A bad first impression can ruin a relationship—and it’s not so great in writing, either.
You don’t want a long, rambling introduction that leaves readers wondering when you’re gonna get to the point. Your audience shouldn’t have to ask why they’re bothering to read it at all.
At the same time, you don’t want to overwhelm them with too much information and detail all at once.
Your intro should pull the audience in and make them want to keep reading. It should provoke their curiosity and even hint at a reward for finishing.
Your headline might do some of this work for you. (Check out my tips for writing strong headlines.) But your introduction should keep that momentum going.
Here’s how to give yourself—and your reader—a strong start.
With creative writing, you could start with dialogue—it makes the reader wonder who’s speaking, and to whom. You could start in media res, dropping the audience right into the action. Or consider one sentence that gives us a hint of who the main character is, or the story to come.
Think of what these famous first lines evoke:
- Call me Ishmael. ~ Moby Dick
- They threw me off the hay truck about noon. ~ The Postman Always Rings Twice
- It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. ~ Pride and Prejudice
For informative or professional writing, you can still use some of these principles. Consider including a shocking statistic, a controversial opinion, a fascinating question, or a heart-tugging situation to draw your reader’s attention. State the problem you intend to solve, the result your reader can expect, or the lesson you will teach them. Try to keep all this as brief as possible.
If your reader needs some background information, don’t hold back, but be as brief and get to your main point as soon as possible. Provide only as much as they really need. Try to save specific details for the main body of your piece, which should continue what the introduction began.
You want your audience to read your whole article (or blog, email, letter, etc.). Starting off strong, without wasting their time, will help them stick with you to the end.
Why did I include this in a blog post about editing?
I included introductions in my editing mini-series because they are crucial to your audience. They deserve to get special attention during the editing process. Don’t underestimate the power of a good introduction!
Plus, just because your reader sees your introduction first, you don’t have to write it first. Intros and conclusions can be challenging. If you already know what you want to say in the body of your writing, you can write that first, and complete the introduction later.
Need a little help following this advice?
That’s what I’m here for!
I help marketing teams find the right words for their content, so they can save time and communicate more effectively.
I also provide editing and proofreading services, to give you a fresh set of eyes and help you get the most out of your existing content.
And if you’re trying to create a brand-new content plan, I can help you strategize and convey the right message to help you build your reputation and gain new leads.
Got a project in mind? Tell me about it and get a free quote!