When beginning a new essay, it’s easy to become flustered and rushed. As an English teacher, I’m well aware that students have anxieties about writing and starting a paper. There are a few strategies that I have found are especially good when starting to write a paper to draw an audience in. Also, I have found that these strategies also help students begin papers because they become more excited about what they’re writing.
- Paint a picture. Immerse the reader into the world you’re presenting. Get the reader interested in what you’re talking about. Make the reader actually see and feel the things that you want to express in your essay. This is a good strategy, especially with narrative essays.
- Wow! them. Starting an essay off with an exciting or shocking sentence can draw an audience in and prepare them for what you’re about to explain/write.
- Resonating Quote. Start your essay off with something from a text that really resonated with you. A lot of times quotes will set the tone and mood for the paper and allows you to get the reader to think deeply about what you’re about to tell them. This also prepares them for the subject-matter that will follow.
- Begin with a question. This can entice the reader to start thinking about what you’re about to write in a non-threatening way. A question can also get the reader to start to answer those questions you’ve presented.
- Shocking style. Perhaps you want to start your essay something like this: Love. Truth. Oceanic scenes. Death. Destruction. What do all of these things have in common? Moby Dick is an enticing and daring portrayal of life at sea and the epic tale of one man, a crew, and a ship. This type of sentence style gets the reader to think about all of the different things they associate with those certain words and how they associate them with the actual story.
While there are other ways to start off essays, these are some of the ways that I have found effective in not only my students’ writing, but my writing as well. Strategies like using “hooks” can help you get your essay started in a non-threatening way. I have also found that starting my essays off using some of these strategies has helped spur my imagination and helped me begin my thought process, better. Another way to help you get started is to simply start with a thesis-like sentence to help you begin organizing your thoughts. Writer’s block can be difficult to overcome, but with some of these strategies, perhaps it will help you begin your essay-writing-journey!