Catching the Reader’s Attention
A good essay begins with an invitation into a rich discussion. The writing is crafted in such a way that it sparks anticipation and excitement in the heart and mind of the reader. Simply stating your opinion or the topic of the essay will never accomplish this. Engaging writing requires thoughtful attention to creating a hook for the reader.
Hooks can be created in an infinite number of ways, but here is a list of approaches that often prove valuable. Note that this is a list that you have likely seen before (most schools provide such a list), but be sure to read on as it is in the implementation of these ideas that they either succeed or fail:
- Start with a thought-provoking quotation.
- Start with a thought-provoking question.
- Tell a thought-provoking story.
- Make a surprising statement.
- Present a simile or a metaphor to introduce your essay topic.
Each of these options presents an approach to opening an essay that can work if it is implemented effectively. Of course, implementing them effectively is where things get tricky.
A Thought-Provoking Quotation:
Depending on the topic of your essay and the resources you have available, it can be very effective to begin with a direct quotation from a relevant source on your topic that brings up key ideas or presents controversial opinions. You, as the author, can then respond to them and establish your position in relation to this statement. Be certain the quotation you choose directly relates to your chosen topic.
A Thought Provoking Question
Opening essays with questions is dangerous because they only work if the question causes your reader to genuinely wonder about something. Simplistic or obvious questions turn your reader off, so try another approach unless you are sure you have a question that really ties your essay topic to something personal for the reader or to some intriguing idea in the world.
A Thought-Provoking Story
As a fiction writer, this is my personal favorite. There are two options available here. One approach is to tell a true story in close-up intimate detail that directly relates to your topic. The other option is to craft a story around the factual details of your topic and helps to humanize it—taking your reader into the personal human experience of someone in a given situation related to your subject. Simply be sure to tell the story well and don’t forget to craft the story in such a way that it leads directly to the central point of your essay.
Make a Surprising Statement
This one is also a tricky way to go unless you have come across a very striking fact or are dealing with a controversial subject. In order for this approach to work, the statement must include something that will genuinely surprise the reader, which is difficult to do. In addition to shock value, the statement must also have direct relevance to your topic so that a strong transition can still be made into your central argument.
Present a Simile or Metaphor
Similes and metaphors are among the most powerful linguistic devices available. When used well, they can bring profound interest and insight to a given topic. Using them well is, of course, the hard part. The trick to using them well is be sure that the nature of the symbol you use shares a great deal in common with the subtleties of the topic you are discussing. The broader and more specific those connections are, the stronger its linguistic power.
The very best way to use a simile or metaphor in an essay is to introduce it with the opening paragraph and then continue to weave the connections between the symbol and the subject throughout the entire essay, eventually bringing the idea back together in the conclusion to create a circular structure to the writing. This requires insightful thinking and hard writing work, but makes for an exceptional essay.
Clearly Establishing Your Purpose
With your reader’s attention now in place, you must be certain that you also directly address the question or prompt to which you have been asked to respond. A colorful and engaging opening story is all well and good, but it is worthless if it does not lead into a straight and clear statement of your thesis (also known as “topic sentence” or “position statement”).
Keep in mind that, contrary to what is often taught in elementary school, the opening paragraph does not necessarily require a complete listing of the main points of your essay, though that can be helpful at times. The only non-negotiable requirement for an introduction is a direct and clear statement of purpose somewhere within that first paragraph. With more creative openings, it generally occurs near the close of the first paragraph, anticipating the deeper explanations that take place in the body paragraphs of the essay. Feel free to be creative, but do not forget to directly address the question you have been asked!
It’s My Life
My name is Ann Smith. I am a senior in high school. Everyone can agree that I am a good student and that I like to study. My favorite subjects are chemistry and biology. I am going to enter the university because my goal is to study these subjects in future and to become a respected professional in one of the fields.
I can say that I am a responsible and a hard-working student. Moreover, being a sociable person, I have many friends since I like to communicate with people and get to know new interesting individuals. I enjoy my time at school: it is really nice to study and the students are very friendly and ready to help. The atmosphere cannot but make me want to go there every time. I like to receive and deal with challenging tasks. I am a very enthusiastic student and I think this is a strong point of mine.
My friends say that I am a very funny and an interesting girl with a good sense of humor. As soon as I meet new people who are happy to meet me, I feel extremely comfortable with them. I believe that friendship is one of the most important values in human life. We exchange new ideas, find many interesting things about each other and experience new things. I appreciate friendship and people who surround me.
Every time I do my best to be a…
Some Essential Tips On How To Write An Essay About Yourself
No matter what’s the purpose of your essay, there is a preset number of points that you will be expected to address.
The main line should be that you are not a robot, and that it is your feelings and emotions that define you as a personality. Do not get stuck with material possessions and what you have achieved in life. That has to do only with a small portion of who you are.
- Avoid overly simplified ideas. You are a human being after all, and your life is not as simple as it may seem after years of school. You wouldn’t want to seem or sound too simple. The more substance you create out of your daily activities, the better. Longer sentences will be good.
- Include a few dream-like paragraphs to stress the point that you are not a robot. Sometimes it can get hard explaining your feelings and emotions, you may say.
- The best way to get to know people is to see how they react to stimuli. Use your essay to pick a few incidents or just more or less regular events to attempt and define what your character is at its core.
- Find amusing in ordinary and showcase that. Your job is to present the ordinary stuff that happens to you in a way that will make the reader want to know you better. It’s all a matter of the right perspective. You have to take multiple stands on what you are as a person, and include that all in an ordered form.
- How do you fit with your friends, family and just immediate surrounding? Where is your place in the world?
- What the purpose of your life? If a question like that is too global for your work, you can just include the things that you enjoy. Don’t forget to say why or explain any symbolism connected with the things you love.
Avoid Unclear Definitions
It is really easy to get lost when you are writing something as vague and as perspective-oriented as an essay about yourself. People tend to choose a number of themes of who they are and try to describe them all.
That would be very confusing for the reader. Not to mention that it would be hard to write and navigate in between those themes. After all, very few people know you well enough, and it is almost certain that your essay is going to be read mostly by strangers or just people who know you marginally.
What you do instead is pick one theme: which light do you want to be seen in? Once you have answered that question, you are ready to go. Stay true to the theme, and you will get a coherent piece that will get you a good grade.
If you are going to write your own essay from the scratch, our manual on «How to write an essay» will be useful for you.