Writing Engaging Introductions

Contributor: Emily Love. Lesson ID: 10836

First impressions develop when meeting people. In writing, first impressions guide whether a reader continues reading. Learn the steps for a catchy introduction to your essay from Harrison Bergeron!



English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Watch this video clip from PIXAR's WALL-E.
WALL-E Intro:


After watching the scene, answer these two questions:

  1. Based solely on this scene, what do you think will happen in the movie?
  2. What techniques did the filmmakers use to capture your attention and make you want to continue watching the movie?

The film's opening orients the viewers to the setting, notably the absence of human and animal life.

By opening the movie with an upbeat song in the midst of a desolate, dirty place, the filmmakers create a sense of disunity that makes the viewer want to figure out what happened to Earth. Furthermore, the viewers want to understand more about this lone robot.

Just as movie makers want to hook their viewers in the opening scenes of their films, writers need to hook their readers with their introductions.

When you are creating your introduction, you should have three goals for the paragraph:

  • Hook your readers to make them want to continue reading.
  • Establish your topic, direction, and voice.
  • Include a strong thesis statement.

This lesson will focus on writing an essay analyzing a particular feature of a work of literature; however, you can apply these tips to almost any essay you write, from a personal narrative to a science research paper.

You can hook your reader in many different ways:

  • You can start with a statistic or fact that might surprise or intrigue your reader.
  • You could also start with something broad and general and then use the rest of your introduction to explain how your specific topic connects to it.

1) When creating your hook, feel free to be creative while remaining focused on your essay topic. Consider these two examples of hooks from student papers:

  • "Agnes de Mille, who was the choreographer for the classic Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), said that, ‘To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.' "
    Beginning your essay with a quotation can grab your reader's attention while also introducing your topic.
  • "In today's society, the desire to belong is a driving force that can determine a person's behavior. It can be a psychological motivation in decision making because everyone wants to belong, or fit-in."
    This example of a broad opening could be appropriate for a number of essays. It successfully introduces the topic and connects the reader to a shared human experience.

2) Next, you need to clearly introduce your topic; in this case, which author's work you will be analyzing. You will also establish your voice. In writing, voice means incorporating your personal style and point of view into your writing. Just as you have a distinct speaking voice, you want to establish a unique and personal writing voice. You will do this through your word choice, sentence structure, evidence selection, and analysis.

3) Finally, you include your thesis statement. This is where you clearly present your position on your topic — what you intend to prove to your reader. For more specific work on writing a strong thesis statement, check out the Elephango lesson found under Additional Resources in the right-hand sidebar.

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