Creating an Essay Introduction that Captures the Reader’s Attention

You can write the best thought-out, carefully researched and argumentative essay in history, but if you fail to catch your reader’s attention within the first few sentences, it’s likely your reader will not only be able to sustain little interest in what you have to say, but not understand where your argument is coming from either.

Think of it this way: when we sit down to watch movies, if we aren’t engaged within the first ten minutes of the movie, we’ll likely be bored for the next two hours eating stale popcorn. If we aren’t engaged within the first twenty pages of a novel, we’ll likely be skimming through the next four hundred. The same rule applies to your essay, and it cannot be enunciated enough: if your reader is not engaged in your essay within the first paragraph, a significant part of their attention will be diverted elsewhere. But thankfully for you, there are some simple idea you can utilize:

  • Keep it Short and to the Point
  • Opening with a long and drawn out introductory paragraph is the exact opposite of what you need to do. Keep your intro short and to the point. If you don’t, you’re reader’s mind will slowly slip elsewhere as he or she reads the long sentences you’ve carefully planned out. Keeping it short and to the point doesn’t mean to write abrupt sentences with as few words as possible, it means to stay on track and make sure everything is relevant to the topic and to your thesis.

  • Open with a Question
  • One tactic is to open with a question to grab the reader’s attention. For example, “could you imagine a world where…?” or “Have you ever thought about…?” or along those lines. If you open your introduction with a thought-provoking question that your reader will be unable to answer immediately, it will encourage them to keep reading to learn what you have to say as an answer (which your thesis should accomplish).

  • Quote
  • Opening with a stimulating quote from a famous person, living or dead, is another way to grab the reader’s attention, largely the same way as opening with a question would. One thing you could do is open with a quote, and then write a question that relates to the quote. Just make sure that everything is on topic, and that you have a verified source for the quote.

  • Thesis
  • Of course, no introductory paragraph is complete without your thesis statement, and an intro without a thesis is unlikely to sustain reader’s interest either. The thesis is simply a declaration of what you intend to prove, and if your thesis is stated clearly and specifically, your reader will continue reading wanting to learn more.

Published on  June 8th, 2016


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