How many times have you wanted to write a simple text to someone but didn’t know how to start? We face that “struggle” every day. That happens even when you want to have a serious conversation with someone, you don’t know to begin. Everything has its introduction, from the day-to-day conversation and text messages to essays. It is impossible to avoid writing essays as a student and the chances are high you’ll have to write a few if you decide to have a career as a freelance writer.
You get your topic (or come up with one on your own), do your research, create an outline, and the writing process is ready to commence. But, how to start the essay? What to write in an introduction? Why is an introduction so important in the first place?
As a writer, I know how frustrating it can be, even though I love writing essays. To help you out, I am going to provide useful info and tips you should implement when it’s time to submit the next essay to your professor or client.
Starting an essay – why should I bother?
It is not uncommon for people to assume that introduction is nothing else than a paragraph you have to write and get it over with so you can move on to the body paragraphs. When it comes to essays, every part is equally important and contributes to the overall quality of your paper. Introductions and conclusions are just as important as the paragraphs in the middle.
The primary purpose of the introduction is to inform a reader (or more of them) about your topic and let them know what you’re going to discuss throughout your work. Basically, it gives some info about stuff people can expect to see in your essay. In fact, introductory paragraph is essential for every essay you write without it, you risk leaving your reader feeling disoriented and confused. As a result, he/she may feel reluctant to read the rest of your essay.
What’s more, beginning of an essay is the time when you make the first impression. You already know that first impressions are important. The introduction is your chance to make a reader feel interested, get his or her attention, and make others want to read your paper. Just think about it, do you continue reading something if the introduction of that article or essay is bad and uninteresting?
Remember how you always watch a trailer before you, actually, see the movie? If you don’t like the trailer, you don’t have high hopes for the film either. Well, consider the introduction as a trailer for the rest of your essay. Your job is to make that trailer appealing, intriguing, and able to catch a reader’s attention.
To sum up, introductions are important because they:
- Indicate the topic of your essay
- Give an idea of essay organization
- Establish the tone of your essay
- Provide background information on the importance of that particular topic
What should the introduction contain?
It is way easier to start your essay when you follow a certain structure guidelines. When you’re about to write your essay, you always make sure to follow a certain outline in a bid to submit a well-crafted paper and get good grades. Outlines also keep you on the right track and ensure your work has all elements that one essay requires. Introductions are similar. To start your essay properly you have to make sure it contains three elements:
- Bridge or background information
- Thesis statement
The hook is the first sentence of your introduction and its role is to grab reader’s attention. As you can conclude by its name, this element of the introductory paragraph has the purpose to “hook” a reader and make him/her interested in what you have to say. This is where you make that first impression I mentioned earlier. And you don’t really get a second chance to make the first impression. The hook is meant to intrigue your reader and makes him really want to keep going and read the rest.
Bridge or background information
You created a powerful, fun, interesting hook and now what? Well, a reader has to know more about the purpose of your essay, importance of the topic, why is it relevant in the first place. Right after the hook, your job is to move on to providing background information, two-three sentences that act as a bridge or transition between the hook and a thesis statement. Remember, the information you provide has to be relevant to the overall topic of your essay and logically connect all elements of your introduction.
The thesis statement is, basically, a sentence that states the primary idea of an essay and helps control ideas within your paper. You should consider a thesis statement as a road map for the paper, not only it tells the reader what to expect from the essay, but it also helps you stick to the subject.
The ideal thesis statement is the one which contains an arguable point, a position on the argument, and a glimpse of the essay’s structure. It accounts for the last sentence of the introduction, but its importance is tremendous.
Bear in mind that when writing a thesis statement, you should avoid saying “I think”. Why? As mentioned above, the thesis statement is supposed to be arguable. So, when you say “I think this and this” nobody can argue that is not what you think. Also, it prevents a reader to find out where you are headed with that particular argument.
A good thesis has to be the point that someone could argue against. The reason is simple; it allows you to develop an argument, find reliable evidence to prove you’re right. At the same time, you’re able to mention or dispute opposing views. A reader may or may not agree with the thesis statement, but he/she will want to read your essay to learn more about the topic and the argument you’re making. Sounds complicated? Not really, these examples will simplify everything.
I think that children over the age of 12 should have smartphones.
Children over the age of 12 should have smartphones because they promote responsibility, assist with organization, enhance independence, and have educational benefits.
The first example, bad thesis, is a sentence that others can’t dispute. That is your opinion and no one can say “no, you don’t really think that”. Plus, what is the purpose of that thesis statement and essay to begin with?
On the other hand, the second example is debatable. A reader can agree or disagree with you and, at the same time, the thesis statement shows the direction of your essay – that you’ll develop an argument and support it with evidence proving benefits of smartphones for children.
Different ways to start your essay
Now that you know basic elements the beginning of your essay should contain, let’s discuss different ways to start.
Ask a question
One of the easiest and most effective ways to get reader’s attention is to ask a question. That way, your reader will think about your subject and he/she will want to find out how you answered that question in an essay. The type of question depends on the topic, in most cases, it’s enough to ask something a reader can relate to.
I love statistics and use that info whenever I can. The beginning of an essay is an ideal opportunity to include some fun, interesting fact or statistics in your wok. Everybody loves to read fun facts and they also provide some background information about the topic. For some serious topics, you can start an essay with shocking statistics which will immediately grab a reader’s attention simply because it’s hard for them to believe the information could be true. So, they want to keep reading to find out more.
Don’t know how to start an essay? Well, why don’t you include a brief story about a topic, funny anecdote, whose purpose is to set the scene and a tone of your paper? Another benefit of anecdote is that it also involves your reader and helps him/her create the scenario in their mind.
Thanks to the internet we have an easy access to quotes from writers, scientists, historical figures, you name it. Starting an essay with a quote gets readers thinking and involved in your paper. You have their attention immediately, but make sure you quote someone with credibility. Quoting Albert Einstein at the beginning (or other parts) of an essay has a better impact than quoting Kim Kardashian or Kylie Jenner. Also, make sure the quote is associated with your topic.
Things to consider
- Essay introduction shouldn’t be too long – up to 6 sentences
- While it’s okay to use “I will demonstrate/prove/discuss” in articles and some other papers, in essays you have to be more political and let your thesis do the talking
- Don’t start with a dictionary definition
- Always make sure you start your essay with something specific, otherwise, you’d stray away from the subject
- Create the first draft, include your argument, evidence, and so on, then think about how would you sum up everything and introduce it? Got a few ideas? Well, use them for the introductory paragraph
Starting an essay isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it isn’t overly complicated either. You can start your essay in different ways such as statistics, fun facts, anecdotes, questions, quotes, you name it. Start the first draft without thinking too much, just write down everything you planned to use in your essay and then reread, add more info, remove things that don’t contribute to the essay, and create a powerful introduction. Some people find it easier to write the introduction last, by that time they already know what to say. Never hurry when writing an essay and always make sure you reread everything. Each time you do that you add a little piece to a big puzzle and your essay will get a good grade.