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How to Begin an Engaging Essay

Top 8 effective tips and tricks for writing an interesting and motivating introduction for a student essay. Learn how to write engaging high school and college essays like a pro.

How to Start an Engaging Essay

A good opening paragraph is both informative and engaging for the reader. It informs readers about the topic of your essay and motivates them to continue reading. There are numerous approaches to effectively beginning an essay. Here are 8 introduction ideas with examples from a variety of expert authors to get you started.

Clearly state your topic

An essay is a piece of writing that persuades the reader of a particular opinion or topic. The way you start your essay will set the tone for the remainder of it, influencing whether or not the reader is engaged in learning and wants to keep reading. The beginning of an essay also tells readers about the overall work’s subject, assisting them in preparing for what they will be learning as they progress through the essay. Your introduction must be entertaining, informative, and intriguing for the reader to continue reading.

However, avoid making a broad statement like “This essay is about…” in your thesis. A thesis is the culmination of a long process of thought. After reading an essay question, you shouldn`t formulate a thesis straight away. Writers employ a variety of methods to activate their thinking in the comprehension of a topic’s greater relevance and the formulation of a thesis statement.

Ask a question about your topic

Within the greater realm of the topic you’ve been researching, the issue you pick will usually represent something that fascinates, confuses, or excites you. Now you must ask a question that will assist you in comprehending that intriguing, perplexing, or unusual phenomenon. At this point, you may truly allow your imagination and creativity to run wild. Remember that the more complicated your question is, the more you’ll learn while attempting to answer it. Follow up with an answer or an opportunity for your readers to respond to the question.

“WHAT ARE WE TO DO about the clichéd beauty of an ostentatious sunset? Should we cut it with menace, as Roberto Bolaño did so brilliantly, writing, “The sky at sunset looked like a carnivorous flower”? Should we lean into the inherent sentimentality, as Kerouac does in On the Road when he writes…” (John Green, “Sunsets.” The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet. Dutton Penguin, 2021)

Give an intriguing fact about your topic

To get your essay off to a strong start, you should attempt to have an engaging first sentence. One of the most significant components of opening your essay is engaging your readers. You must write an introduction that appeals to readers and encourages them to read more about your subject.  In your introduction, share a surprising fact or mention something that only few people know.

Consider your opening line as a hook to encourage your reader to continue reading. You’ve certainly come across numerous hilarious jokes, quotes, or obscure facts while researching your topic; these make excellent hooks for a captivating beginning.

Present your thesis as a breakthrough

Try to be attentive and specific about what you’ve discovered throughout your essay writing process. Starting with something straightforward, short, and snappy that will pique your reader’s interest is preferable to long, complex sentences.

The hook should draw the reader into your essay by conveying a sense of the issue you’re writing about and why it’s fascinating. Avoid making broad claims or making straightforward declarations of fact. A solid thesis is more than a factual statement; it’s a claim that requires proof and explanation.

Summarize your essay’s main topic

Consider an essay’s beginning paragraph to be an upside-down pyramid with the largest proportion on top and the narrowest argument at the bottom. It should start by giving your reader a broad overview of the topic. The topic should be narrowed down in the middle of the introductory paragraph so that your reader understands its importance and what you want to achieve in your essay. Finally, state your argument clearly to bring your reader to your central issue.

Use the narrative introduction strategy

You can use the storytelling strategy of delay to hold off on defining your topic just long enough to stimulate your readers’ attention without annoying them. This works best when you need to entice or encourage your readers to become interested in your subject.

Remember that the narrative introduction comes after your thesis or statement of your argument, so pick a story that can be told in a single paragraph. You should also pick one that is easily connected to your subject. Make the story as realistic as possible. It should be directly related to your topic.

Use the present tense in historical contexts

Using the historical present tense to narrate an episode from the past as if it were unfolding now is an excellent way to start an essay. Consider the following passage from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”: “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

Even when quoting, keep in mind that the APA format does not employ the “historical present,” but rather the past or present-past tense to explain an author’s words or introduce a quote. Before writing an essay, check with your professor to verify what tense you can use when quoting a source, especially if you’re in a science subject.

Start with a riddle, a joke, or a funny quote

Something unusual, hilarious, shocking, or intriguing should be included. Good essay hooks allow you to establish an emotional connection right away. Begin with a clever joke or a riddle with a surprising answer for your readers. It isn’t the most straightforward method to begin an essay, but if done effectively, it can have a significant impact. When creating less formal forms of essays, it’s best to practice with this one.

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