Now that you’ve finished drafting the body paragraphs of your essay after brainstorming the ideas in them, you are ready to write the introduction paragraph.

The introduction paragraph is an upside down triangle, meaning that it begins with a broad, general idea and ends with a very specific idea.

The purpose of the introduction’s opening sentences is to capture the reader’s attention right away. There are several ways you can open or start your introduction. Here are some common ways:

1. Ask a question

Opening your essay with a question is called a “rhetorical device” and the question is called a “rhetorical question.” The rhetorical question is a question you ask that you do not expect the reader to answer right away. You will later answer it in your essay.

2. Share an anecdote

Anecdotes are quick stories that can make people laugh or immediately establish the main idea of your essay. Anecdotes are very short, usually a few sentences long. If you pick this as the opener of your introduction, make sure the anecdote is related to your topic!

3. Share a quote

A nice quote from someone who is a recognizable authority or famous person can also work to open your introduction. The quote should be related to your main idea of the essay. You can get thousands of quotes from this source.

4. Set the scene

Setting the scene produces an image in the reader’s mind. This is one of the most powerful things you can do as a writer because it engages the reader’s imagination. When the reader starts imagining what you wrote, you have captured the reader with your writing! Start with the words “Imagine…” or “Picture yourself…” and set the scene for the reader.

5. Use a metaphor or simile

Metaphors or similes are some of the most powerful devices available when it comes to telling a story in a single sentence. This is a great way to capture the reader’s attention.

6. Cite a shocking fact or statistic

If you can look up facts or statistics that move the reader’s imagination, this is also a good way to begin your introduction. You can search for facts and statistics using news reports. You can quote the report, and make sure you provide the source in MLA format (parenthesis after the citation).

When you are writing the introduction, use ONE of these ways.

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About alavina

Educator and professional development leader at large. Blogger at


Writing tips