Matter Chatter

The Art of the Hook

Don’t bore me. I’m not being mean, I’m offering my best advice for getting someone to read your writing. Whether it’s a press release, a pitch, a blog post, or a Tweet, you’ve got to grab that reader right away. You’ve got to hook ‘em.

So make that first line a great one. Here’s how:

Be excited. Your tone matters, maybe even more so than the specific words you use. Find an angle that gets you pumped – a trend, a statistic, a new product or feature – and build from there.

Be clear. Go ahead and get to the point. Know what’s important to your client and why readers would care. Be sure to prioritize the messages so that the most important point comes first.

Be succinct. Cut unnecessary words. Use good verbs (don’t run quickly. Sprint!). If you get stuck, think about how you’d write each sentence for Twitter.

Be genuine. Think for a moment about another kind of opening line, the pick-up line: bad ones are notoriously bad. They’re funny because they’re slimy. If your opener makes you want to run away, chances are the reader will have a similar reaction.

For some inspiration, pay attention to openers that work for you in books (here are some famous ones), articles, and even when striking up a conversation with a stranger. It won’t take long to pinpoint what bores you and what hooks you.

Tell me, what are your favorite first lines?