Hook Your Reader from the First Line

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Have you ever moved on to the next article in your favorite magazine after a paragraph—maybe even the first sentence, because it didn’t grab you?

You may have missed a great story or the advice you needed, but I’m with you. I only have so much time for reading, and I want to spend it on something terrific.

Be the writer who hooks readers immediately by trying these five tips for your lead.

  1. Use clever dialogue: Never tell a child, “Go clean your room!” With an opening like that, it would be difficult for a reader to set the article aside without finding out more.
  2. Surprising information: In a culture where the divorce rate is about 50 percent according to divorcerate.org, there is still a large population of married couples who love one another and are actually happy. This surprised me, since I was once divorced and wondered if anyone could have a truly happy marriage, so I used it to open, “Advice from Happily Married Couples,” published in The Lookout magazine.
  3. Intriguing question: Is money driving you crazy? This lead, for an article in a local newspaper, hooked readers who wanted help as over spenders. Use questions like these to tap into felt needs.
  4. Startling statement: My stepchildren love me! There’s a first line to cause a reader to sit up and notice. Many articles are written about how to navigate the difficult waters of a blended family, but I wanted to encourage stepparents with this article in Living with Teenagers.
  5. Unusual circumstance: I looked around my beautiful new house and then sat down and cried! I hoped it would seem unusual for a woman to feel sad about moving to a lovely new home. Apparently it did, because I sold this article to numerous magazines and book compilations.

What hooks have you used to entice readers?

Karen O’Connor is a CWG mentor and a conference speaker. Visit her online.

Hook image: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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