How to Write an Introduction – Examples of Leads That Hook Readers

Written by on July 11, 2008 in Academic Writing Tips, Nonfiction Writing, Writing Tips with 1 Comment

Knowing how to write an introduction will make writing easier! These examples of leads that hook readers are from published writers – they’re from Between Interruptions: 30 Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood.

Before the tips, a quip:

“Think of everything that happens at the very beginning of a story: The reader makes decisions about the story,” writes Reissenweber in ”The Art of the Start” in The New Writer’s Handbook: A Practical Anthology of Best Advice for Your Craft and Career. “They haven’t yet committed to completing it and they are feeling their way around how much they want to commit.”





But wait, it gets better…

“Your reader is not a penniless and weary traveler who will be happy to take any bed you can offer. They are discerning, with plenty of money for a night’s sleep and if you show them something uninspired, they’re off to the next inn. You have to work to get them to stay with you,” writes Reissenweber .

Successful writers have to entice readers - and editors – to stay with them! Here’s how to write a great introduction for writers – and it’s all about hooking readers…

Reissenweber boils successful writing down to an art: hard work for you, happiness for your readers.

To learn how to write a great introduction, check out these beginnings in Between Interruptions: 30 Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood, which contains essays from writers mostly about being working moms. Edited by Cori Howard and published by Key Porter Books (who, by the way, have very politely rejected four of my book proposals).

How to Write an Introduction and Hook Readers

Example of an Introduction That Reveals the Writer

“I am my father. Except my father never cried at work. He’d come home and my mother would pour him a Scotch and he’d shout at us instead. I come home and my husband pours me a glass of merlot, and sometimes I shout at him, and sometimes I tell him I cried at work.” (“I Am My Father” by Sheree-Lee Olson).

  • This is a great introduction because it reveals Olson’s vulnerability – she cries at work – and her bitchiness – she drinks and shouts at her husband. She’s totally authentic and real right from the first sentence. Effective writing always involves gritty reality.

An Introduction That Makes Readers Laugh

“Before I had children, I was the perfect mother.” (“Unhinged” by Jen Lawrence).

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  • This is a great introduction because it makes us chuckle. We have something to relate to, because we all know what it’s like to be perfect at something…until we actually do it. Lawrence has tapped into the human condition (my, how pretentious).

An Introduction That Makes Readers Curious

“I came to motherhood at knifepoint.” (“Thin White Line” by Carol Shaben).

  • This is a great introduction because it keep us reading, or at least wanting to know more. Did Shaben deliver her kid during a robbery, or did she have a C-section? Read Between Interruptions: 30 Women Tell the Truth About Motherhood to find out…Effective writing always involves teasing your readers with the possibilities.

All of these successful introductions offer contradiction and vulnerability. These leads pose questions that need to be answered. They offer characterization, theme, and even a hint of setting.

Of the 30 introductions in Between Interruptions, I only found three gripping leads that made me sit up and take notice. The rest were fine, but not outstanding. See how hard it is to write a great beginning? Successful writing is a beast to wrestle with, even for the most seasoned hunter/writer.

If you’re ready to tackle a whole different beast, read How to Make Your Writing Edgy and Quirky.

Do you have any questions or thoughts on how to write introductions? Comments welcome below!

You may also find 5 Traits of Top Writers – What Makes Good Writers Good? helpful.

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  1. Dean says:

    heh heh great examples. I’m inspired

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