How to write a brilliant opening paragraph

Every introductory paragraph is different, but all great intros have some things in common.

A good introduction (intro) will grab your attention, keep you reading and offer you the promise that you’re about to discover something you didn’t know before. So those opening words have got a fair bit of work to do.

As a journalist, I’m sometimes guilty of agonising a little bit too long over how to start an article. But I know I need to get it right or the rest of the piece is unlikely to be read.

There are several ways you can make that all important intro become extremely effective when you write.

Firstly, you want your opening line to hook your reader so they carry on reading what you’ve written. With that in mind, don’t just trot out a well-used line you’ve seen somewhere else, or one that’s full of clichés and lazy phrases. Try to be more inspired and make it sound fresh.

When you’re thinking about your intro, avoid words or phrases that are going to cause some of your readers to switch off. So don’t put in industry jargon, technical speak or obscure acronyms that those outside of your business world won’t understand, especially if you’re trying to appeal to a broader audience.

You also don’t want to bore your readers, so keep that opening sentence relatively short and succinct by cutting out any waffle. Don’t try to  squeeze loads of information into the opening line either.

A good ploy for an intro  is to tell the reader something they didn’t already know. A really interesting fact you have discovered in your research or a  quote (or a part of it) can often be effective too.

Try to avoid repeating the headline in your intro. Even if it’s really clever, does it really need saying again straight away? Instead try to make sure the opening line develops the topic and adds more to it.

Finally, try to make your writing topical. Ask yourself why are you writing it right now. Is it to promote a new product or service? If so, focus on the ‘new’ and ‘now’ if that’s the strongest angle that needs highlighting.

But remember, sitting at your keyboard trying to dream up that perfect intro doesn’t always work. Sometimes it’s a better idea to stick down a fairly pedestrian intro just to get you started. Having a blank screen can be daunting, but if you have a line or two of text there, it can get you going more easily.

It means once you’ve got further into your writing, you can return to that troublesome intro and improve it. You’ll be surprised how often you come up with the perfect first sentence just as you’ve written your last.

Top tops to writing a great intro

*Make it attention grabbing.

*Avoid clichés.

*Make it succinct.

*Tell the reader something they didn’t already know.

*Give it a topical feel.

                                                                                             by Adrian Monti