Writing Leads

The opening of your paper must "hook" or interest the reader. You might think of the lead as you create a working thesis. At other times you might leave the lead until your revision stage. The following lists some ways you might start your paper.

Note: Do not start your paper or your thesis with, "In this paper I will show. . . ." If this helps you get started and focused, use it on your rough draft; but be sure to replace it with a more interesting lead when you revise.

Ask a question that your thesis answers. Avoid restating the prompt if you are answering a prompt.

Use a quotation or a bit of dialogue that reveals a character or that comes from a source outside of your topic but relates to your position.

Give a definition. Use the dictionary if you wish to be precise; and use quotation marks. (This can be overdone.)

Give a general statement. This could be an opinion or a fact.

Make a startling statement. Give a startling statistic or fact, or think of something unusual—a different way of seeing the situation.

Give a series of facts lending urgency or power to your thesis.

Share a relevant anecdote (a short personal story). Be sure the anecdote has a point and is not too far from your thesis.

Start in the middle of an action related to your thesis.

Start with a general discussion of the topic moving to a specific, narrow thesis.

Start with a contrasting statement that shows how something should be or how it is in another part of the world, etc.

Propose an analogy. Compare your topic to something from another field that sheds some light on it.

Give a description or an example. Pull your reader in by setting the scene or showing a concrete example.

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