Hook Line and Sinker...Kilian Ch.3

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A link on a front page should have two parts--a hook and a blurb--though both may appear as a single word or phrase. The hook--a term borrowed from magazine writing--is introductory words that grab reader attention.  --Kilian, Ch.3

 

As soon as I read this section of the book, I immediately thought back to my journalism days in high school. My advisor could never stress the importance of creating a solid lead to grab the readers attention. In his book, Kilian offers multiple examples for proper use of "hooks." However, I don't agree with all of his methods...

Quotation Marks:   I never was a big fan of starting an article with a quote. Maybe I was just stubborn, but I always felt like if I was going to start a story with a quote, it'd better be one phenomenal quote.

Question:   I'm not so into the rhetorical questions either. What happens if a person reads the rhetorical question to themselves, answers it, and never bothers to read your page? Opps. Your bad. Now you're out of luck. I guess if the question is really thought-provoking, it might be okay, but I don't understand why anyone would ever ask a simple yes or no question to start a paper or article or even web page.

Unusual statement:   I LOVE starting my work with one of these. What better way to grab a reader's attention than to force them to think intently about a statement you've posed. If I had to choose between a question and a statement, I'd always opt for the statement.

Comparisons/contrasts:    There's nothing really wrong with starting with one of these, but I still don't think it's the best option. It's better to start by introducing the topics at hand, rather than criticizing and comparing them before readers really have the opportunity to dive into your page. Save this for later.

News peg:    I'm all about the news pegs. It's always good to provide alternate sources for your opinions, so what better way to do that than to quote another site's comments on a current event? (oops, that's a rhetorical question isn't it....)

Promise of conflict:    This could go either way. On one hand, the reader might agree with your statement against a specific cause or ideal and become eager to read more. On the other hand, if the reader disagrees with your rebuke, you might be saying goodbye to yet another possible reader.

Direct address:   This depends on just how formal your page is. The type of page also comes into play here. Remember tha the "you" attitude depends on you not being selfish and gabbing soley about yourself...

Rebuttal:    Just like the promise of conflict, this could be a good or bad hook. The bottomo line here is that we need to acknowledge that not everyone in our audience will necessarly agree with our own opinions.

 

So I've basically criticized every suggestion Kilian has offered now, so maybe I should state which one I prefer. When faced with writing a strong lead for a paper (or for a page in the future), I plan to stick to either news pegs or unusual statements, because readers love the element of surprise.

3 Comments

Jed Fetterman said:

I think that a question is a good way to get the reader thinking about the questions that your paper is asking. Of course, the downside is that you could make it sound like you think the reader is stupid, because asking your paper's questions explicitly is like hitting someone on the head with a baseball bat. But there are times when subtlety is not in your best interest, like the argumentative essays that my class has been doing in Thinking and Writing. Confusion is not to your advantage when making an argument.

Alex Hull said:

I think it's great that you're really taking a stand on these different techniques. It shows that you're making progress in your writing style because you're understanding what works for you. But I think that is the main point. Unusual statements are what work for you. The rest of the ideas can be used efficiently just as you use unusual statements.

Jessie Krehlik said:

I guess I'm just letting my old copy-editing personality resurface. I haven't hard-core edited an article since May of last year, so I'm dying here. This chapter just reminded me of my Journalism I class. We spent a good two weeks learning about what leads work and which ones don't. Thanks for the feedback.

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