Writing The Best Opening Sentence For A Five-Paragraph Essay
Writing the opening line of an essay can result in a highly effective opening line that sets both the reader and writer up for success.
Nothing is more important to achieving success with a five-paragraph essay than an effective introductory paragraph with a powerful opening line. While the five-paragraph essay is not really about “good writing”, it is about good structure, logic, and organization.
Mastering these elements allows the essay writer to adapt the form to serve his or her own needs in a variety of situations. Regardless of whether the essay is a five-paragraph essay assigned by a high school English teacher or a feature essay in The New Yorker, however, it always comes back to the all-important opening line.
Write The Introductory Paragraph Of A Five-Paragraph Essay Last
It is not a bad idea for the writer to write the introductory paragraph after the thesis statement and body of the essay have been drafted. This way, the writer can construct an introduction that best introduces the essay he or she has written.
Begin by spending a disproportionate amount of time developing the thesis statement. Then write the body of the essay based on “the roadmap” outlined in the thesis. Once the thesis and body of the essay are complete, the writer can then confidently return to the introductory paragraph.
The introductory paragraph is the writer’s opportunity to tell the reader how to read the essay. It establishes the ground rules and tells the reader what to expect in terms of content and style. Frequently, the essay that addresses the prompt and does what it says it is going to do in the introductory paragraph is the essay that receives a good grade.
The Best Opening Sentence For An Essay
Beyond the thesis, the most difficult part of writing an effective introductory paragraph is writing the opening sentence. In general, the opening sentence should “hook” the reader. It should also be non-controversial and relatively straightforward. Consider, for example, Ian Frazier’s opening sentence to his essay entitled “Hungry Minds; Tales from a Chelsea soup kitchen” (The New Yorker, 26 May 2008):
“The Church of the Holy Apostles, at the corner of Twenty-eighth Street and Ninth Avenue in Manhattan, is a church only two-sevenths of the time.”
This opening sentence hooks the reader (“I want to know why a church is only a church two-sevenths of the time”) while remaining non-controversial (all the information is factual). This opening sentence puts the reader “in the ballpark” without trying to jam in all the details about exactly what the essay will attempt to do.
Introductory Paragraphs For Essays On Pieces Of Literature
For an essay about a piece of literature, the opening sentence might include factual information about the author, the text, or the period in which the book was written. John Updike’s essay on Toni Morrison’s new novel (The New Yorker, 3 November 2008) is an excellent example of an opening line:
“Toni Morrison has a habit, perhaps traceable to the pernicious influence of William Faulkner, of plunging into the narrative before the reader has a clue to what is going on.”
In addition to being factual and well-written, this opening line also establishes the writer’s voice (almost colloquial but with complex syntax and multifarious diction) and authority (the literary allusion to Faulkner suggests the writer knows a thing or two about literature).
Finishing The Introductory Paragraph
Making one’s way from the opening sentence to the thesis statement at the end of the introductory paragraph is only a matter of adding increasingly more specific information about the essay’s topic until the thesis statement can be comfortably inserted.