“The introduction is the first and best chance to win the attention of people who otherwise would not care. The first thing you have to do is make people believe that what you have to say is relevant and important.”
Introductions help form initial impressions and pique interest, transforming random browsers into readers. There are a plethora of resources vying for the attention of the reader. Today’s readers have low attention spans; the decision to read an article in its entirety depends on the opening lines. This implies that any piece of content needs to have a lucid and gripping introduction.
In this article, we will be sharing tips and techniques on how to make introductions count.
- Keep your first sentence short/startling to capture attention:
A good introduction tells the reader in one sentence what you are going to talk about. This could be about a central character, issue, or plotline. Later on, expand it and provide context for what you are discussing.
Ove is fifty-nine. He drives a Saab. He’s the kind of man who points at people he doesn’t like the look of, as if they were burglars and his forefinger a policeman’s flashlight.
-A Man called Ove, Fredrik Backman
- Incorporate quotes or rhetorical questions in your introduction:
A quote or a rhetorical question makes the writing memorable and has the reader craving for more. Make sure the quote is properly attributed.
Unless the lions have their historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
This quote sets the tone for a story of an unsung or maligned character and gives the writer a chance to rewrite history.
- Grab the reader’s attention with a question or a startling statistic:
Start with a surprising question that the reader can relate to. By asking this question, you encourage the reader to be involved in the scenario on hand and encourage them to give their opinion, making it a participative exercise.
What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died?
That she was beautiful. And brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me.
– Love Story, Eric Sehgal
- Highlight to the reader how they will benefit:
Focus on how your readers will benefit from reading further and provide a reason for them to read. For example, in the case of a self-help book, state why this will be useful to the reader; you are offering a solution to a problem.
Enlightenment-what is that?
I am that stranger that has nothing to give you and who is telling you to look inside. Not inside any box, but somewhere even closer, inside yourself.
– The power of NOW, Eckhart Tolle
- Keep the overall introduction short and succinct:
Keep it short so that readers are motivated to continue reading without feeling bored or overwhelmed. You may want to share every bit of information but avoid cramming too much into a single introduction, allowing the suspense to build up slowly, especially when you are writing a thriller.
My husband doesn’t recognize my face. I feel him staring at me as I drive. It is strange to think that the man I married wouldn’t be able to pick me out in a police line.
-Rock Paper Scissors, Alice Feeney.
- Start with a misconception or a common problem to inculcate interest
Start with a common problem that people face or introduce the readers to an opposing argument that they may not be aware of, and then provide insights into why this argument may or may not work. This will help you engage your audience right away.
“You never say yes to anything.”
Six startling words. That’s the beginning. That’s the origin of it all.
-Year Of Yes, Shonda Rhimes
- Give the readers a preview of the kind of detail they can expect to find later
Include a preview in your introduction piece. One example of this could be anecdotes based on the genre of your writing. Giving the readers a preview of what to expect will attract more people to read further.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us..
A Tale of two cities, Charles Dickens
The words of the author bring to life the stark and grim conditions in France during the revolution.
We hope these examples help clarify what a lucid introduction looks like. The choice of technique to be applied depends on the genre and the target audience.
Always remember that your introduction must be irresistible! A hooked reader stays till the very end, and what more do we as writers want?
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