If you are writing a literary analysis essay it is very important that you find a way to grab your reader’s attention right from the beginning. You want to draw a reader in so that they are eager to find out what you have to say about a particular literary piece. You also want to make sure that your opening paragraph is:
- gives your reader a clear indication of what your thesis or idea is;
- written in such a way that there is a logical progression of ideas from one sentence to the next.
You may be asking yourself how you can fit all of these things into one paragraph without making it “stuffed”. Here are some tips that you can use to help you.
Keep in Mind What You Are Writing and What You Are Writing about
This sounds easy but it is one rule that many essayists tend to forget about. You want to keep in mind that a literary analysis paper is specifically designed to look at a particular piece of writing. Your goal, as an author, is to come up with a definitive idea regarding a piece of literature and express that idea or conclusion to your reader.
It doesn’t have to be boring, and it doesn’t have to be rigid or inflexible but it does have to have a specific idea or thesis and utilize examples and information from the piece itself to support your arguments. You also need to keep the tone professional rather than conversational. An essay is more of a formal style of writing and the language you use should reflect that.
Once you have figured out what you want to write about, it is time to write your opening paragraph.
Remember That Your Opening Line Must Be the Most Critical
Your opening line is perhaps the most critical part of your essay because it is what makes your reader want to continue. Think about it like a headline for a news article. Some headlines and opening lines immediately make you want to read more. They build excitement for the reader. Others may be more passive or less entertaining. You want to be sure that when you write, your opening sentence falls into the first category.
To achieve this goal, you may want to use one of the following opening variants:
- A passage from the piece you are writing about;
- A relevant quote from someone famous. This can either be directly related to the piece or illustrate your thesis about the piece;
- A question that may provoke thought or emotion in your reader.
From there you can continue and outline what your thesis is. Keep in mind that the arguments you will be making to illustrate your point will come later in the essay itself and do not need to be mentioned in the opening paragraph. If you structure it properly you may find that your opening paragraph flows well and feels neither rushed nor overloaded.
Avoid Unnecessary Words and Phrases
Of course, it is important to know what not to do when writing your essay’s opening paragraph. This is the time when language is especially important. A good opening paragraph will have language that is very precise and which can create a clear impression of what you are trying to say. Therefore, you must avoid the number of unnecessary words that do not support or illustrate your point and that may cause vague impression in the reader.
It is also important to place your thesis statement in the proper position in your opening paragraph.
Placing it at the end of the introductory paragraph will help ensure that your reader recognizes it for what it is: the central, unifying idea that will pull your custom written essay together.