Beyond Attention Grabbing: 5 Ways to Build an Introduction Everyone Wants to Read

Updated on September 18, 2017

Grabbing attention is mightily important to internet writing and every other type of writing as well. Have you ever read all of something that was boring in the first few paragraphs? You skipped over those boring words to read something else nearly the minute your attention was not grabbed, didn’t you?

That’s the way we readers roll in 2017. We are blasted with a staggering over-abundance of choices in media today, and that abundance has allowed us to evolve into discerning, media-savvy people. And that’s a wonderful thing all around for readers.

But, it’s not so handy for writers because where once there were only books and pamphlets, now there are nearly limitless sources and types of information available. We’ve got to up our game if we wish to keep on playing.

Let’s just face it, many of us must write and write engagingly regardless of competition or medium or anything else. To this end it is useful to borrow and update introduction methods from journalistic, creative and essay writing.

Please don’t forget that any time you think of an unusual approach to your introduction, you should always write a draft of it even if you are unsure of its quality.

An idea for an introduction that doesn’t seem to lead into the rest of the writing or that seems to stall for other reasons will prove this in the first draft, so your own process edits out bad ideas with no second-guessing necessary.

If you find yourself without an idea, try using these angles to write an introduction.

Nothing more indelibly hallmarks quality writing than an appropriate, helpful introduction.

— J.M. Dunbar

The 5 Types of Introduction

  1. The Provocative Introduction
  2. The Contrast or Conflict Introduction
  3. The Cumulative Interest Lead
  4. The Question Lead
  5. The Descriptive Lead
  6. The Combined Lead

The human hand can write about 11 words per minute but can type as many as 100 words per minute. Which speed sound more efficient?
The human hand can write about 11 words per minute but can type as many as 100 words per minute. Which speed sound more efficient? | Source

1. The Provocative Lead Introduction

Very sexy, very sticky, the provocative introduction sweeps in wearing a corset and cracking a bullwhip. It yanks at the reader’s attention toward it and then ties it down with velvet bonds. Whatever else, the provocative lead is memorable, as in naked telegram memorable.

The most famous provocative lead is “In the beginning God created Heaven and earth.”

Here are some others.

He thought he had killed his wife, but then he nearly fainted when he realized she was alive and he was covered in someone else’s blood.

Slaughter wasn’t what he thought he was sent to do.

We never thought it would go so far when we placed that advertisement.

Partly dismembered bodies floated like jetsam around us in the water.

When writing for a blog or any other internet publication, you must compete for readers with a staggering range of choices in reading material, and you must interest your reader quickly, within just a few lines, because today’s readers are habitual skimmers. The blurring pace of the internet makes hooking your readers’ attention quickly ever more important.

When writing for other purposes, you still must compete for your readers’ attention, and the provocative lead still works.

If you are having trouble writing your own provocative lead, look at a few crime novels. Novels in this genre often start off with a big provocative bang of an introduction. It’s easy for those authors because their stories are shocking and murderous. If you are writing a yearly company safety report, you may not have such an intriguing story to tell, but you can still use techniques from provocative leads to write a better introduction about yearly safety goals.

No-brainer

We have learned the most about writing from others’ writing, so don't overlook that obvious source of information when you get stuck.

2. The Contrast or Conflict Lead Introduction

This lead uses differences to highlight the topic. In a perfect world, the differences highlighted will line up in a sensible order and outline the parameters of the piece of writing you are introducing. Make that happen if your world fails to line up perfectly.

Here is an example of a contrast/conflict lead:

I simply won’t use expensive hair dye anymore. Although the marketers claim the higher end dye stays on hair longer, it does not! The commercials also claim that the color of the hair after dying is more vivid and has a brighter shine, but the difference is indiscernible. They also claim that cheap hair color damages hair more than the more expensive types, but there is no proof this is true.

Obviously, the contrast/conflict introduction lends itself to comparison/contrast writing, but it also works well when writing about a process, or evaluation or definition. It does require a bit of thought, but don’t leave this approach out of your writing arsenal.

Use Road Maps

A good introduction is similar to a road map with a trip highlighted in yellow. It names or implies the main points of the piece that follows and it leads the reader onward.

3. The Descriptive Lead Introduction

The descriptive lead is considered the storyteller’s lead because it is structured like a scene from a story. Since introductions need to be of interest and have a hook, or cliffhanger, writing a microcosmic scene can work well.

To write an introduction using this lead, try imagining the whole point of your writing in miniature, just shrink it all down in your mind’s eye. Then try to write a description of what you saw there. Rely on broad swipes and specific details.

Here is an example of a descriptive lead.

The marching band from the high school played throughout the entire afternoon, though just that endless playing itself should have alerted the townspeople that something unimaginably horrible was imminent. The children, let out of school to march along Main Street in their Halloween costumes, collected candy from the merchants along the parade route. Just about everyone in the small town was there. Everyone, that day, unfortunately included Billy Bob Bauer, the towns preeminent drunk driver. No one could see where the screaming was coming from until it was too late to get out of the way, which is why so many people died that day.

Don’t forget to appeal to all five senses when writing description: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.

As you re-read your draft, the details in the descriptive lead should stand out vividly. That is what description does best and why it works so well as a method of leading into your writing.

Maintain dramatic tension in your descriptive introductions. Give away some details, but keep the bulk of them for the body of the paper.

Writing Tip: Try thinking of writing the descriptive lead introduction as if you were a burlesque dancer. You want to take off enough of your clothes to let the audience know they will get to see more flesh eventually, but don’t show them so much that they already know where all your birthmarks are located before the lap dance.

The more writing techniques you master, the easier writing becomes and the better you become at it.

— J.M. Dunbar

4. The Cumulative Interest Lead Introduction

This lead, which uses a list of salient facts or statistics. It works so well because people are attracted to these lists. To be effective, the list needs to be long and overwhelming.

Similar to the descriptive lead, this lead’s list of facts will imply the thesis or main point of your writing because the facts you use draw another type of picture, hinting at the facts to come.

Here is an example of a cumulative interest introduction.

The cats’ shots cost $206.00 per year. Their food, a good brand, costs $576.00 per year. The litter costs another $275.00 per year. Treatments to prevent fleas and ticks costs about $480.00 per year. A spay or neuter costs $200.00 with shots included. Emergency veterinary care can cost thousands of dollars. Although having kitties isn’t at all free, it is still worth the price to me.

Some cats are more interesting than others.
Some cats are more interesting than others. | Source

If we were to build a paper from just this introduction, shots, food, litter, treatments, spays, and emergency care would be the primary points of the paper. We can guess that the paper’s thesis will be that having kitties is worth the expense. The use of specific dollar amounts strengthens the thesis and leads the reader to the writer’s conclusion.

Since an introduction organized this way lends itself to clarity, the cumulative interest lead is useful for complex subjects.

5. The Question Lead Introduction

The question lead, in which the primary question answered in the writing is asked as a way of introducing the reader to the writing, is taken from journalism. This lead is powerfully overused, but with the right approach, it still works every time.

To write an exceptional question lead, picture your readers and imagine how to phrase the question so that it has obvious impact on your readers’ lives. Think about their values, and beliefs especially, because appeals to these are potent and can attract sustained curiosity about what you are writing about.

Avoid rhetorical questions. Focus on questions that involve the reader.

If someone told you that 80% of childhood suicides where accomplished with a gun that was kept in the child’s household and that 90% of all suicides by firearm are successful, would you change your opinion about gun control? Would you volunteer your time to influence your community and legislators to do the same?

So, in developing this introduction, you will also be providing a stylish, albeit sketchy, outline and a clear indication of your thesis and of what is to come in the writing.

The Combined Leads Introduction

Combining Introduction Techniques

Lastly, don’t forget the best type of lead in to your introduction: one you fused together because it was perfect for your writing purpose. So, if you find a way to use two or even more of these introductory leads, do it.

The best writing, the kind everyone wants, is original, succinct, clearly written and engaging.

Lead strong and make an impression.
Lead strong and make an impression. | Source

What Works for You?

I prefer the ________ lead.

See results

Practice

Try these practice exercises to improve your introductions with imaginative leads.

1. Just pick any one of the types of leads and writing an introduction to a essay reflecting on the upcoming alien invasion. You may take any position on the invasion, happy, sad, scared, but try to write a dramatic, entrancing introduction.

2. Using another type of lead, write an introduction for a character sketch about your most loathed relative. Which lead do you think will work best?

3. Choose your least favorite type of lead, the one you dismissed using the minute you read about it, and write an introduction to an essay, editorial, or article about a revival you attended where snakes were handled. Be serious.

Source

Hardest Quiz on Earth Today

view quiz statistics

As always, we have enjoyed writing to you, and we appreciate your readership. You may drop by any time to read more about writing. We'll leave the site on for ya!

We'll write more about writing when we get the hay in.
We'll write more about writing when we get the hay in. | Source

Works Consulted

Donald, Robert B. Models for Clear Writing. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1994. Print.

Harris, Muriel. Prentice Hall Reference Guide. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2017. Print.

Jeff Rackham, Olivia Bertagnolli. From Sight to Insight: The Writing Process. n.d. Hardcover.

Phillips, Rance G. Baker and Billie R. The Sampler: Patterns for Composition. Lexington: Heath, 1986. Print.

Rise B. Axelrod, et. al. The St. Martin's Guide to Writing. New York: Bedford, 2016. Print.

Strunk, William and E.B. White. The Elements of Style. New York: Macmillan, 1999. Print.

Source

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        threekeys 

        2 months ago

        Richard - colourful and helpful tips. I am definitely going to try them out.Thankyou kindly!

      • kenneth avery profile image

        Kenneth Avery 

        2 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

        Richard -- amazing work. Helpful, but not too crammed with idle wisdom. Thank you so much for such a delightful hub.

        Sorry for taking so long to write.

        Life has a way of taking you to places that you really didn't want to go.

        Keep in touch.

      • Dunbar Green profile imageAUTHOR

        Richard Green 

        4 months ago from New Mexico

        Thanks, Audrey!

      • vocalcoach profile image

        Audrey Hunt 

        4 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        Informative and most interesting. I work hard at coming up with just the right introduction and your tutorial is just what I need. Thank you for sharing and thanks for the follow.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://toughnickel.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)