I have to write a style analysis essay on the short story "Was it a Dream" by Guy de Maupassant and I'm getting stuck on the attention grabber. It should be pretty easy, but it isn't. I was wondering how to write a good attention grabber.

  • I'm not familiar with the story. What is it about? Emphasize what is unique or special about the subject, exaggerating slightly in an "attention grabber" line is kind of expected.
    – DWKraus
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 13:58
  • As a quick overview, I'd personally try to give the woman a name: Maya (but in the philosophical way) britannica.com/topic/maya-Indian-philosophy
    – DWKraus
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 14:05
  • 1
    I think it would help answer if you could expand on what you mean by "attention grabber" what are the parameters? What are you trying to do with it? Also, what specifically are you struggling with? The more information you can give about your problem the better chance their is of us providing a useful answer. Note that request to write it for you are off topic, but we can provide advice on how to write it.
    – linksassin
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 7:42

1 Answer 1


Keep in mind why your audience is reading your paper. An academic essay does not need an attention grabber. Instead, it needs a clear statement of your thesis and an overview of what your argument will be.

This is because people do not read academic papers for enjoyment. Instead, they read them to learn something. If you're writing this paper for a journal or as part of a communique to your peers, your readers will want to glean what you have to say as quickly and clearly as possible. If you're writing it for a class, your teacher wants to be able to assess your knowledge of the story and your ability to write in a formal setting. In both cases, something clever but divorced from the meaning of the rest of your paper will only serve as a distraction.

(This is in contrast to writing fiction. If you were writing a story or a comedy essay, burying your meaning between the lines with poignant vignettes would be a strength. People read those pieces of writing to be entertained and let their imaginations run wild. But that's not the context you're in.)

My suggestion really is to keep your introduction dry and to the point. Figure out what the main idea of your essay is and state it right away. Then figure out the meat and structure of your argument and give a quick overview of where you're going. It's OK if it doesn't grab attention. If people are interested in the content of your writing for its own sake, they'll appreciate the no-nonsense approach that gets them right into what you have to say. If they're not interested, then there's no way to manufacture that interest in them in the first place.

If you're writing this for a class, it's possible that your teacher is saying that an "attention-grabbing" introduction is part of their grading rubric. And you'll occasionally come across formal pieces of writing that have more involved and clever introductions. So writing a more interesting introduction isn't out of the question.

If you are required to include a hook for your class, you really don't have to overthink it much. You can pick out a famous quote that relates to your main idea or tell a very very short vignette that relates to your argument. Pick something easy and obvious and phone it in. What your teacher is looking for is that you know how to write an introduction with a hook. They're not looking to actually be impressed by how you say it. This isn't an insult to them at all. If they're a smart and reasonable person - and I assume they are - they know that there's no way to take a dry, somewhat forced homework prompt and turn it into a gripping tour de force. Instead, they have the good sense and respect towards you to just want to see you practice writing. So if you give them something that checks off the boxes, they'll be satisfied that when you really have something you truly want to say, you'll have the tools to say it with style and confidence.

If you do write an introduction like this, keep it short. The most important part is still the statement of your main theme and an overview of your argument.

If you're writing a catchy introduction for an essay you have more control over, you have more room to be inventive. I can't tell you how to write a hook for something that's personal enough that you want to say it for your own sake. But I will say that it's worth your while to consider whether a clever introduction is really worth the effort. Your readers want to hear what you have to say. Are you certain you want to make them sit through a short story before you give it to them? If you are, then I think you already have a good idea what the hook you want to write is. I can't give you advice on how to write something you've already decided on; you need to write it as you know it needs to be written for yourself. If you aren't certain, then maybe it's best to accept that your paper serves a more functional purpose. Tell your readers what you have to say and trust that they have their own good motivations for listening to you.

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