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How To Craft A Killer Essay Introduction (IV)

How To Craft A Killer Essay Introduction (IV)

Written by: Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin*

First impression lasts longer, goes a popular dictum. This underscores the painstaking efforts being made here at Naija Writers’ Coach to analyse the various successful techniques of opening an essay. An opening that works ensures your reader reads the piece, and does not just skim through it or even drop it altogether.

Learn to write…it’s possible.

In the first three parts of this series, we examined with relevant illustrations, how a compelling opening can be penned with a striking contrast, an important statistics, a mind-boggling question, a weird assertion, a definition of keywords or a powerful illustration.

In this part, we’d look at how other very beautiful openings may be achieved with a relevant quotation, an apt proverb or line(s) from a poem, a song or a novel.

1. A relevant quotation

your choice of quote should be determined by relevance to the subject matter, never by any other criteria. A simple guide is that if the quote tells ‘what,’ the article should tell ‘how’ (expatiate) and ‘why’ (justify). If the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the quote is not what your article sets out to provide, you may consider the quote inappropriate. See examples matched with hypothetical topics below:

A. Persistence Is A Virtue:

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – that’s how Confucius aptly captures the merits of never quitting even in the face of successive failures.

B. Learning To Write Right:

“If you’re ready to learn the craft of writing, nobody can stop you. If you aren’t interested in writing, nobody can help you,” says Muhammed Abdullahi.

(NB: Did you notice how the quotes above were attributed to their respective speakers? You may try other grammatically correct attribution too).

2. An Apt Proverb

a notorious slogan or witty aphorism can often help you say in few words, what your whole article sets out to achieve and why it is particularly worth the time of a prospective reader. You must be very choosy in using such proverbs. You can be sure your readers won’t find it impressive if you captivate them with a misleading opening proverb and go ahead to disappoint them with the body of the article that’s quite unrelated to the quote. See some good instances below:

A. Drafting A Great Essay Opening:

First impression lasts longer, goes a popular dictum. This underscores the painstaking efforts being made here at Naija Writers’ Coach to analyse the various successful techniques of opening an essay.

B. Between Versatility and Two-Facedness:

While many may insist it’s a virtue, the art of doing in Rome as the Romans do, of changing faces like a chameleon to suit different settings so that all may be pleased is the very definition of hypocrisy.

3. Excerpts From A Poem, Song Or Novel

Opening your piece with a germane and perhaps popular extract which relates to the subject matter your write-up seeks to address is an effective way of arousing the reader’s interest. Whether it is from a movie or a song, a fiction book or a verse, such extracts, if appropriately used, can help make your reader worry about the content of the article. Some examples are given below:

A. Is The Apartheid System Dead Or Alive?:

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” (excerpted from the novel, “Animal Farm” by George Orwell). With a strange regularity giving it the colouration of a rule rather than an exception, inequity in human interactions, though often denounced, is pervasive.

B. The Inevitability of Death:

It’s Death again – He’s always there –
Watching, waiting – e’er the stare!
Perhaps if I could pay a tithe…
But O! no use, he’ll never go. – “It’s Death Again,” a poem by Mark Slaughter.

(NB: other contents of your introduction may simply follow these poetic lines).

C. Three Days Inside A Shark:

Just like the legendary tagline of the 1979 American movie, “Alien” which reads: “In space, no one can hear you scream,” the palpable helplessness and drab existence a man swallowed unharmed by a fish must endure is better imagined than experienced.

D. Happiness Doesn’t Outlive Contentment:

It’s awesome to vie with more successful folks, but you’ll never realize contentment until you welcome Charlotte Vale’s counsel in the movie, “Now, Voyager”: “Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.”

(NB: Although I have greatly emphasised the opening statement, that’s not to say your introduction should be limited to a single sentence).

This piece is the fourth part in the series. You may use the links in the second paragraph above to read the previous parts.


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About Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin

Writer. Difference Maker. Entrepreneur. Author, Your Right To Write & Vertical Writing. Winner, 11 Writing Prizes.


  1. Good work akhi you are doin a wonderful job. More power to your elbow.

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