When writing an article, blog, or piece of content, do you struggle to find the right opening sentence? If you find it difficult to get started, it’s useful to know there are a few proven techniques you can rely on.
Every writer knows that the first paragraph or two needs to be compelling enough to grab attention and make the audience want to keep reading. In our copywriting agency, we have a team of outstanding copywriters who know how to deliver exactly what the reader wants to see. If you use one of the techniques described below, you’ll be well on the way to creating the same unmissable content.
Here’s a look at some tried-and-tested ways to structure your intro, including examples of how they work.
One of the biggest challenges every writer faces is how to make content relatable to the reader. To arouse interest and keep reading, the writer needs to show how the subject will be personally relevant – and this isn’t always easy.
If you start your piece with a question, however, your reader will be automatically drawn in. Whether they realise it or not, their mind will form a response to what you’re asking, even if on a subconscious level. A question is interactive and creates engagement right from the start.
Remember, studies show that people generally skim through content – this article proves it – so engaging with readers is crucial.
Take a look at how we began this article; we posed a question. Even the most prolific writer can find it difficult to think how to get started from time to time. Knowing the importance of the opening sentence makes it almost inevitable that it’s one of the hardest bits. By asking a question which we know will strike a chord with the majority of writers, we instantly engaged your attention.
This is a technique that you can use with almost any style of writing.
When you crafted an essay or dissertation during your education, you had the luxury of slowly building up to your main points, layering together a background before reaching your conclusion.
It’s very different writing for a commercial audience.
Whether you’re delivering information, trying to achieve a sale or offering a service, your reader won’t have a long attention span. This means you need to make it clear right away what you’re offering.
It can feel unnatural to skip the warming up stage but your reader won’t mind. They want to know what you’re offering and why it matters to them. And they won’t stick around to find out the answer if you don’t make it clear from the start.
The answer to the universe may well be 42, but when it comes to copywriting, you’d be better sticking to three. Scrutinise lyrics, stories and writing which are riveting and underneath the surface you’ll find a rhythm to the content.
There’s a balance to the Rule of Three that makes the writing sound more balanced and pleasing, and there are many examples. Sometimes it’s subtle and at other times more obvious, but it always offers an equilibrium to the text.
For example, would Santa’s exclamation be quite as appealing if it was merely ‘Ho, ho‘? And would the much-loved Mark Antony speech be quite as famous without the trio of ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen…‘?
We are naturally attuned to look out for sets of three in text, and using this rule in writing creates an appealing cadence. Check back to our intro and you’ll spot the Rule of Three used in the first 10 words, making the content sound instantly engaging.
The goal of writing is to pull your audience into your writing until they’re utterly absorbed in what they’re reading. Using delayed transitions is an interested technique which takes your audience further down the page and almost unconsciously into your content.
A transition is a word that joins two sentences together but you can use it in a different way than intended to great effect. Consider this:
A transition is a word that joins two sentences together.
But you can use it in a different way.
To great effect.
And it can draw your audience in, making them want to read more.
By using short sentence and transitions at the start of a new sentence, it creates an interesting grammatical structure that’s very appealing.
This style is more informal and won’t be suitable for all types of content but where it can be used, it’s a very effective way of capturing attention.
If you use any of these tips to create your intro, you’ll find it much easier to create a real impact. All of the above are proven methods that many successful writers use.
Another helpful idea is to write the intro last, after you’ve created the rest of your content. Not only will you be in the flow, making it easier to create what is arguably the most important part of the text, but you’ll also be able to make it fit the rest of the content more closely.
Now you’ve got some ideas about how to write a powerful intro, it’s over to you to put the theory into practice.