Writing Hooks: Man Bites Dog During Sunday Sermon
“Man bites dog”? That’s an old journalistic expression. It’s not news if a dog bites a man, but it’s a front-page story if a man bites a dog. That’s the sort of thing that gets attention.
In today’s digital age, attention is a scarce commodity. With so much content available at our fingertips, it’s essential for Christian writers to capture readers’ attention quickly and effectively. A compelling hook is essential to drawing readers in and keeping them engaged with a story. I learned that years ago from a man named Bob Walker, who owned the largest independent Christian magazine in the world. I was an editor there and also frequently wrote feature stories. I edited the work of others, but Bob edited my work. The first thing he would do would be to slash my ledes. I learned they had to be sharp, short, and fascinating enough to engage people and keep them reading.
Here are some ways you can create hooks for both book chapters (or sections) and blog posts.
Start with a Question or a Problem
One of the best ways to grab readers’ attention is to pose a question or present a problem that they can relate to. This could be a hypothetical question, such as “What would you do if Jesus invited you to lunch?” or a real-world problem, such as “How can we solve the issue of anti-Christian bias?” By starting with a question or problem, you immediately create a sense of curiosity and intrigue that compels readers to keep reading.
Use a Surprising Fact or Statistic
Did you know the global rate for washing hands after using the toilet is under 20 percent? It’s true! That’s the kind of surprising fact or statistic that challenges readers’ assumptions or beliefs. This immediately captures readers’ attention and encourages them to read on to learn more.
Tell a Story
Humans are hardwired to respond to stories, so incorporating storytelling into your writing is a great way to grab readers’ attention. Whether you’re telling a personal anecdote or weaving a narrative around a particular topic, storytelling can be a powerful tool for engaging readers and holding their interest. Did my little true story about Bob Walker keep you reading?
Humor is another effective way to grab readers’ attention and create a connection with them. Whether you’re using sarcasm, irony, or self-deprecating humor, a well-placed joke or witty comment can make your writing more relatable and engaging. Humor is the hardest hook to use, so it’s important to use it in moderation and make sure that it’s appropriate for your audience and the topic you’re writing about.
Use Quotes or Expert Opinions
Incorporating quotes or expert opinions into your writing can lend credibility to your argument and provide readers with a fresh perspective on a particular topic. By starting with a quote or expert opinion, you immediately capture readers’ attention and encourage them to read on to see how the quote or opinion is relevant to the rest of the story. One of the important tricks about using quotes like this is the segue. You want to make a smooth transition from the quote to your own content. One of the best ways is to offer an opinion, either positive or negative, about what the expert said. Then, move to the heart of your discussion of the mat
Use a Provocative Statement
“Man bites dog” is a provocative statement. But their are millions of statements that are better. Think about your audience. What will trigger them in a way that is not too perplexing for them? . By starting with a bold or controversial statement, you create a sense of tension and conflict that encourages readers to keep reading to see how the issue is resolved.
Headlines and headers are important. They are like the worm on a hook. But it is your lede that catches the fish. There are many techniques that writers can use to create hooks that attract and hold reader interest. Whether starting with a question or problem, using humor, or using statistics, the key is creating a sense of curiosity, intrigue, and connection with your readers. By mastering the art of the hook, you can ensure that your writing captures readers’ attention and keeps them engaged from beginning to end.