An essay's introductory sentence is also called a hook. This sentence needs to intrigue readers enough to keep reading. While you are grabbing the reader's attention, the opening sentence also needs to be related to your persuasive essay's thesis statement. An effective opening sentence also provides a sense of context that the rest of your introductory paragraph will build on. It is often easier to write this sentence after you have drafted the rest of your essay.
Compose most of your persuasive essay first and then reread your essay's body paragraphs. Writing your introduction first will limit your ability to write, as you will be constantly self-editing to meet your introduction's limitations.
Select an introduction strategy that fits your essay's argument and content. These strategies can easily be found online and on webpages created and maintained by college English departments and writing tutoring centers, such as the Purdue University Online Writing Lab or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Introductory hooks can include telling a story, asking a question, citing a startling statistic and more.
Write several introductory sentences, one for each specific strategy. Select the one most appropriate for the style and topic of your essay. Writing is never an exact science, and what works for one essay may be entirely wrong for the next. Whichever strategy you use, opt for something dramatic and specific. For example, "A lot of people use Kindle eReaders" would not be an effective opener. It states the obvious in a bland way. On the other hand, "Kindle eReaders threaten the historical primacy of the printed book" is far more dramatic and attention-grabbing.
Reread your new introductory sentence and your essay's thesis statement. Make sure the introduction sets up your thesis. The two may not need to flow exactly into each other, but you should be able to logically progress to your thesis in only three to four sentences. Establish a connection between the two right away. For example, if your thesis is "Books, whether in a traditional format or electronic, improve comprehension and enhance knowledge," then statistics about the increased popularity of electronic books, followed by the dramatic statement, "Kindle eReaders threaten the historical primacy of the printed book, but..." would work much more effectively than "People like computers and eReaders."
Check for common problems. Introductory sentences should not be vague or too generalized. For example, "Was the banking and mortgage crisis bad for America?" is not an effective use of a question. Hardly anybody would argue with it, and it is not as specific as, "Should Wall Street financial brokers face tougher fines and regulation from the federal government?"
Revise the sentence as needed to add stronger verbs and to edit for grammar and syntax.
Richard Ristow has written for journals, newspapers and websites since 2002. His work has appeared in "2009 Nebula Showcase" and elsewhere. He is a winner of the Science Fiction Poetry Association's Rhysling Award and he edits poetry for Belfire Press. He also holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and has managed an automotive department at WalMart.