Surprisingly, the introduction of a paper or report is often the most difficult to write. Just go with the flow and leave that section for last. Draft the rest of your paper. Once that’s done, use one of these attention-grabbers to build your introduction around. You’ll have that essay written in no time.
State a statistic
Statistics are a great way to make your reader sit up and take notice. A long article or even a short essay takes time to read. A cleverly wielded statistic can persuade hesitant readers to go all the way with your piece. Just be sure to refer to your source or list it at the end of your paper.
“In February 2015, the U.S. unemployment rate was 5.7 percent overall but just 2.8 percent for adults with a bachelor’s degree.1 So while many people say that a college diploma doesn’t mean much anymore, statistics show that isn’t true.”
Pose a question
If you’re not sure what kind of statement to make, then don’t make one at all. Ask a question instead. Write down those questions you had in mind when you chose the topic of your essay. They’re likely the same ones your reader will have in mind. He or she will be more likely to stick with you to the end.
“Why does the United States have a two-party political system? Is this really democracy? Can the system ever be changed?”
Make a joke
Not necessarily a one-liner. But a little laughter goes a long way. Of course, kidding doesn’t go with all topics, so use some common sense when going this route. Jokes work well with personal essays and lighter subject matter.
“If rhinoplasty weren’t a thing, today’s celebrities very well might be a completely different lineup.”
Offer a quotation
Quotations were the original tweets. A pithy saying has a lot of impact. In fact, many popular Twitter accounts churn out quotations and not much else. Because a quotation is easy to remember, it will make your essay memorable.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ Mahatma Gandhi’s words are especially important in today’s society of amateur online critics who hide passively behind their keyboards.”
Start with a story
A whole story in one paragraph? Sure. There’s an entire market for super-short “flash” fiction. With a little creativity, you can tell a story in your introduction and leave your reader dying to know what else you have to say.
“I spent my childhood summers at my grandparent’s home in the woods of upstate New York. Every so often, a three-legged doe would appear in their backyard with her small herd. That deer taught me a lot about acceptance, patience, and perseverance.”
Refer to a song, movie, or book title
Cliches are undesirable, but a reference to a title that most people know is a good way to get attention. Consider the demographics of your audience before going this route. A reference to a song by Daft Punk will be lost on most senior citizens.
“‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.'” This goofy Monty Python song has carried me through some of my darkest days and is now my personal anthem. But I was not always so optimistic.”
Go for shock value
“Shocking” doesn’t necessarily mean “inappropriate.” An unexpected sentence or startling tidbit will get your audience’s attention immediately. Once you’ve made a strong impression, they’ll want to hang in there with you for the long haul.
“When I shaved my head in 2011, I wasn’t ill or making a political statement. It was just something I’d always wanted to do.”
These seven devices are all you need to start your essay strongly. Pick your favorite and base your introduction around it. You might even have fun in the process!
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