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As the name of the term suggests, the hook is designed to capture the reader's attention and draw him into the work that he is reading. This is always desirable, insofar as writing is a form of communication and its intended purpose is to make the reader pay attention to it. This has become especially important in recent times as a result of the wide range of material competing for attention through websites, social media, and so on.  

Introduction - Hook

In truth, the term hook means much the same thing in a literary context that it means within the context of going fishing. If you were interested by that previous line, then that line itself successfully served as a hook. A hook is a catchy or punchy line that can be found near the beginning of a piece of text. Its primary purpose is to catch the reader's attention and draw him in. 

Adding interest to writing

Here are some examples for you of the literary term hook used correctly within the context of real sentences. 

"The newspaper columnist worked hard to find a good hook for his article that would differentiate it from the myriad other articles on the same subject that could be found on the Internet." 

"The poet found the concept of the hook distasteful; he insisted that consciously using a hook was the same thing as selling out, and that the reader should appreciate the work for its own beauty." 

"The student made an attempt at using a hook in his term paper, but the professor pointed out that his specific image was so cliched by now that it could not adequately serve the purpose."

In case you are still a little unclear about what a hook is, here are a couple rules of usage for your reference. 

  1. A hook is simply a way to catch the reader's attention to a piece of text; what is being "hooked" is in fact the readers attention. The hook usually refers to one or two sentences at most, although it could also perhaps refer to several pages, depending on the length of the relevant work as a whole. 
  2. The hook is always found at the beginning of the relevant passage of text. This is logical, since if the hook were located further along in the text, the reader may actually lose attention before reaching it, with the result that the hook would have never gotten the chance to successfully fulfill its purpose. 

Hook - More than a fishing tool

The significance of the hook is surely rooted in the very nature of human existential experience. There are (and have always been) various stimuli competing for a given person's attention at any given time; and as such, if a writer has wanted to get the potential reader's attention, it has been necessary for him to think about how to draw the reader into his work and make them feel like they would like to invest further time in reading all of the relevant text. Without the hook, the potential reader may just move on and decide to read something else. 

This problem regarding the attention of the audience has become especially relevant since the rise of the Internet and social media. People now have an unprecedented level of stimuli competing for their attention; they have far more choices regarding what or what not is deserving of their attention. In this context, the hook becomes especially important, for obvious reasons. On the other hand, though, since everyone knows the hook is important, it may degenerate into a cliche and thus fail to actually catch attention (since the hook has become commonplace). This leads into the need to develop more creative ways of drawing attention to oneself.

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