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Start an Essay: Explore, Define, and Choose the Strategies

December 26, 2019

Each time you get another essay assignment, you know that you will need to do researches to explore the topic and expound the results. And there is one more thing that gets many students crazy – writing the introduction to begin an essay. The beginning of a job is the most common cause of writer’s block.

There are many online resources with hints and guides on how to write such papers, full of advice, and examples. But they mostly tell about the importance of the Introduction part for getting the reader’s attention and stress that it must be energetic and catchy. There are more practical tips on this particular task as well, though.

We present this article to shed some light on the most efficient modern strategies. They help the students to write the opening line of an essay and avoid pitfalls waiting in that way. 

The Purpose of the Introduction Part

The Essay Introduction is after several goals:

  • To explain the essay topic to the audience. It is not enough to only name the title. Any argumentative essay or any other essay is a form of a research paper, and it mustn’t be useless. The topic you select should have its meaning and connect to other scientific and social issues and trends. In other words, there is a bigger context, and your topic chosen represents your particular point of view.
  • To describe the theme of an essay. It is not the same as a topic, it is a thesis statement where you define the problems you research, the ideas you want to prove, and explain which aspects you will explore and how. One of the popular methods of essay beginning is asking the question and answering once. Then the author can argue that answer or support the point of view with new evidence.
  • To give the audience the necessary information to apprehend the essay. If you choose the aspect that requires specific knowledge, you may lose your readers or listeners if they don’t possess that knowledge. They will not understand the theme and won’t follow your arguments. You must give them some basics right in the first couple of paragraphs.

Start with a Hook: but What is It?

The essay hook in this context means a short and expressive piece of information that you use to start an essay introduction. It is the attention grabber. You can use lots of options for hooks in different types of essays:

  1. Quotes from the books or articles or citations of famous people. Choose the catchy fragment or idea and interpret it in context to start the piece with a quote. 
  2. Anecdotes – a piece of humor is often useful due to the positive emotions it provokes. 
  3. Some impressive statistics example – great for persuasive essay. 
  4. An interesting fact is related to the topic. 
  5. A rhetorical question. 
  6. A story from your personal experience – this is good for getting the audience involved, as many of them might share similar emotions. 
  7. Debunking some popular stereotypes.

However, there are two rules that you need to keep in mind when you choose a hook:

  1. It must be related to your essay! Even the best and brightest hook that picks the interest of your audience at once will not work is it is parted from the rest of your text. Moreover, it can disappoint your audience if they don’t see the connection between the opening sentence and the pieces that follow it.
  2. Don’t refer to a broad context to narrow it to your target idea. Following the theme to the specific entry is a valid scientific method, but it takes too much time. You may lose the audience before getting to the point. Just be specific and mention the things that refer to your topic directly.

Strategies of an Essay Beginning

There are preliminary questions that you need to answer before you start to write the text – they are the questions of the style and the purpose. Think of the following aspects to cope with:

  1. What type of essay do you write, and which field explore? Each type and area have their distinctions, and you need to consider them.
  2. Which audience do you target? Are students or teachers? Do they possess the knowledge to grasp that topic and your ideas and arguments? 
  3. What tone will suit it best of all? Would you like to be dryer or more casual, or emotional? 
  4. Which impression do you want to make? Do you want your readers or listeners to feel astonished or amused, do you want them to learn the new information only or to call them to action? 
  5. What structure will you need for the text? What will be the order of the essential parts, which arguments will you offer at the beginning, and which cases will support them? 

Answering these questions will help you to define the global vision of an essay. After that, you can see which way you should choose to write an essay.

Practical Strategies for Beginning an Essay

  1. Compose the introduction together with the conclusion for an essay. In many cases, students have a proper vision of the text, but the necessity to write the introduction causes the writer’s block. It is not obligatory to compose the opening at once. Writing it together with the conclusion parts is a more efficient way to connect the beginning with the body. 
  2. Put the most crucial thing in the first place. It is a working practice from journalism, and it applies to any other essay.
  3. Provide the background information that is necessary to explain what you talk about. But don’t include the arguments at once, they should come later in the “body” part.
  4. The tone of your pieces of writing depends on the subject. If your essay concerns the arts and entertainment area, you may use a more creative style. If you write a more technical text in the sciences field, be more specific and informative.
  5. Present your thesis statement. Gather your main arguments and summarize them. This way, you inform your audience what means you are going to use, and this makes it easier to follow your plotline. The audience will get a better understanding of what you want to tell.
  6. The size of the introduction part of an essay depends on the size of the full text. It must be short concerning the body of the theme where you support your thesis by arguments and evidence, but the regular size of the part is different. In general, the beginning of your essay takes about 10% or 15% of the full article. 
  7. Though smaller, the beginning of an essay must obey the logical order. The hook takes the first place. Then you can out the definition of the topic and the explanation of the theme – what you write about and how important it is. The thesis statement is the final element of the introduction and the bridge to the body part. If you present a specific topic in a bigger context, it is not necessary to divide them, and you can let these concepts intertwine. 
  8. Make it clear and brief. Choose the everyday words instead of sophisticated and rare terms, don’t make your sentences too wordy, and alternate longer phrases with short ones. In the introduction, it is crucial to write short, but include as much essence as possible.

Revise, Edit, and Proofread the Introduction to Improve It

No matter if we work on the Introduction part only or the full academic writing text, we must polish it:

  1. Re-read the opening of your essay and consider if it represents the following parts of the book correctly. 
  2. Examine the logical order of the parts and make sure that the reader will not “jump” chaotically between the critical points.
  3. Consider your hook again if it serves to set the tone of your essay. You might need to change it. 
  4. Make sure that the beginning is not too wordy and does not include any extra information. 
  5. Read the text aloud and pay attention to the inner rhythm – he phrases should be smooth, words mustn’t become obstacles for understanding. 
  6. Refer for the “third-party opinion”. You can ask your friend or parents, or another mentor you trust to listen to your essay. It gives n excellent opportunity to test the impression the text makes. Another person can point to the weak places and logical gaps if there are any. And, of course, you can get the first-hand experience of evaluation if the introduction makes it attractive for another person to follow. 
  7. Correct all grammar errors. 
  8. Leave the text for at least a couple of hours and get back to it later with a fresh mind to revise again. Do at least three revisions. 

Just remember that no matter how great your introductory paragraph is, it can’t substitute for the whole essay. It can help you at the beginning, but the results will depend on the “body” of your text. At the same time, the opening part of the essay defines if you get the audience at all. So, be serious about it. It is the first impression you make, and there is no second chance to make a first impression.

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