Good ways to start off an essay introduction

Are you writing an essay about Moby Dick? Perhaps an anecdote about that time your friend read Moby Dick and hated it is not the best way to go. The same is true for statistics, quotes, and other types of information about your topic. Starting your essay with a definition is a good example of one of these conventions.

At this point, starting with a definition is a bit boring, and will cause your reader to tune out. If you are having trouble with your intro, feel free to write some, or all, of your body paragraphs, and then come back to it. Convince the reader that your essay is worth reading. Your reader should finish the introduction thinking that the essay is interesting or has some sort of relevance to their lives. A good introduction is engaging; it gets the audience thinking about the topic at hand and wondering how you will be proving your argument.

Four basic strategies on how to start an essay with an attention grabber

Good ways to convince your reader that your essay is worthwhile is to provide information that the reader might question or disagree with. Once they are thinking about the topic, and wondering why you hold your position, they are more likely to be engaged in the rest of the essay. Marilee Brooks-Gillies. This was truly all I needed from the beginning. Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think your advice will actually help me to start well.

Thanks you very much!


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Good points but I would add about establishing a decent hook to attract attention to an essay. Thank You. It has helped me to know that can fit else where in the introduction paragraph. This is, perhaps, a bit dramatic, but I feel it would clearly make the point. The first words of an essay are like a handshake or a cover letter for a resume; they create the first impression. If they are strong, confident and jovial, then you are setting yourself up for success. Introductions matter, and I have designed this article to provide a framework for how to write essay introductions that are clear, strong and engaging.

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Writing the introduction

The concepts are applicable to the essays of middle school and high school writing all the way up through writing in college and graduate school. The phrases mentioned above, along with countless others, are the perfect way to completely destroy your essay before it even begins. If you begin your essay with these words, or anything even remotely close to them, no one who is not being paid or who is not your mother will ever read your paper—and even they will groan within themselves as they read. Sadly, many students address only the first of them. For the most part, this makes perfect sense.

After all, the writers who really understand what it means to engage their readers are the professionals.


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Students, on the other hand, have a captive audience. Teachers and professors are paid to read the work of their students, so why should the student care if their writing is engaging?

Beginning the Academic Essay

Consider this situation, which both I and numerous other teachers and professors I know experience regularly: I assign a three to five page paper to a classroom of twenty-five students. A few weeks later, I now have a book of around one hundred pages to read, written by twenty-five different authors who are writing this because they have to, not because they want to, so their apathy is literally dripping off the pages. Imagine how I will react when I come across a student who finally takes the time to generate some genuine interest in the subject and catch my attention!

This is why students should care.


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The wrong way to begin an essay is to simply and dryly explain what the essay is about. While this is acceptable in elementary school, and perhaps up through a certain stage of middle school, it is unacceptable by late middle school, through high school and most certainly at the collegiate level. These points are just as relevant to college students and adults, however, because, while the points a college student would make might be more nuanced and detailed, many still write introductions that follow the same basic pattern.

Abraham Lincoln accomplished many great things during his time as president of the United States.

How to Start Your Essay

He saw the United States through the Civil War, helping to keep the country from falling apart and signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all the African Americans in the United States from slavery. Abraham Lincoln was one of the great presidents of the United States. This introduction clearly establishes the purpose of the essay and lists many accomplishments of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. As such, it is both adequate and also painfully boring. A good essay begins with an invitation into a rich discussion.

The writing is crafted in such a way that it sparks anticipation and excitement in the heart and mind of the reader. Simply stating your opinion or the topic of the essay will never accomplish this. Engaging writing requires thoughtful attention to creating a hook for the reader. Hooks can be created in an infinite number of ways, but here is a list of approaches that often prove valuable. Note that this is a list that you have likely seen before most schools provide such a list , but be sure to read on as it is in the implementation of these ideas that they either succeed or fail:. Each of these options presents an approach to opening an essay that can work if it is implemented effectively.

Of course, implementing them effectively is where things get tricky. Depending on the topic of your essay and the resources you have available, it can be very effective to begin with a direct quotation from a relevant source on your topic that brings up key ideas or presents controversial opinions. You, as the author, can then respond to them and establish your position in relation to this statement. Be certain the quotation you choose directly relates to your chosen topic. Opening essays with questions is dangerous because they only work if the question causes your reader to genuinely wonder about something.

Simplistic or obvious questions turn your reader off, so try another approach unless you are sure you have a question that really ties your essay topic to something personal for the reader or to some intriguing idea in the world.

IELTS Writing Task 2: How to write an introduction

As a fiction writer, this is my personal favorite. There are two options available here. One approach is to tell a true story in close-up intimate detail that directly relates to your topic. The other option is to craft a story around the factual details of your topic and helps to humanize it—taking your reader into the personal human experience of someone in a given situation related to your subject.

This one is also a tricky way to go unless you have come across a very striking fact or are dealing with a controversial subject. In order for this approach to work, the statement must include something that will genuinely surprise the reader, which is difficult to do. In addition to shock value, the statement must also have direct relevance to your topic so that a strong transition can still be made into your central argument.

How to Start an Your Essay - A Research Guide for Students

Similes and metaphors are among the most powerful linguistic devices available. When used well, they can bring profound interest and insight to a given topic.

Some general advice about introductions

Using them well is, of course, the hard part. The trick to using them well is be sure that the nature of the symbol you use shares a great deal in common with the subtleties of the topic you are discussing. The broader and more specific those connections are, the stronger its linguistic power. The very best way to use a simile or metaphor in an essay is to introduce it with the opening paragraph and then continue to weave the connections between the symbol and the subject throughout the entire essay, eventually bringing the idea back together in the conclusion to create a circular structure to the writing.

This requires insightful thinking and hard writing work, but makes for an exceptional essay. Keep in mind that, contrary to what is often taught in elementary school, the opening paragraph does not necessarily require a complete listing of the main points of your essay, though that can be helpful at times. The only non-negotiable requirement for an introduction is a direct and clear statement of purpose somewhere within that first paragraph.

With more creative openings, it generally occurs near the close of the first paragraph, anticipating the deeper explanations that take place in the body paragraphs of the essay.