The opening paragraph of an essay can make or break, often the opening can result in the success or failure of your work. Consider you will be putting in a considerable amount of time and effort into your work, it makes sense to really understand how to start an essay.

Here we give to you our 7 awesome tips for your opening paragraphs, and how to construct them. Take 1, 2 or all of these tips to give you an greatly increased chance of success over your classmates.

Tip #1 – Start from the middle

It is often easier to start your essay by delving in to the meat and potatoes of the topic. To some this may be somewhat alien, as throughout our education we have been told start at the beginning.

Here we are telling you to forget what you have learnt (well not everything!) and just start writing about the core topic. After you have added some content to your essay you will begin to see the wood through the trees, and slowly build out the opening and closing paragraphs directly from what you have already written.

Tip #2 – Quote someone in your field

Our truly favourite way to start an essay is with a quote.

Only use quotes from people relevant to your topic/subject and if you go on to write about this particular person later in the essay, even better.

Don’t just pick the first quote you see and roll with it. Instead take a look at http://www.brainyquote.com. They have a search engine and a huge array of quotes from the most obscure of characters. wikipedia.org can also be a fantastic resource.

We have also found that when using quotes, you can provide your interpretation of said quote just underneath as a little humour or quip that will engage your teacher and may even deliver a smile.

For example

“Water is the driving force of all nature”

Leonardo da Vinci

What I think Mr da Vinci is really saying here is;

“Drinking water, will be the driving force behind a call of nature!”

Quote by me

Tip #3 – Make a bold statement

A great way when looking at how to start an essay would be to make a very bold statement. Such as;

“I believe the theory of relativity is incorrect because….”

Obviously you will have to provide a very good argument to convince someone of this; however your objective here is not to convince the reader but to ENGAGE them. By making a statement as bold as the one above will prepare them for something epic.

Indeed, you may not feel brave enough to tackle such a subject (and quite rightly so), however some of the best essays I have ever written have opened with a bold statement, and finished with my conclusion that my study did indeed prove my thoughts wrong and I was incorrect in my assumptions.

Showing humility through your essay can reap great rewards and this will shine right through no more so than taking this approach. It’s so simple yet so effective;
1) You make a bold statement disagreeing with a quote/study/topic
2) You provide your arguments for your theory
3) You conclude that upon completion of your research, you were in fact incorrect in your assumptions and why. (this also makes for a great closing paragraph/conclusion to an essay).

Tip #4 – Key Term Definitions

If the topic of you essay has some very key terms, it is a good idea to define them in your opening statement. This will prove to the reader that you do indeed know what you are talking about.

Ensure you only do this for the key terms however and try to be as short and concise as possible so you can get on to actually discussing the topic and don’t take up too much of the reader’s time on the definitions.

Short, sharp and to the point is the name of the game here!

Tip #5 – Using a Mind Map

Mind Maps have been around for years. You may have used them for other projects in school or college. Essentially, they gather all of your thoughts and actions at the start of the project which are then linked together by a series of connectors to produce some kind of flow diagram.

Mind Maps are not only good for projects but to also great for understanding how to start an essay. Think about it. You write down what you must cover in your essay based on the instructions given. You then write down what you would like to cover from your own thoughts/opinions and you join them together to form a logical flow of events.

This map can be reverted back to should you hit writers block at any point during your essay. It has helped me numerous times in the pas, and I always start with one when writing a new essay.

Tip #6 – Posing a Question

Rather than making a statement in your essay title, be different. Pose a question to the reader that will both engage them and also set the tone and direction for the remainder of the essay.

This question could be something along the lines of;

Faith: not wanting to know what is true. How do Faith and Religion differ?

The first part of the title comes from Friedrich Nietzsche. The second part is my own spin on creating a question out of an essay title.

Essay titles that pose a question setup the first paragraph quite nicely as you can begin with which side of the coin your argument will lie. Of course you can argue both for and against or by using persuasive and dissuasive arguments.

Which ever way you go, you can be sure than the start of an essay will become evidently easier by posing a question in the title.

Tip #7 – Start with an anecdote

A short anecdote can be a great opener for your essay, but only if the topic and your teacher allow it.

You can take stories from your own life experiences, or perhaps a one from a character that forms part of your essay. This will help when linking things together later on in the essay.

An anecdote is an effective way to draw in your audience by grabbing their attention. After all who doesn’t like reading about other people happenings. Just ensure the incident is a real life event, as it is easy to spot fakes, which will do nothing for the believability of the remainder of your essay.