Writing the introductory paragraph can be one of the most challenging aspects of the writing process. It’s hard to know where and how to begin. The hook, bridge, and thesis approach funnels the reader into your specific topic without overwhelming them. When an essay starts right away with information, it’s almost like diving into cold water, rather than being eased into it. This can also make the reader confused, which is something any writer wants to avoid.
While it is important to be concise and direct in your opening paragraph, and in fact you may even choose this "cold water" approach if it fits your essay's purpose, there is much to be said for keeping your reader interested by easing them into your main point.
An introduction should hook, or engage, readers and give them some insight into where you'll take them. The first sentence or two of your first paragraph set the tone for the entire piece. Think of it like the first impression for your essay. Here are some ideas for a strong start:
Whichever approach you decide to use to begin your essay, keep in mind that it's very helpful to you and to the reader to directly state your clear and well-developed thesis in the introduction (see our page on thesis statements). The thesis will guide the rest of the essay.