A compelling essay opening part has to both inform the readers and motivate them to keep reading. There is no single right way to start an essay. Actually, there are countless ways to do this effectively.
11 Ways to Start an Essay
Here are the most common strategies and some creative models for composing an irresistible essay intro.
Introduce your topic
This is probably the most frequent way to begin an essay. Optionally, you can present some of your essay’s sub-points. Since it is an opening to the topic, not a thesis statement, there is no necessity to present solid arguments in this part. Mention the main topic being discussed further along with the paper’s focus.
Answer the question, “Why should I read this?”
From the very beginning, you have to tell your audience why your essay matters. This is an effective way to compel someone to continue reading.
Begin with a quote
Quotes are an engaging way to begin since they take some pressure off the writer. Consider using this opportunity of letting someone else do the hard part of catching the audience’s attention.
Set up a mystery
Normally, our brains hunger for curiosity to be satisfied. By including an introductory sentence with some mystery that is asking to be solved, you make your reader want to close the curiosity loop. If you choose to use this strategy, make sure to read some examples from the experienced authors beforehand.
Tell a story
Even if you are a beginning writer, you can add uniqueness to your essay by treating the intro as a story. Imagine you are a film director setting the stage. Think about the elements that your viewers should see to understand what is going to happen. Play around with such elements as place, time, characters, conflict, etc.
Start with “I”
While many teachers and professors ask students never to include “I” in their essays, some mentors might be more permissible. Sometimes, they even encourage students to use the “I” in their papers to claim ownership over their ideas. This often means moving to a new stage from the beginner essayist. It is fair for students to be held responsible for what they write. Distracting yourself by removing the “I” from your paper is not a way to develop strong arguments. Almost every published author refers to himself/herself in their essays, and you can do so where it is appropriate. Also, just like storytelling, sharing something personal in the opening can provoke the reader’s curiosity. However, some classes and types of papers still discourage including yourself in them. If you have doubts, it is always better to ask your professor.
Start by setting a question
This is a good way to start a paper since the questions ask the audience to think about your topic. Engaging the reader is the primary goal of the essay’s first paragraph. Leading with a question can effectively grab your audience’s attention right away. They will want to know how you answer these questions and will be forced to continue reading with interest.
Stamp of authority
Do you want the introduction of your essay to be really powerful? Then let someone who has more experience do the talking! Calling on an authoritative figure to open your essay is an effective way to set up your topic. Additionally, it removes the pressure from you to sound “smart.”
Brief striking statement
Opening the paper’s topic with a brief, striking statement is often very effective. However, this is a more creative introduction that requires specific skills. Often, the shorter sentences are the most difficult to write well.
Begin with a “contrary to” or “fill the gap” sentence
One more frequent way to start an essay is by setting yourself up to contradict a common belief. Such a strategy allows you to position yourself against other critics and often adds some clout to your argument if used right. Before using this technique, make sure to read lots of examples of this strategy. Do your research to see how other writers use contradiction and fill in the gap strategies to develop irresistible introductions.
Some Do’s and Don’ts of Writing an Introduction
As we have already mentioned, there is no single right way to compose an essay’s opening. The chosen strategy should depend on factors like the topic, the publication’s tone, and audience. However, here are some things to do and not to do while writing an introduction:
- Do keep the opening part brief. There are no strict rules, but usually, three to four sentences are enough.
- Do not waste words. Never use filler words and phrases. It is always helpful to practice clean writing in general, but it is especially significant in an introductory paragraph to catch the audience’s attention.
- Do consider removing the first sentence. Often, the first sentence or two is a kind of writer’s warmup. Try to eliminate it and see if it makes the opening stronger.
- Do not oversell it. Remember that whatever you promise in the introduction must be delivered in an essay itself.
- Do consider drafting the rest of your paper before you move to the opening part. In most cases, writing the whole essay will reveal the best way to introduce it. If your opening does not flow from the beginning, work on the rest of the paper, and come back to the intro after the essay is complete.
Dedicate enough time to thoroughly composing and editing the opening part of your essay. Remember that this part is your main chance to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to keep reading the whole piece.