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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Application Essays
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Writing Part One: The Beginning

  • A hook is some element at the beginning of your writing that captures your reader’s attention.
  • To write a good hook:
    • Start with an arresting image.
    • Choose something that would pique yourinterest, such as a secret or a tantalizing promise.
    • Use the element of surprise.
    • Have fun!
  • A thesis statement is the main idea of your essay—usually a one- or two-sentence summation of what you’re writing about.
  • To find your thesis statement, jot down ideas as you’re sketching out your essay. The idea you understand best, or think about most, will probably end up as your thesis.
  • In a traditional essay, the thesis statement goes at the end of the introduction—usually the last sentence of the first paragraph. However, the thesis may be found as early as the first sentence or as late as the very last sentence.
  • For good examples of great hooks and thesis statements (and all-around great essay writing), I recommend Spider Robinson’s book The Crazy Years: Reflections of a Science-Fiction Original. It’s a collection of his newspaper columns for the Toronto Globe & Mail. Many of these columns were reprinted on his website, www.SpiderRobinson.com.
  • When in doubt, use your most audacious hook and your strongest thesis statement; read good writing and see how those writers do it; and have fun!

Writing Part One: The Beginning

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:09
  • What is a Hook? 1:11
  • Famous First Sentences 1:26
    • Example 1
    • Example 2
    • Example 3
    • Example 4
  • How to Write a Good Hook 3:56
    • Start with an Arresting Image
    • Use an Idea That Piques Your Interest
    • Use Surprise
    • Have Fun!
  • Your Thesis Statement 11:27
  • How to Find Your Thesis Statement 11:46
    • Make a List of Strongest Ideas
    • Thesis Will be the Idea You Can Write About Most Ably
  • Where to Place Your Thesis Statement 12:47
    • In a Traditional Essay
    • First Sentence in Essay
    • At the End
  • When in Doubt 17:05