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How to write an impressive introduction for your personal essay
personal essay writing

How to write an impressive introduction for your personal essay

Nov 11, 2012
An impressive introduction is a key element to successfully winning over your audience. One of the best ways to encourage someone to continue reading is to demonstrate your skill and expertise in the very beginning of your essay. The formula for a personal essay introduction is similar to other introductions in that it should (a) provide a transition to the reader, (b) give viable background information, and (c) declare major writing goals and objectives. Since there are several ways to formulate an introduction you may find that some are more suitable and appropriate than others. To begin, its important to review the primary characteristics of a personal essay to better assist you in tailoring the right introduction.

What are the characteristics of a personal essay?

The purpose of a personal essay is either to inform, entertain, or re-create. This can be done by writing a narrative (including anecdotes or a series of events that occurred in the writer's life) as well as through an expression piece in which the author expresses his thoughts and feelings on a particular topic or subject matter. An important point to side note to mention is that personal essays should also serve a purpose. This may seem obvious, but sometimes in relaying stories or opinions the purpose or goal may become bit obscure. Thus, every effort needs to be made to ensure that the point of the writing is made clear to the reader and the language is appropriate for the selected audience.
Also with this form of writing it is likely that you may not explicitly state your objective in the very beginning of your essay-thats okay. Just make sure that the reader is well-informed about the course that the writing plans to take.
*For instance, if you are writing an autobiography, you may start off with a small anecdote that perhaps reveals some important people in your life or crucial background information.
*Another example is if you are writing a college admissions essay. Since these essays are usually a response to a direct question they may require a clearer indication of your main points and objectives.
And with that said; What else do I need to know about introductions?

Introductions explained

Suffice to say, many people agonize over the introduction of their paper. It could be because of the pressure of making a good first impression, or the uncertainty that comes with outlining the main points of an essay, as well as simply not knowing what to talk about. Understanding the purpose of introductions can help you better write them.
Introductions, in essence, provide the reader with a snapshot of what is to come. A reader should be able to gauge, from the quality of your introduction, much of the merit of the remainder of your paper. Likewise, introductions also provide a transition point to the reader that allows them to become 'enwrapped' in the topic you present and properly focus on what you are delivering rather than anything else that their mind may be preoccupied with.
Lastly, one of the most important functions of your introduction is to introduce your thesis or main objective. Even if you decide to do a delayed thesis (in which you mention the thesis later on at a more appropriate time ) the reader is still expecting some sort of guide or hint to what you will be exploring in your paper whether formal or informal.

How to win over your audience

In developing your introduction there are a variety approaches you can take to get things going. Some techniques are used more often than others, some old fashioned, and interesting across the board. Some introduction writing techniques may be subject-sensitive and should be carefully compared against the topic you are exploring.
For example, if you are writing about how you discovered that you wanted to be a nurse you might choose to start off with a small story or anecdote rather than a quote from someone about nursing.But as the writer you need to know your subject and identify which introduction would best suit your audience and topic.

Various ways to introduce your topic

Broad statement

This is a very basic approach to introducing an essay and involves bringing the reader in with a broad generalization and then narrowing down your discussion until you reach your final objective or thesis statement.
For example; "Working is a part of life" is a broad general statement which can be a gateway to more specific statements about a particular occupation.

Alternate point of view or concession

With this approach you may shock or intrigue your audience by stating the opposing position of your argument in the first sentence.
For example; "Critics of alternative medicine often point to the lack of empirical evidence to support such treatments, but clear and recent studies have proven otherwise."
This approach may be less common in some personal essays but can still be helpful depending on your topic.

Background material

Providing simple background information about yourself is an easy and relevant means of starting off your paper. It may not have all the 'pizzaz' as the other forms but it is definitely functional and can be of a great assistance when you are stuck and not sure how to begin a paper.
For example, "I was born to a middle class family with its roots in the steel industry" is a statement the provides the readers with some important information related to your family status and experience.


People love strong, compelling words-and if you can think of any use someone else's (just make sure to cite them)! Quotes are an excellent choice for most personal essays. You can choose a pivotal quote that connects the reader to a particular challenge you overcame, a skill you mastered, or a significant event that occurred in your life.

Short story or anecdote

As discussed earlier, an anecdote may be an appropriate and engaging way to start off your personal essay. Since the essay is about you-what better way to entice the reader than by providing them with an interesting and exciting episode of your life to introduce the topic.

Some final thoughts

Personal essays shouldn't be contained to one particular style or form (outside what is required such as first-person point of view etc). Many writers have brought compelling and amazing concepts, ideas, and innovative thoughts, all while sharing personal stories, events, and opinions. And many were done in varying formats. Likewise alternative forms of introductions, beyond the popular short story or anecdote, should be utilized as well. Ultimately, after testing out a few different starters for your essay it should become pretty clear which approach is the most appropriate for your own unique style of writing, audience and purpose.
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