Jan 242012

This guest post is by Andrea Wren from Butterflyist.com,

Did you know that I like to have sex on roller coasters? Yes, there’s nothing that does it for me more than wondering if my partner will puke at the point of, um, no return. Okay I’m fibbing. I can’t even imagine how difficult big dipper hanky panky would be, but I got you listening, didn’t I?

While I was being a little devious, and you’re now going to be a tiny bit disappointed that I’m not going to talk about my fetish for fairground frolics, I’ve demonstrated two things:

  • A strong hook in the introductory paragraph of your post is crucial to grab the reader’s interest.
  • Your hook should be linked to what you’re actually writing about, otherwise the reader will feel like they’ve been duped once they continue.

But then, seeing as the title already told you what this post was going to be about, I can be excused. You knew I wasn’t going to be talking about my fictional amusement park passions, so I haven’t hoodwinked you after all!

But I did gain attention.

First impressions…

They count, don’t they? Unlike networking events or dinner parties, where we may be forced to stay making small-talk with a person we’ve decided we don’t like, when we’re reading blogs, we have a choice. And we don’t have to stick around. Once you’ve got your title, you have to think carefully about the all-important first impression that will follow.

So how do you write a winning intro that will make your reader read on?

Find a relevant hook

This is key. A “hook” has that name for a reason—it’s designed to capture the reader as an angler would a fish. You lay the bait with your title, and then your hook (the first sentence or two of the opening paragraph) should snatch hard enough that even the wriggliest of wrigglers won’t get loose.

How outlandish you can afford to be (a la the tabloid press) depends on the context of the writing, and how confident a writer you are. But even the most conservative of business blog posts can be strongly hooked.

Whether you begin with humor or with a serious quote, a good hook will intrigue the reader, or challenge them, and draw them into finding out where your opening gambit leads.

Therefore, it’s useful to start with a curious or unusual fact connected to the post, a question, or something that

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