How to Write a Good First Line of an Essay

Sitting in front of the computer, you stare at the blank document, seemingly taunting you to try and write something interesting on it. You read your assignment for the day once again. “Write an essay about why you think Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election.” The topic is a daunting task for you. There are two questions driving your emotions at that moment. The first, is “What were those reasons again? I know heard about it somewhere.” The other is, “The elections are so last season. How can I make this boring topic interesting?” The two words that spell problems for any essay are “boring” and “interesting.” That all important first line, known as the “hook” needs to be eye catching. It has to pop from the page in order to make your teacher or your reader want to continue reading your thoughts as you wrote them. It is the “hook” that poses the problem for most students. That all too important “first line” of the essay that either means you get a good grade because you were able to interest your teacher in what you have to say, or a mediocre grade because your teacher lost interest in the paper that you wrote and, as a result, did not finish reading the rest of the essay. If the first line of an essay is that important, why aren’t the students taught how to write that interesting hook first? That’s because writing an effective hook takes practice and time. That is not to say though that one cannot be taught how to write an interesting first line. In truth, there are just a few guidelines that a student has to follow in order to write an interesting first line in that all too important essay assignment.

  • Start writing the essay in the middle. Sure, the introduction is important. However, it is difficult to introduce a topic when you don’t even know what the discussion you will be presenting looks like yet. Forget the introduction. Just write the body of the essay first. When you have the discussion completed, the introduction will practically write itself.
  • You’re drawing a blank because you are not familiar with the topic provided. This is where your support system of friends and family come in. Inspiration is normally one of the best driving factors for an interesting first line. Ask others about their experiences or opinions on a given matter then figure out which one(s) you identify with. Use the words of others to create that interesting opening sentence.
  • Figure out something interesting about yourself that can relate to the topic you need to discuss. For example, if you are asked to discuss the importance of your name, open the essay by saying that sometimes, you wish you could legally change your name. Then tell the reader what that name you like is and why you like it. Then say, “That’s why I think people should be allowed to change their parent given name at least once in their lives.”
  • Try to relate the topic you need to discuss with something in your life. Using a personal experience to open the first line of your essay brings a sense of personal connection with the topic. It allows you to write in a more fluid and interesting manner because you identify with the given discussion.
  • Think of an interesting saying, quote, or incident that can offer a humorous look at the topic for discussion. Humor is always a good thing because your work becomes a relaxing piece of writing that allows the reader to take a step back and just enjoy what you wrote.
  • Aim to engage one or all 5 senses of the reader in the first sentence. For example, when writing about the reasons why nutrition is important, the first line of the essay can read, “I will never forget how the bitter taste of bittergourd would not leave my 5-year-old tongue, even after I wiped it down with a napkin, drank water, gulped down soda, and licked ice cream to ease the traumatic taste on my childhood tongue.” You’ve got the reader hooked by this point.
  • Present a challenge to the reader. In this age of YouTube challenges, posing a written challenge to the reader appeals to their sense of adventurism and fun. Challenging the reader in the first sentence makes them want to learn what your narrative or research is all about.
  • Posing a warning about current events in other countries as part of your research material works in a research essay. This shows the reader that you have given the topic discussion great thought and that you totally understand what the assigned topic for writing is all about.

So, it isn’t that hard to write the first line of your essay. Provided you write the first line, last. I know, it sounds confusing. Take it from me though, writing the first paragraph last is something that helps to create the perfect first line for your introductory paragraph. I should know, I wrote the first sentence of the introduction to this blog post last, which if why you managed to reach the last sentence of posting which comes, now.