Writing a perfect introduction for a personal essay is hard. Even though the first paragraph is just a single element of your essay, it serves a very critical purpose in determining what score the essay will get.
All you need to do in the first few sentences of your personal essay is to draw the reader in.
Remember, a personal essay is where you describe a big event that occurred in life and how important the experiences were to the writer.
Writing an effective beginning in the personal essay sets the tone and acts as your first taste to the reader. That is why this article will explain a few of the tips I’ve gathered from professors regarding what they think should go in an awesome personal essay introduction.
Do not overthink the introduction, but it needs to come out good.
How to Write a Personal Essay Introduction
- Embrace curious statements
- Open with a dialogue
- Pick a strong theme
- Introduce the essay with a clear image
- Suspense and room surprises
- Personal multiplier effect
- Choose controversy
1. Embrace curious statements
A curious statement works for any essay introduction but it suits personal essays the most. This is because when writing about personal experiences, people expect to learn something that could happen to them soon or later.
Consider the example below:
I remember feeling grateful that we never said “Merry Christmas.” We didn’t say it on Christmas morning when we awoke in Virginia, during a layover at the world’s most desolate Hampton Inn & Suites, and took long showers and poured too much batter into the waffle machine…
The first sentence of this introduction is what we call a curious statement. The author is grateful that members of his family did not say “Merry Christmas” to each other. Immediately, the reader thinks, “but that’s against the norm?”
Now they will read your personal essay to find out the reason behind the unusual Christmas happening.
Related Article: How to Write a Good Introduction in an Essay
2. Open with a dialogue
The second method to introduce a personal essay is to make use of captivating dialogues.
Dialogues can convey a lot more than just telling a story. They have life in them, especially when the speaker is conveying a difficult message.
A dialogue typically makes people want to listen and so will your readers.
Look at the example below on how to write a personal essay introduction.
I can’t think of another phrase capable of causing more misery and permanent unhappiness. With the possible exception of, “Honey, I’m in love with your youngest sister.”
Make the reader feel sorry, scared, or happy for you. This is exactly what these few introductory lines in a personal essay did.
It is not always mandatory that you start with dialogue but professors recommend it 100 percent of the time. You can also make it humorous because making people laugh doesn’t always go wrong.
3. Pick a strong theme
Regarding the nature of the topic to discuss, your introduction should bolster something original and relevant to your entire essay.
Make the theme of your personal essay clear right from the introduction.
Based on our example above, you can see that the theme revolves around happiness. The writer is picking the subject based on what took happiness away from him.
A strong theme will allow you to:
- Make new connections
- Paint a strange picture to the reader
- Share unexpected outcomes and lessons
4. Introduce the essay with a clear image
If you paint a clear picture, it will engage the reader. Describing an actual image of someone will make it stand out even more. It introduces people in simple but interesting ways.
Based on the example above, someone reading your personal essay will understand the relationships of people in the story. This is one great way for how to introduce a personal essay.
Humans tend to get interested in people that are related to each other.
5. Suspense and room for surprises
Suspense is a stylistic feature that is used in great storiees.
When you want to tell a captivating story in your personal essay, make the introduction stand out by introducing an aspect of curiosity.
Make the reader anxious and eager to find out what happens next. The task is to maintain the tempo beyond the introduction.
6. Personal multiplier effect
It is not a personal essay if the story doesn’t revolve around you. Whatever you write, ensure that all the components come back to you. Remember, the essay is not about any random person or thing. The lessons you’ve learned should come out clear and informative.
Here is one more method how to write a personal essay introduction.
7. Choose Controversy
Begin with a slightly or even obviously controversial statement. The first line is what will drive your entire personal essay.
Have a look at the case below as the opening sentence:
The South has a knack for making you feel othered if you’re even the slightest bit different. If you’re not white, the right kind of Christian, conservative, straight, cisgender — you’ll be made a target. I learned all of this long before I….
Be bold with the statement.
The more the reader is likely to disagree with it, the more effective your opening statement gets.
Controversy makes the reader begin to look for a resolution in the essay. That keeps them reading.
Your introduction when writing this type of essay should achieve a couple of things. They include the following:
- Teach a specific lesson
- Tell the reader more about what needs to be understood
- Inspire empathy or feelings of regret
- Make the reader remember the message