Just a couple of years ago, I thought it was the devil who invented the introduction part of any paper. You are staring at the blinking cursor and spending hours trying to come up with a genius line to open your paper but only dirty jokes pop up in your head. Perhaps, this is how the living hell looks like. We know where the exit door is. We know where to find a cheap essay service. We know how to start an essay.
They say first impressions mean a lot and that is as true for a paper as it is for a human. Whether you are writing a paper for it to be marked or for publication in an academic journal/online blog/magazine, you want your first line to really make a great impression. You want those first few sentences to really grab the readers’ attention, to let them know that among many other things they have read today, this is going to be the killer one. It is not as hard as it sounds. So, how to start off an essay?
How to Begin an Essay
How to begin an essay so that everyone wants to read it on? Do not take it as the hardest part of the whole paper. It is the best opportunity to do a little imaginative writing because the rest of the essay is mainly analytical in nature. So, how to start an argumentative essay? How to start an essay about yourself? How to start an essay introduction? How to start an essay with a quote? All of these questions have the same answer.
How to Start an Argumentative Essay/Persuasive Essay/Narrative Essay
The first thing to note in our “how to start an essay” guide is that you might not actually write your introduction at the very beginning. It may take you a while as you develop your essay to figure out what you are going to say and what your thesis is going to be. Because of that, I tend to suggest that students actually start elsewhere in their paper, start with what they already know. You can begin writing with a specific point or argument and then get broader until you really know what the argument that connects all of your sub-points is. So, let me get this straight.
How to Start off an Essay: The Structure of an Inverted Pyramid
I know what your teacher says while describing how to start off an essay “It should be a hook to grab the reader's attention.” A better metaphor might be the bait rather than a hook. Corny hooks like questions and anecdotes are overused, it is really not quite efficient to use these tools to interest the readers. So, how to start off an essay? Try to use the structure of an inverted pyramid. It is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. You start out with a broad statement which narrows down to your thesis. It will be an organic development of your paper.
If the previous method does not work for you, how to start an essay then? Create a bit of a surprise by telling your unusual opinion on the topic, book, or fact you are writing about. Let us imagine you decided to write on Elwyn White's children's book “Stuart Little.” There is nothing wrong with writing your true opinion and grab the reader's attention just from the start. It may look like this “E. B. White's Stuart Little is a book full of digressions and failure.” It is your broad and abstract statement.
Then, the narrower part of the pyramid is coming – the proves of the initial statement. “He never seems to get anywhere, he crashes the car all the time, and everything goes terribly wrong.” Make sure though you do not have too many specific examples or arguments in your introduction. Save a lot of them for later, for the body paragraphs. Still, it is good at least at this point to give a little bit of flavor as to what is coming up. Do not introduce your topic halfway through your paragraph. You want to start with it as soon as possible.
The next step is to narrow the previous part down. You should start describing what you might think of as a problem. It is really a great answer on your “how to start an essay” question. You want to set up the problem and create tension. Every introduction should be answering a research question and it can be really helpful for you if you actually spell out what that question is. In this case, it is “Why does the book end in failure?” or “Is it even the kid's book?”
Another way to introduce the problem is through appearance. So, something seems to be a certain way but the reality is quite different. It is kind of dichotomy, the split between appearance and reality. “This is how it might appear to many of us, but if we look more closely, this is what we see.”
The peak of your essay is the thesis. You do not have to squeeze everything into just one sentence. Present the main point to the readers and let them know what you are going to talk about in the next paragraphs. To sum up, how to start your essay? What do you want to write in the introduction? A problem, add some kind of tension, and a thesis which resolves the problem. You want to build up to the thesis with enough context so that the reader can make sense of your question and is interested enough to read on.
A topic introduction is always the hardest part for a lot of students. But it really is the jelly and the peanut butter that connects your hook to the thesis.
How to Start an Essay: Other Ways to Grab the Reader’s Attention
Above-mentioned structure is actually only one of the million possible ways of how to start an essay introduction.
Now, granted, starting your paper with the sentence “In this essay, I will” is not the most thrilling use of the English language. Still, I wanted to point out that it is a perfectly valid way to start an essay. You have probably spent a lot of time and efforts choosing the subject matter and so it is possible just to let it speak for itself. Some topics are just naturally interesting. If you are writing an essay on how to start earning $10,000 in a week, then as soon as you start that sentence, I am going to want to read the rest of it immediately. But not all subjects will be as exciting as the mentioned one.
So, here are other types of decent hooks and tips on how to start an essay.
Vivid Description or Scene
If it is a narrative paper, literature review or essay about yourself, drop your reader into a short scene, use imagery to put them immediately into the place and time. It can be a flashback or a snapshot of a moment. It is like the camera focusing on a certain meaningful place. If you do not know how to start an essay, just put your reader into a scene which has something to do with your topic.
Story from Your life or Recent Event
They say you can actually start off with an anecdote. I agree the introduction is like a set up to the joke. But sometimes the joke is hilarious only to you or does not fit into the context of your essay. Why did the chicken cross the road? To go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and see his relatives. Was that funny? Is it related to any topic? I suggest telling a little story from your life. It sets up certain expectations that made you look forward to the punchline.
A part of your job as a researcher or essayist is to explain why the subject matter that you have chosen is important to us now and here. One of the best tips on how to start an essay is to let us know about a recent event. Perhaps, sightings of stingrays have shot up recently or they have dwindled massively. If you are writing a history paper about Roman politics, you might be able to tell how that relates to contemporary politics. You should always be able to find a way to link the subject matter of your essay from whenever it was about to now.
A Surprising Fact
Did you know one in two people are female? Of course, you did, that is not a surprising fact but you get the drift. How to start off an essay? An interesting piece of information that your readers are not likely to know or do not expect to be true is enough to grab the reader’s attention.
“According to an anonymous survey done by University of Nowhere in 2018, high school boys secretly enjoy the music of Justin Bieber and admit to practicing their “hot dance moves” in the mirror to the tune of “baby” song.”
How to Start an Essay with a Quote or a Question?
Assuming this is an essay for undergraduate level or above, you are going to be citing a lot of other people’s research during the essay. So, why not start with a quote? And how to start an essay with a quote? If you are writing on humanities particularly, your essay is essentially going to be kind of a debate between lots of different ideas. So, why not pick one of the more contentious ones? You can start your essay with that and then follow up by either agreeing or disagreeing with it. That way this debate runs all the way through the essay and we get a sense of what it is going to be from the very start.
Another approach you can use in the introduction is a question. Just please, do not use boring ones like “Do you hate school uniforms? I do!” or “Do you think video games are harmful to students?” All of these are so elementary, they are for middle school writing. Here is an example I love.
“Severe acne, baldness, fertility issues. Sounds attractive, guys? How about a deep voice, excessive hair growth, and menstrual irregularities, ladies? These are only a few of appealing attributes of using steroids which people continue to use”.
If our “how to start an essay” guide did not help you at all, reread it one more time, because it was the God of Introductions who dictated us the text of this article.