With the person sitting next to
you, read example introductions
Which one is the BEST?
Why do you think it is the best?
Which one is the BEST?
How did you determine which was
best? (What criteria did you create?)
What is the purpose of the
introduction to an admissions
essay or narrative essay?
Catches reader’s attention!
Establishes the narrator’s voice,
tone, mood, & point of view.
Creates enough interest that the
reader will want to continue.
Introduces or alludes to the
conﬂict you plan on addressing
in your story.
Is short in length
What makes a good intro?:
What NOT to do:
Don’t summarize what you plan on
talking about in your essay (don’t give
away the ending)
Don’t include any form of the phrase, “I
am going to write about”…
Don’t use slang
Don’t start with a quote or deﬁnition
(these are cliche)
Don’t start with a question…unless it is
a particularly interesting one.
(1) Start in the middle of the action:
“Breez in and breez out. Clear your mind by zinking of
somezing plasant.' For ﬁve minutes, all of us found
ourselves sitting cross-legged on the ﬂoor with a soft,
sleepy look on our faces as we subconsciously
nodded to the soothing rhythmic voice of our French
teacher. Our heads were still half wafting in the
delicious swirls of dreamland. Time moved by swiftly
and we were forced to tend to the grueling task of
untangling our aching frames, stiffened from
prolonged straining positions."
(2) Start with something shocking:
"When I was four years old I decided to challenge
conventional notions of the human limit by ﬂying
through a glass window. My role-model was
Superman, whose exploits on television had induced
my experiment. Nine stitches and thirteen years later,
while I no longer attempt to be stronger than steel or
faster than a speeding bullet, I still ﬁnd myself testing
my limits, mental and physical."
(3) Start with something misleading:
"I am an addict. I tell people I could stop anytime, but
deep inside, I know I am lying. I need to listen to music,
to write music, to play music every day. I can't go a
whole day without, at the very least, humming or
whistling the tunes that crowd my head. I sing myself
hoarse each morning in the shower, and playing the
trumpet leaves a red mouthpiece-shaped badge of
courage on my lips all day. I suspect that if someone
were to look at my blood under a microscope, they
would see, between the platelets and t-cells, little black
musical notes coursing through my body."
(4) Withhold information. Create mystery:
"I had a mental image of them standing there, wearing
ragged clothes, hot and depressed, looking upon us as
intruders in their world. They would sneer at our audacity.
We would invade their territory only to take pictures and
observe them like tourists.
We climbed out of the van and faced eleven men
assembled in the shade. My class, consisting of twelve
primarily white, middle-class students, felt out of place.
Our class at the Governor's School summer
environmental program included an interview with migrant
(5) Introduce a problem:
"I have often wondered whether the United
States has an obligation to get involved in the
internal conﬂicts of other countries. When does
the power to intervene become an obligation to
act? I gained some insight into this dilemma
when a small part of the Bosnian war spilled
into my home last year."
“I hate clowns. I hate vines. I hate fuzzy caterpillars. But most of all,
I hate leeches. They are full harbors of evil on Earth. Their zombie-
like way of crawling, as if their life is turned on for one second to
create that signature hump of a worm, and then quickly turned off,
instantly ﬂattening out, dead, brings me to tears. Before long they
are up again, repeating this pattern; their black covering sparkling,
creating the most shocking juxtaposition of attempted beauty on a
creature so wicked. They are shown falling from leaves, free as
children on monkey bars, their intentions seemingly unknown to the
deranged cameraman ﬁlming them. When they ﬁnd that next prey
they are spellbound, burrowing their fang-rimmed faces into the leg
of an unsuspecting hiker… Despite my aversion to the leech, I am
still planning on joining the Peace Corps.”
(6) Use vivid imagery and description:
“In college, I dated a guy named George. When he friend
requested me on Facebook many years later, I accepted.
Eager to ﬁnd out what he'd been up to, if he got married,
had kids, if he was still single and if he ever found himself,
I checked his wall, only to discover that he was maybe,
kind of, sort of... dead. I wasn't sure, so I emailed and
Hey, George, Thanks for the friend request. Quick
question, are you dead? I'm asking because your wall is
littered in posts from friends alluding to your demise. Hit
me back in spirit or via email. —Katie"
(7) Use humor:
Good or bad ﬁrst lines?
“Ever since the dawn of complex society,
individuals have struggled to incorporate
religious themes within cultural bounds.”
“The conjectural anecdote resulted in a most
calamitous insurrection directed at my nostrils.”
“Do you have a hobby so important to your life
that you feel you can’t live without it?”
Good or bad ﬁrst lines?
Avoid philosophizing / avoid making your essay
sound like a school research paper.
Use your own natural language. Avoid using
“big words” for the sake of making your writing
Avoid cliches like re-stating the prompt as a
question. If you’re going to use a question as your
opening line, it should be a really interesting one!