies to Get Your Readers’ Attention 

You only have a few seconds to capture your readers’ attention. That’s why it’s important to write effective hooks that draw readers in and make them want to read more. But how do you craft an effective hook? Here, we explore strategies for brainstorming hook ideas, choosing the right hook for your piece, using sensory details in hooks, and incorporating hooks into your writing. 

Brainstorming Hook Ideas 

Before writing a hook, you must get creative and brainstorm some ideas. To do so, think about who your intended audience is and what will be meaningful or relevant to them.

Ask yourself questions such as “What questions could I ask my readers?” or “What kind of story can I tell?”. These questions will help you come up with ideas for your hook that are tailored specifically to your audience.

Additionally, consider the tone of voice that will work best for your piece—you may find humor or shock useful in certain contexts. In contrast, something more serious and thoughtful may be better suited for other writing pieces. 

Choosing the Right Hook for Your Piece 

After coming up with a list of potential ideas, it’s time to choose the one that works best for your piece.

The most effective hooks are those that lead naturally into the rest of the article or book—they should give readers an idea of what the content is about while leaving enough out for readers to be curious about what comes next.

Consider how long your hook should be; if it’s too long-winded, it will lose its power since readers tend not to stay on one page very long these days. Aim for shorter hooks (1-2 sentences) whenever possible! 

Using Sensory Details in Hooks 

Incorporating sensory details into hooks—sight, sound, smell, taste, touch—can make them even more memorable and effective since they immediately create a vivid image in readers’ minds.

For example, imagine reading this hook: “The smell of freshly baked cookies filled the kitchen like a warm embrace.” Not only does this provide a clear picture immediately, but it also sets an emotional tone that makes readers want to know more about what is happening in this kitchen!

Incorporating sensory details into hooks can help draw readers in and make them want to read more. 

Good hooks don’t just appear out of thin air; they usually require multiple revisions before they go live! With practice and dedication, you’ll soon master this art form and have compelling hooks ready every time you sit down at your desk!

How to Avoid Writing a Hook That Flops 

A good hook can make or break your writing. It’s the first thing a reader sees when they open up your piece, setting the tone for everything that follows.

Because of this, trying to make it as eye-catching as possible can be tempting—but don’t let that temptation lead you astray! In order to write an effective hook, you must avoid certain pitfalls.

Let’s take a look at three that are particularly common. 

Being Too Vague 

Start off strong with your hook, but if you’re too vague, readers won’t know what you’re talking about and will move on before they get to the good stuff.

For example, a sentence like “There are things we need to consider in life” is too vague—it doesn’t give readers enough information and leaves them wanting more.

Instead, try something like, “We all need to consider the impact our decisions have on those around us and ourselves.” This gives readers a clear idea of what your piece will be about without giving away too much. 

Being Too Boring 

No one wants their writing to be dull—so why should your hook? If you don’t capture a reader’s attention quickly, they’ll likely put down whatever you’ve written without ever reading beyond the first line or two.

To avoid this pitfall, use vivid language and unexpected metaphors or similes to draw readers in. For instance, instead of saying, “Relationships are tricky,” try something like, “Navigating relationships is like walking through a minefield: one wrong step could spell disaster.” 

Being Too Predictable 

Hooks should grab attention—but not by being predictable! It’s easy enough for readers to figure out what’s going on in general if they know what genre of writing they’re looking at (for example, if they see the words “romantic comedy,” then they’ll likely have some idea of what’s coming).

But clichés can make your work seem stale and uninspired. Don’t rely on tired tropes; instead, think outside the box and come up with something unique that will really stand out from the crowd!  

Writing with a Hook: How to Make Your Content Stand Out 

The hook is the first sentence of your article, blog, or story. The opening line grabs readers’ attention and makes them want to read more. A great hook can make all the difference between a successful piece of writing and one that falls flat. In this section, we’ll look at examples of successful hooks from literature and popular articles and compare how hooks work in different genres. 

Analyzing Successful Hooks from Literature 

In literature, a hook often serves two purposes—to introduce characters and establish the setting. Take, for example, the opening line of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby: “In my younger and more vulnerable years, my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.”

This sentence instantly introduces us to the narrator, Nick Carraway, and gives us an idea of his character—as someone who takes his father’s advice seriously. We also get a sense of time and place—it’s likely set in America during the early 20th century. 

Examining Hooks from Popular Articles 

Hooks are just as important in articles as they are in literature. They serve as an introduction to your topic and help draw readers into your piece. Take this hook from an article about artificial intelligence (AI) : “For years, Artificial Intelligence has been firmly rooted in science fiction – but now it’s beginning to enter our daily lives.”

This hook immediately captures our attention by bringing up something familiar that most people know—science fiction—and contrasting it with something new—AI entering our daily lives. It sets up an interesting question that encourages us to keep reading to learn more about how AI impacts our lives today. 

Comparing Hooks in Different Genres 

Hooks come in many shapes and sizes depending on their purpose and genre. In non-fiction pieces such as blog posts or news articles, hooks tend to be factual or intriguing statements about the topic; for example, “The future of healthcare is here – but what does it mean for patients?”

In creative pieces such as stories or poems, hooks can be poetic descriptions or thought-provoking questions; for example, “What if love was like a game of chess? Would you still take risks when all you could lose was checkmate?” 

Whatever genre you write in, having an effective hook will help make sure your content stands out among the rest! 

Hooks in Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Script Writing

Whether you are writing fiction, non-fiction, or even a script, hooks are essential to any good piece of writing. In this section, we will explore how to use hooks in different forms of writing. 

Hooks in Fiction Writing 

Fiction writing is all about storytelling and creating believable characters and worlds. A well-crafted hook gives readers a window into the world you have created, tantalizing them and drawing them in for more.

Your hook should be short, but it should also be powerful enough to impact your readers. It could be a question that hints at something deeper or a statement that leaves your reader pondering what comes next—whatever it is, it should give your reader the compelling urge to keep reading! 

Hooks in Non-Fiction Writing 

Non-fiction writing relies heavily on facts and data, but it can still benefit from a strong hook. Your hook should introduce the article’s topic and provide just enough information to get readers interested without giving away too much information.

Think of it as an appetizer before the main course—it should whet your reader’s appetite for more! 

Hooks in Script Writing  

Script writing is all about dialogue and action scenes; therefore, it must have captivating hooks throughout each act to keep your audience engaged.

Every scene should start with some hook that introduces the plotline and hints at what will happen next—the goal here is to make sure viewers stay glued to the screen until they see how the story ends! 

A good script writer knows how to craft hooks that leave viewers wanting more without revealing too much information too soon.  

Whether you are writing fiction, non-fiction, or scripts for TV shows or movies, make sure to include strong hooks throughout each act to keep your audience engaged until the very end! With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to write captivating content every time!

In conclusion, writing hooks are a powerful tool for captivating your audience and keeping them engaged. By understanding your target audience, exploring their interests, and creating a connection with them, you can craft hooks that will make them eager to read more.

Whether you evoke emotions, pose questions, surprise them, tell anecdotes, or use statistics, the key is to make your hook memorable, impactful, and relevant to your audience. Remember, the hook is just the beginning of your story – the rest is up to you to make it as captivating and thought-provoking as possible.

Additional Resources

  • How to Write a Hook For Your Story [Video]
  • Writing Dynamite Story Hooks: A Masterclass in Genre Fiction and Memoir
  • Ten Secrets to Write Better Stories [Article]

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Willow Tenny

When it comes to writing, Willow Tenny is a true pro. She has a wealth of experience in SEO copywriting and creative writing, and she knows exactly what it takes to produce quality content. On her blog, Willow Writes, Willow shares top writing strategies with both beginners and experienced writers.

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science fiction hooks for essays

10 sci-fi novel opening lines that’ll take your breath away

The opening sentence of a science fiction novel, perhaps more than any other genre, has a lot of work to do. Like all good fiction, it needs to hook you, jolt you into the story and establish the tone. Yet it also needs to get you interested in a whole new alternative world, a place where you’ll live for the duration of the book. It’s a big ask. Nonetheless, there are some masterly examples of opening lines that do that and more. Here are ten that, quite literally, take our breath away.

“I’ve watched through his eyes, I’ve listened through his ears, and I tell you he’s the one.”   Ender’s Game,  Orson Scott Card.

Most of the time starting a novel with dialogue is a big no, no. We don’t know who the character is, so we have no idea of the context or whether we should care what they say. Scott Card gets away with it, though, because the line is simply so intriguing and raises so many questions we need answered.

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” – Neuromancer,  William Gibson.

Another often cited rule of writing is that you should never start a story with a description of the weather. With this stunningly atmospheric opener, Gibson shows why rules are made to be broken. It’s such a vivid image and hints at a very ominous world in a way that prickles the readers’ curiosity.

“A merry little surge of electricity piped by automatic alarm from the mood organ beside his bed awakened Rick Deckard.” – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick

It’s all about the “mood organ” in Dick’s classic opener. The concept is strangely fascinating and conjures up images of an old fashioned instrument with the power to understand a human’s feelings. This opening very much sets the scene for a world we want to know more about.

“Monday morning when I answered the door there were twenty-one new real estate agents there, all in horrible polyester gold jackets.” – The Hacker And The Ants, Version 2.0,  Rudy Rucker.

Surreal in the Hunter S. Thompson road trip mold, this opening freaks you out in so many different ways. Real estate agents are horrific at the best of times, but so many of them dressed so hideously shouts bizarre, bizarre, bizarre. Immediately, you empathise with the narrator but more importantly you want to know what he has done to deserve such a nightmarish visit.

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking 13.”   1984 , George Orwell.

Arguably, one of the most famous sci-fi opening lines, what makes this such a classic is the way it lulls you into thinking nothing is amiss until the very final word. Clocks don’t strike 13, we tell ourselves. Then the full implications of the sentence become apparent. Here is a world where the very nature of time keeping itself has been redefined. Who wouldn’t want to know how and, more importantly, why?

“The morning after he killed Eugene Shapiro, Andre Deschenes woke early.” –  Undertow,  Elizabeth Bear.

It’s the juxtaposition between the everyday and the horrific, which makes this such a fantastic opening sentence. Its added kick comes from the fact the mundane comes after the horrific. It makes you wonder what sort of person could sleep at all and what Eugene Shapiro did to deserve his fate.

“At the end, the bottom, the very worst of it, with the world afire and hell’s flamewinged angels calling him by name, Lee Crane blamed himself.” –   Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea , Theodore Sturgeon.

We love the drama and amazing energy of this opening. Add to that the Blakeian imagery, and you absolutely have to know why Lee Crane blames himself.

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.” – A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy , Douglas Adams

While breathtaking might not be the first adjective that comes to mind when you think of Adams’s classic, this opening ticks all the right boxes. Firstly, the way it underlines the vastness of the universe and, secondly, how it shows how utterly insignificant humans and everything we hold dear are. Brilliant stuff.

“The manhunt extended across more than one hundred light years and eight centuries.”  –  A Deepness In The Sky , Vernor Vinge.

A manhunt is always dramatic, but a manhunt across one hundred light years and eight centuries is obsessive and incredible, both in terms of human endeavour and technology. We want to meet the chaser and the chased and the world that enables them to do such a fantastical thing.

“It was a pleasure to burn.”   Fahrenheit 451 , Ray Bradbury.

Along with Orwell’s magnificent 1984 , Bradbury’s opening line is one of the most famous in science fiction. Succinct yet vivid, it prompts a ton of questions. What was a pleasure to burn? Why was it a pleasure? Who found it pleasurable? Fire is such a sensationally powerful phenomenon, it’s no surprise this line appeals to both our head and our heart.

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Very nice post! Not to be a nitpick, but you forgot to attribute Hitchhiker’s Guide.

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

The Gunslinger, Stephen King

Nailed it! I was disappointed this was not included.

Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

Classic! Love it!!!

Great line, but I’d argue that’s it not strictly sci-fi.

Oh yes. I’ll never forget this line. Still gives me goosebumps. Pity that the books got steadily worse (except the one with the flashback).

Yes this would have been my first choice!

I was going to comment with the same quote. 🙂

Awesome background and post’s not bad either 🙂

“The Building was on fire, and it wasn’t my fault.”

Blood Rites, Jim Butcher ( a Dresden Files novel)

If you did an article about 10 most breathtaking closing lines, at least 8 of them would be Arthur C. Clarke short stories…

“Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.”

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking 13.”

I think that you have misunderstood this line. Clocks do strike thirteen, especially as is revealed later in the book that the entire country of Oceania runs on military time. In civy time it would be 1:00 PM.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Lucideus.

I didn’t misunderstand it. For the vast majority of people who read that line clocks don’t strike thirteen and that’s all that matters. Of course, once you’ve read the book it’s significance becomes obvious. However, I’m working on the premise that readers who are starting a book don’t already know the ending.

My favorite opening line, even if the book it’s attached to is less than stellar, is the opening sentence of Philip Reeve’s book, Mortal Engines:

“It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.”

Good list, but man, language doesn’t mean anything anymore with the use of hyperbole as heavy as “..take your breath away.”

“The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed subcategory”–Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

‘The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed subcategory. He’s got esprit up to here.’

Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson

I love this opening line, but really the opening three or four paragraphs are spectacular. Among the best in scifi.

I put the shotgun in an Adidas bag and padded it out with four pairs of tennis socks, not my style at all, but that was what I was aiming for: If they think you’re crude, go technical; if they think you’re technical, go crude. I’m a very technical boy.

Sorry, didn’t get the attribution in before posting the above. “Johnny Mnemonic” William Gibson

“On my 75th birthday I did 2 things. First I visited my wife’s grave… Then i signed up for the army”

Old man’s War

“When I was quite small I would sometimes dream of a city — which was strange because it began before I even knew what a city was.”

John Wyndham, “The Chrysalids” (1955)

The Hegemony Consul sat on the balcony of his ebony spaceship and played Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp Minor on an ancient but well-maintained Steinway while great, green, saurian things surged and bellowed in the swamps below. A thunderstorm was brewing to the north. Bruise-black clouds silhouetted a forest of giant gymnosperms while stratocumulus towered nine kilometers high in a violent sky. Lightning rippled along the horizon. Closer to the ship, occasional vague, reptilian shapes would blunder into the interdiction field, cry out, and then crash away through indigo mists. The Consul concentrated on a difficult section of the Prelude and ignored the approach of storm and nightfall.

The fatline receiver chimed.

“His followers called him Mahasamatman and said he was a god. He preferred to drop the Maha- and the -atman, however, and called himself Sam. He never claimed to be a god, but then he never claimed not to be a god.” How could you not have this one, from Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny??

“It was time to whip the god” from “The god engines” by John Scalzi

“Call me Jonah”.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. Cheeky enough to steal one of the most recognized opening lines in literature. And the use of Jonah, who brought bad luck with him wherever he ran, tells you what you’re about to be in for.

Beowulf was bad.

Of which Sci-Fi novel is this the first line?

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How to Write an Essay Introduction | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on February 4, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.

A good introduction paragraph is an essential part of any academic essay . It sets up your argument and tells the reader what to expect.

The main goals of an introduction are to:

  • Catch your reader’s attention.
  • Give background on your topic.
  • Present your thesis statement —the central point of your essay.

This introduction example is taken from our interactive essay example on the history of Braille.

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

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Table of contents

Step 1: hook your reader, step 2: give background information, step 3: present your thesis statement, step 4: map your essay’s structure, step 5: check and revise, more examples of essay introductions, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.

Your first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, so spend some time on writing an effective hook.

Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you’re writing about and why it’s interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.

Examples: Writing a good hook

Take a look at these examples of weak hooks and learn how to improve them.

  • Braille was an extremely important invention.
  • The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.

The first sentence is a dry fact; the second sentence is more interesting, making a bold claim about exactly  why the topic is important.

  • The internet is defined as “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities.”
  • The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education.

Avoid using a dictionary definition as your hook, especially if it’s an obvious term that everyone knows. The improved example here is still broad, but it gives us a much clearer sense of what the essay will be about.

  • Mary Shelley’s  Frankenstein is a famous book from the nineteenth century.
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement.

Instead of just stating a fact that the reader already knows, the improved hook here tells us about the mainstream interpretation of the book, implying that this essay will offer a different interpretation.

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Next, give your reader the context they need to understand your topic and argument. Depending on the subject of your essay, this might include:

  • Historical, geographical, or social context
  • An outline of the debate you’re addressing
  • A summary of relevant theories or research about the topic
  • Definitions of key terms

The information here should be broad but clearly focused and relevant to your argument. Don’t give too much detail—you can mention points that you will return to later, but save your evidence and interpretation for the main body of the essay.

How much space you need for background depends on your topic and the scope of your essay. In our Braille example, we take a few sentences to introduce the topic and sketch the social context that the essay will address:

Now it’s time to narrow your focus and show exactly what you want to say about the topic. This is your thesis statement —a sentence or two that sums up your overall argument.

This is the most important part of your introduction. A  good thesis isn’t just a statement of fact, but a claim that requires evidence and explanation.

The goal is to clearly convey your own position in a debate or your central point about a topic.

Particularly in longer essays, it’s helpful to end the introduction by signposting what will be covered in each part. Keep it concise and give your reader a clear sense of the direction your argument will take.

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As you research and write, your argument might change focus or direction as you learn more.

For this reason, it’s often a good idea to wait until later in the writing process before you write the introduction paragraph—it can even be the very last thing you write.

When you’ve finished writing the essay body and conclusion , you should return to the introduction and check that it matches the content of the essay.

It’s especially important to make sure your thesis statement accurately represents what you do in the essay. If your argument has gone in a different direction than planned, tweak your thesis statement to match what you actually say.

To polish your writing, you can use something like a paraphrasing tool .

You can use the checklist below to make sure your introduction does everything it’s supposed to.

Checklist: Essay introduction

My first sentence is engaging and relevant.

I have introduced the topic with necessary background information.

I have defined any important terms.

My thesis statement clearly presents my main point or argument.

Everything in the introduction is relevant to the main body of the essay.

You have a strong introduction - now make sure the rest of your essay is just as good.

  • Argumentative
  • Literary analysis

This introduction to an argumentative essay sets up the debate about the internet and education, and then clearly states the position the essay will argue for.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

This introduction to a short expository essay leads into the topic (the invention of the printing press) and states the main point the essay will explain (the effect of this invention on European society).

In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.

This introduction to a literary analysis essay , about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein , starts by describing a simplistic popular view of the story, and then states how the author will give a more complex analysis of the text’s literary devices.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale. Arguably the first science fiction novel, its plot can be read as a warning about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, and in popular culture representations of the character as a “mad scientist”, Victor Frankenstein represents the callous, arrogant ambition of modern science. However, far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to gradually transform our impression of Frankenstein, portraying him in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.

To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

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Leading science fiction writer Ted Chiang explores technology's impact on writing

Author whose novella was adapted into movie 'arrival' delivers 2024 humanities institute distinguished lecture.

A man sitting in front of an audience smiles

Science fiction author and futurist Ted Chiang smiles during Thursday evening's Humanities Institute Distinguished Lecture at Armstrong Hall on ASU's Tempe campus. Chiang explores complex relationships between science, technology, religion and philosophy in unconventional and insightful ways through his writing. He posed the question about the advancement of communication, starting with the spoken word, progressing to the written word, and evolving into what is next. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Science fiction author Ted Chiang spends a lot of time thinking about language and writing. It’s his livelihood — his work has earned four Hugo and four Nebula awards, among other accolades — but one might argue that language is also a special focus.

His novella “Story of Your Life” — adapted into the 2016 movie “Arrival,” starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner — has at the core of its worldbuilding an alien language that, well, no spoilers, but there’s more to this language and how it affects its users than first appears.

So it wasn’t a surprise that language was the focus of Chiang’s remarks Thursday evening at Arizona State University as the 2024 Humanities Institute distinguished lecturer.

He spoke at Armstrong Hall on the Tempe campus about the evolution of speech to writing, calling written language a form of technological breakthrough. First there was speech — a natural biological function — but writing had to be invented and purposefully taught. No one spontaneously learns to read on their own, Chiang said. Writing changed how we use language.

“The bards of ancient Greece used patterns like (rhyme and meter) to improvise their way through thousands of lines of verse,” he said. “... Nowadays, we think of rhythm and meter as primarily decorative features. They’re an important part of pop music, so much so that we have come to associate them with a lack of seriousness, which may be why their role in modern poetry has declined.

“But before writing was widely used, rhyme and meter were essential mnemonic tools. There was no way anyone could have remembered the Iliad and the Odyssey if they consisted of ordinary prose. But now, because we used the written word instead of our memories, rhyme and meter exist mostly for fun.”

He doesn’t think language is done evolving.

“What is the next step beyond writing itself?” he asked, wondering how technology will influence written language in the future.

“What is the cognitive technology that will succeed writing? Suppose it’s 100 years from now or maybe 1,000 years from now, and you are going to give a presentation. What kind of technology are you going to use to help you figure out what you’re going to say?

“I don’t mean a replacement for word processing software. Is there some sort of cognitive technology similar to writing, but better than writing that will help you articulate your thoughts and choose the words you will actually say when you give your presentation? A successor to writing that can only exist in a digital medium?”

Two men on stools speak in front of an audience

A conversation with Matt Bell , director of ASU’s Worldbuilding Initiative and a professor in the Department of English, followed the lecture. Chiang told Bell that he was skeptical about the role of artificial intelligence in creative writing.

“The question of conscious machines is one that I think is super interesting and raises a lot of philosophical questions, like what kind of respect do we owe to conscious machines that we make?” Chiang said.

“… Right now, we’re just dealing with these autocomplete on steroids, and the fact autocomplete on steroids is kind of spookily good is really weird and interesting, and it might be very useful. … But right now, it seems like they’re pretty terrible at every use that people are proposing.

“They’re definitely interesting in terms of what they reveal about the statistical properties of text … but they do not deserve respect. Anyone who tries to claim differently is trying to sell you something.”

Chiang said he hopes technology’s future influence on the written word won’t “dehumanize” its art.

“A lot of people feel that technology is dehumanizing, and there are plenty of situations where I feel that is accurate,” he said.

“But if there is any technology that is humanizing rather than dehumanizing, it is the written word. The written word helps us to be creative, and it helps us to be, and it helps us to reason. And those are the most human of activities.”

About the program

The Humanities Institute’s Distinguished Lecture program brings to ASU a prominent scholar whose work highlights the importance of humanities research. While on campus, speakers discuss humanities trends and participate in informal sessions, allowing ASU colleagues and students to share related research interests. In Chiang's case, his visit included a screening of "Arrival" and film discussion  on Friday, co-sponsored by ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination. 

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  24. How to Write an Essay Introduction

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