Read this post to get an awesome grade on your next essay!
Okay, so I can’t exactly promise that by reading this post alone you’ll get an awesome grade on your next paper. But that opening line likely grabbed your attention, right?
You’re still reading this post, so not only did the line serve as an attention grabber, but it compelled you to continue reading because you want to learn how to get a better grade.
That’s the entire purpose of an attention grabber: to get readers to take notice and become interested in what you have to say.
How do you write an attention grabber that works for your paper? Here are a few tips for writing an opening line that deserves to be noticed.
But First… What Not to Do
Before we get into a discussion of how to write attention grabbers, let’s stop for a minute to talk about two things you shouldn’t do.
Don’t write in first person (unless you’re writing a narrative or reflective essay). Most academic essays frown on using first person point of view, so don’t try to make your statement by including a story about yourself or your opinion.
Don’t write in second person. It can be tempting to try to engage your audience by writing a second-person attention grabber that starts with something like “Imagine yourself sitting on the beach…” or “What would you do if…?”
Avoid these tired, boring openings. They’re not only cliche, but they also infuriate profs. (Second-person point of view is also pretty much universally forbidden in formal essays.)
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get our discussion rolling and talk about what you should do.
How to Write Attention Grabbers That Work
When it comes to attention grabbers, one size definitely does not fit all.
What might be a brilliant opening for a description essay will likely be inappropriate for a research paper. (Some attention grabbers, however, can be revised into great openings for different types of papers.)
With that in mind, I’ve included a few types of attention grabbers you might use depending on which type of essay you’re writing.
Narrative essay attention grabbers
A narrative essay tells a story and is one of the few instances in which you’re actually allowed to write in first person.
If you want to get someone interested in hearing your story, try starting with a dialogue quote that might be part of your tale, a strange event from your narrative that intrigues readers, or anything else that will make your audience take notice.
Don’t start with boring old lines like “Last semester, I…,” “When I was five, we…,” or “It was a night I’ll never forget.”
Try something more unique like one of the following openings:
- When I woke up and was finally able to focus, I realized I was lying in a field and was surrounded by five Chihuahua puppies.
- “Never put pizza in the dryer” was his famous line, and I never understood what he meant until years after he first uttered the strange phrase.
Interested in how someone ends up in a field, surrounded by puppies? Obviously. Want to know why someone would tell you not to put pizza in a dryer? Me too—and that’s exactly the result you want. You want people to be interested enough to keep reading.
Looking for more examples of attention grabbers for narrative essays? Check out How to Start a Narrative Essay: 16 Awesome Hooks.
Descriptive essay attention grabbers
A descriptive essay is all about the senses. Your goal is to bring the description to life by incorporating any relevant senses to help readers put themselves in the scene.
It makes sense, then, that an attention grabber for a descriptive essay includes sensory references, right?
Don’t just start listing things for the sake of including senses, though. Write with a purpose. Write to get people interested in reading more about whatever it is you’re describing.
Here are two examples:
- The beauty of one simple flower can create a relaxing aura in the madness of a hectic day.
- One lonely flower mimics the emptiness of the cold, sterile room.
These two examples use the same flower as their focus, but their messages are entirely different based on the writer’s perspective.
In these examples, readers will (hopefully) be intrigued as to why one flower can impact so much. You might, for instance, describe not only the flower but also the surrounding room and your mood while observing the flower.
Interested in seeing how one writer incorporated a hook sentence into a descriptive essay? Read A Vivid Description of the Beach.
Persuasive and argumentative essay attention grabbers
Having a ton or great evidence and lots of support from sources does you no good, though, if readers aren’t first interested in reading your paper.
To get them interested, try one of these types of attention grabbers:
- A startling fact
- A shocking statistic
- An interesting quote
These types of attention grabbers spark curiosity and get people thinking about your topic.
Here are two examples of attention grabbers in a persuasive or argumentative essay:
- In 2016–17, students who borrowed money to attend college ultimately graduated from four-year institutions with an average of $28,500 in debt (CollegeBoard.org).
- “There is scarcely anything that drags a person down like debt.”—P.T. Barnum
If you’re a college student with student loans, you can relate to both of these statements.
Thus, these attention grabbers not only pique readers’ interest with a shocking statistic or interesting statement, but they do so by making a personal connection with readers.
Want to read a persuasive essay that uses a quote as an attention grabber? Take a look at How Speeding Tickets Prevent Traffic Violations.
Want To Learn More About Writing Attention Grabbers?
If you’d like to learn even more about writing attention grabbers that work, take a look at these posts:
- What Is a Hook Sentence? (Infographic)
- How to Write Good Hook Sentences
- How to Start an Essay With a Bang
Not sure if your opening line is enough to keep people reading? Let a Kibin editor help. Our editors will give you honest advice about how well your attention grabber works—or doesn’t.