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Write the Introduction and Conclusion

Basic Strategies on How to Start an Essay

❶While your essay may be interesting to you, it's not necessarily interesting to the reader.

Good Ways to Start an Essay

Purpose of an Essay
How to Start Your Essay

Don't stress if you don't have a good hook when you first sit down to write! Many writers save the opening line for last, as it's easier to craft a good opening line after you've written the rest of your essay.

Great hooks might include a fascinating little-known fact about your topic, a startling statistic, a quote, a rhetorical question, or an insightful personal question. However, don't quote the dictionary. For instance, if you're writing an essay on the growing danger of childhood obesity worldwide, you might start with this: For an essay on your summer vacation, you might start with this: Draw your reader into the "meat" of your essay. A great first sentence can get the reader's attention, but if you don't keep pulling the reader into your essay, she or he can still easily lose interest.

Follow your very first sentence with a sentence or two that logically link the attention-grabbing "hook" in the first sentence to the rest of the essay as a whole. Often, these sentences will expand on the narrow scope of the first sentence, placing the specific snapshot you present initially in some sort of larger context.

For example, in your obesity essay, you might follow your first sentence as follows: For your vacation essay, you might follow your first sentence with something like this: Tell the reader what your essay is about. After reading your introduction, your reader needs to know the topic of your essay, as well as your purpose for writing it. You might be writing to inform, persuade, or entertain, and this should be apparent in your introduction. Additionally, you should tell your reader why your topic is important, as well as what they'll get from your essay.

There is no confusion here. For your vacation essay, you might try something like this: Outline the structure of your essay. Let the reader know how you will present your argument or perspective, providing the basic structure of your essay. You'll likely provide this information in your thesis statement. Provide your stance, as well as a brief outline of the support for your stance. For your obesity essay, you might continue like this: On the other hand, for your vacation essay, you might keep your tone lighthearted and playful.

Although it's perfectly fine to write, "By experiencing both city life in the capital of San Jose and rural life in the jungles of Tortuguero, I changed as a person during my trip," you might want to revise the sentence to make it flow with the previous statements. Include a thesis statement or controlling idea. In essay-writing, a thesis statement is a single sentence that describes the "point" of the essay as clearly and concisely as possible.

Some essays, especially five-paragraph essays written for academic assignments or as part of a standardized test, more or less require you to include a thesis statement as part of the opening paragraph. Even essays that don't require this can benefit from the concise purpose-defining power of a bold thesis statement or controlling idea.

Generally, thesis statements are included at or near the end of the first paragraph, but the position can vary in some circumstances.

For your obesity essay, since you're dealing with a serious topic and writing about it in a clinical, straightforward way, you might be fairly direct with your thesis statement: You probably wouldn't include a single thesis statement for your vacation essay. Since you're more interested in setting a mood, telling a story, and illustrating personal themes, a direct, clinical statement like "This essay will describe my summer vacation to Costa Rica in great detail" would sound oddly forced and unnecessary.

Set an appropriate tone for your essay. In addition to being your space to discuss what you're going to talk about, your first paragraph or so is also a space to establish how you're going to talk about it. The way you write — your writing voice — is part of what encourages or discourages your readers from reading your article. If the tone in the beginning of your essay is clear, pleasing, and appropriate for the subject matter, your readers will be more likely to read than if it's muddled, varies greatly from sentence to sentence, or is mismatched to the topic at hand.

Take a look at the sentences for the example essays above. Notice that, while the obesity essay and the vacation essay have very distinct voices, both are clearly written and are appropriate for the subject matter.

The obesity essay is a serious, analytical piece of writing dealing with a public health problem, so it's reasonable for the sentences to be somewhat clinical and to-the-point. On the other hand, the vacation essay is about a fun, exciting experience that had a major effect on the writer, so it's reasonable that the sentences are a little more playful, containing exciting details and conveying the writer's sense of wonder.

Cut to the chase! One of the most important rules when it comes to introductions is that shorter is almost always better. If you can convey all the information that you need to convey in five sentences rather than six, do it. If you can use a simple, everyday word in place of a more obscure word e. If you can get your message across in ten words rather than twelve, do it. Wherever you can make your introductory passages shorter without sacrificing quality or clarity, do so. Remember, the beginning of your essay serves to get your reader into the meat of the essay, but it's the sizzle and not the meat of the essay itself, so keep it short.

As noted above, while you should strive for brevity, you shouldn't shorten your introduction so much that it becomes unclear or illogical. For instance, in your obesity essay, you shouldn't shorten this sentence: Sum up your argument in a persuasive essay. Though all essays are unique besides plagiarized ones , certain strategies can help you make the most of your essay based on the specific type of writing you're doing.

For instance, if you're writing an argumentative essay — that is, one that argues a specific point with the hope of persuading the reader into agreement — it can be helpful to focus on summarizing your argument in the introductory paragraph or paragraphs of the essay.

Doing this gives the reader a quick rundown of the logic you're going to use to support your argument. For instance, if you're arguing against a proposed local sales tax, you might include something like the following in your first paragraph: By proving that the sales tax puts a disproportionate tax burden on the poor and that it has a net negative effect on the local economy, this essay intends to prove these points beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Be attention-grabbing in creative writing. Creative writing and fiction can be more emotionally charged than other pieces of writing. For these types of essays, you can usually get away with beginning your essay with a metaphorical bang. Making an effort to be exciting or memorable in your first few sentences is a great way to draw readers into your work.

Although you can play around more with creative writing, you should still lay out your structure, purpose, and controlling ideas in the beginning. Otherwise, your reader will struggle to follow your writing.

For example, if you're writing a thrilling short story about a girl on the run from the law, we might start with some exciting imagery: Red and blue flashed like paparazzi's cameras on the shower curtain. Sweat mingled with rusty water on the barrel of her gun. It's also worth noting that your first few sentences can be compelling without being action-packed.

Consider the first few lines of J. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: What is a hobbit? Why does it live in a hole?

The reader has to keep reading to find out! Tie specific details to your overall theme for arts and entertainment. Writing in the arena of arts and entertainment like movie reviews, book reports, etc. In these cases, while you can get away with a little playfulness in the beginning of your essay, you'll usually need to take care to ensure that you describe your the overall theme or focus even as you pinpoint small, specific details. For example, if you're writing a review and analysis of P.

Anderson's film The Master, you might start like this: Speaking to his teenage paramour for the very last time, Joaquin Phoenix's naval washout suddenly tears through the window screen that's separating them and embraces the girl in a passionate kiss.

It's at once beautiful and perverse, and perfectly emblematic of the twisted depiction of love the film presents. Stay clinical in technical or scientific essays. Of course, not all writing can be wild and exciting. Wit and whimsy have no place in the world of serious analytical, technical, and scientific writing. These types of writing exist for practical purposes — to inform relevant individuals about serious, specific topics.

Since the purpose of essays written in these topics is to be purely informative and occasionally persuasive , you should not include jokes, colorful imagery, or anything else that's not directly related to the task at hand.

For instance, if you're writing an analytical essay on the strengths and weaknesses of different methods of protecting metal from corrosion, you might begin like this: Since this poses a serious problem to the structural integrity of metal objects and structures, various means of protecting against corrosion have been developed.

No time is wasted on style or flash. Note that essays written in this style often contain abstracts or summaries before the essay itself which succinctly tell the reader what the essay is about in broad strokes.

See How to Write an Abstract for more information. For example, if your goal is to persuade people, you'll have to develop a logical argument with compelling main points that convince your readers to see your point of view. If your goal is to compare and contrast, then you'll have to be knowledgeable about the differences and similarities of two topics. If your purpose is to inform, then you'll have to thoroughly study a topic and help your readers understand it better.

Tone is another important aspect of writing a successful college essay. For most essays, your tone should be professional, detached, and informative. If you use too much biased language to try to convince your research, then you won't sound authoritative. If you use slang or write in the first person, then you won't sound professional.

But if you're writing a personal essay for a course on writing a memoir, for example , then you'll get to use more comfortable, informal language. Your tone is your attitude toward the subject you're presenting. Is your tone detached, amused, slightly cynical, suspicious, or more passionate? Whatever the tone is, it has to be appropriate to the subject matter.

If you're writing an essay about stem-cell research, for example, your tone should be objective and detached; if you were writing an essay about online dating, you could take a more amused or playful tone. Though it may be fun to jump right into an essay without knowing exactly what you're talking about, the best thing you can do is to do your research first so you build a solid foundation for your thinking.

Get the texts you need, take notes, and read them until you feel that you've mastered the topic and have enough information to write an essay or formulate an argument. Make sure that the materials you use are credible and come from established professionals. Don't do your research on Wikipedia. Take enough notes to be comfortable with the subject.

Know what makes an appropriate thesis statement. Once you've done your research, you'll need to write a thesis statement, which will be the central argument or point that you'll be making throughout the paper. Though you can outline some basic ideas first or find several main ideas that stand out to you, you should not begin writing the essay without a clear idea of what your thesis statement should be.

One example of a thesis statement is the following: Write a thesis statement. Write a thesis statement that makes an argument clearly and precisely and which can be argued. You can't write a thesis about how unicorns exist because you can't prove that, and you can't write a thesis about how smoking is bad for your health because that can't really be argued.

Instead, pick an interesting, relevant argument to your subject matter and pick at least two or three specific details to help you argue your point. Here are some examples of different thesis statements: Once you have a thesis statement, you should create an outline that will serve as the roadmap to the rest of your paper, which will help you know exactly what to put in each paragraph.

This will make your thoughts logical and organized and will keep you from getting overwhelmed or changing your mind halfway through the paper. The outline should include the introductory paragraph, the body paragraphs, and the concluding paragraphs, citing as much specific evidence as possible. Here's an example of an outline of an essay with the following thesis statement: The introduction is comprised of three parts: The first part, the hook, should be a way to draw your readers in and to have them read the rest of your essay.

The hook should relate to your main point and should get your readers engaged so that they want to keep reading. Here are some examples of hooks: Asking a question that helps draw the readers into the central debate you're discussing can help get their attention. For example, an essay that supports gay marriage can start with the question, "Shouldn't any person be able to marry the person he loves?

Starting with a shocking statement or statistic relevant to your topic can help get the reader's attention. Starting with a short anecdote relevant to your thesis can help draw your readers in.

For example, if you were writing an essay about the difficulty of being a single mother, you could start by saying, "Jane was struggling to make ends meet while trying to take care of her son, Randy.

State your main points. Once you've hooked your readers with a strong statement, it's time to spend at least one sentence or two describing each main point, so that your readers know what to expect.

For example, if you're writing an essay with the following thesis statement: Once you've hooked your readers and stated your main points, all you have to do is state your thesis. It tends to work best as the last sentence in the introductory paragraph, though sometimes the essay can be successful if you place the thesis earlier in the introduction.

The introductory paragraph and the thesis should work like a road map to the rest of the essay, so that the reader knows what to expect in the rest of the paper. To recap, a successful start to a college essay, or an introductory paragraph, should include the following: A "hook" to get the reader's attention A brief discussion of the main points that will be covered in the body of the essay The thesis statement.

Write body paragraphs. Once you've found your thesis statement and have written that introductory paragraph, much of the hard work of the essay is over. Now, you'll have to jump into the body paragraphs that will develop the main points you've made in your thesis statement, and which will help inform or persuade your readers. You should have body paragraphs or more, depending on the length of the essay. Each body paragraph should include the following: Supporting details, evidence, facts, or statistics that develop the main point.

A concluding sentence that wraps up the ideas in the paragraph and transitions to the next body paragraph. Once you have your introduction and your three body paragraphs, you should write a conclusion that wraps up the ideas you've introduced and explained in your essay.

The conclusion should do several things: Remember to stick to the third person. Writing in the third person unless you're told not to do so is a very important aspect of writing a successful college essay. You should never say "I think Instead of saying, "I think abortion should remain legal in the United States," you can say, "Abortion should remain legal in the United States," to make your argument sound more forceful.


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There are countless ways to begin an essay effectively. As a start, here are 13 introductory strategies accompanied by examples from a wide range of professional writers. 13 Introductory Strategies. State your thesis briefly and directly (but avoid making a bald announcement, such as "This essay is .

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The writer of the academic essay aims to persuade readers of an idea based on evidence. The beginning of the essay is a crucial first step in this process. In order to engage readers and establish your authority, the beginning of your essay has to accomplish certain business. Your beginning should introduce the essay, focus it, and orient readers.

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In order to write a good essay paper, students should follow these guidelines when starting their essay 1. An interesting inquiry – when starting an essay ask a question that you will give an answer in the body of your paper, or ask a question that will get readers considering your theme. You can also start with an idiom. This approach is said to be effective in terms of drawing the reader's attention right at the start of the essay. It immediately raises the reader's expectations. Be careful, however. Sustaining the reader's interest throughout the essay is another matter altogether.

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How to start a conclusion in an essay. Just because the conclusion, or closing statement, is made at the end of an essay that doesn’t mean that it should be viewed as ‘the end’. The thing about essay writing is that we know what we want to write about but we don’t know where or how to start it. Some people choose to ask questions, others like to tell interesting stories. How ever you wish to begin your essay, it’s important to never lose track of its relevance to the given topic.