A hook is an introductory sentence, paragraph, or section of a text that gets the reader's attention and makes the reader want to keep reading.
Authors can hook their readers in several ways. Using a setting that is mysterious can be a good hook. Describing engaging characters and their actions can also effectively hook a reader. Sometimes, all an author needs is a carefully crafted sentence to hook a reader. When the reader is left with questions or wanting to know what will happen next, an author has hooked the reader.
In "Pride and Prejudice," Jane Austen uses this sentence to hook her readers:
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
In the famous opening paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens hooks the reader by using short, parallel sentences to describe the time period or setting:
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair . . . "
Harper Lee begins To Kill a Mockingbird by talking a Jem's broken elbow, which leaves the reader wondering how Jem broke his elbow:
"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem's fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury . . . When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem . . . said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out."
Shakespeare hooks the reader at the beginning of Romeo and Juliet by having the chorus foreshadow the untimely deaths of the young lovers:
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.
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