Start an Essay with Baits to Hook Your Readers

Have you ever raged (or rage quitted) because you do not know how to start an essay?

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If your answer is “yes”, you’re not the only one who feels that way! Admittedly, I oftentimes take the beginning of the essay for granted because I tend to focus more on writing sound arguments. Looking back, I realized that the first sentence plays a significant role in keeping my readers glued to my work.

The purpose of this guide is to give you insights and techniques on how to begin your essay. It takes time (and several revisions) to create a “perfect” beginning for your essay.

This is our outline:

Readers, hop on the knowledge train and fasten your seat belts! Let’s learn something new today!

Can You Start an Essay With A Question?

From my experience, it is okay to begin your essay with a question. A question is like your research objective. Let me give you an example:

Why did Croatia join the EU and why are the theories applicable to the said country?

Through this question, I will answer it by stating the reasons why Croatia joined the European Union and argue as to why Liberal Intergovernmentalism best explains Croatia’s political move.

See? The questions are there to fulfill the objectives of my paper. Questions are also an avenue for my arguments.

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Words to Start an Essay

This would depend on the type of essay you are going to write. Try to experiment which types of words best suits your essay. However- Generally speaking- you can begin your essay with the following words:

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary states that it serves as a modifier of a noun. Adjectives are used to signify the quality or quantity, or even to specify it as something distinct.


  1. Quiet people have the noisiest minds- Or so I heard.
  2. Cute animals are the best.

It modifies another adverb, an adjective, or a verb.


  1. Unfortunately, she died of illness
  2. You are too proud of your achievements!

Nouns can be the subject of a verb. They can also be in a form of pronouns such as “He”, “She”, “They”, and etc.


  1. I dare to dream big.
  2. They ate their hamburgers like famished wolves.

Verbs express action or a mode of being.


  1. Look! There’s a bird in the sky!
  2. Sleeping for 24 hours is a world record for me.

How to Start Off an Essay?

What are you going to write about? Is it a paper about an academic paper about history or a fun experience in the countryside?

Here’s the reality- your audience will probably not read your whole paper if it does not have a catchy introductory sentence. It should be a “trap”. If your readers are “trapped”, then they are more compelled to read the rest of your essay (at least, most of the time).

Yes, you have to make your paper click bait worthy or attention-grabbing. You can begin with the following:

  1. Statistics- This is a common trick to use. If you are writing about nuclear weapons you can say that nine countries possess a total 14, 175 of the said weapons.
  2. Definitions- Need I say more? All technical terms used in the essay should be introduced first. If you find beginning your essay with the definitions as cliché or generic, you can start off your essay with a fact/data. Then, follow it up with the definition.
  3. A DYK (Did you know) fact- You can add an interesting fact about your topic. For instance, you can say which country has the most nuclear weapons.
  4. An insight- It can be your thoughts about the topic on hand. You can even try writing a vivid description! Believe it or not, it’s one way to bait your readers to your paper.
  5. A question- This is a plus point for me because this is the writer’s attempt to engage with me.
  6. A dialogue- This is perfect for narrative essays.
  7. Thesis statement- It is your main claim or a brief summary of your arguments/essay. Generally, it is placed at the end of the introduction. However, it can be also be written at the beginning. Either way, clarify this with your teacher. From my experience, a thesis can be placed anywhere in the introduction.
  8. Whenever I begin my essays, I usually assume that the reader does not know anything about my topic. However, if you are writing for a specific audience, then that’s a different story. In this context, general knowledge or obvious facts are not counted as “interesting”.

Points to remember:

  • When you write facts or statistics, please remember to relate it with your overall topic.
  • Depending on the type of essay, you would have to make necessary adjustments to tailor your introductory sentence to the essay genre. This also applies when you are setting the tone of your paper.
  • Remember to make the beginning of your essay flow smoothly and logically.

Let’s proceed!

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Types of Essays (How to begin with each essay type)

Just from its name alone, this genre allows you to describe an emotion, experience, person, or a place. The description should be vivid in such a way that it paints a mental picture on the reader’s mind.

You have to use concise vocabulary to be able to write a more moving and cinematic essay. To begin your essay, you have to set the scene first before describing the subject.


  1. Every Wednesday, I visit the park to take pictures of wildlife. What makes my trip interesting is a woman who exercises in a secluded area of the park.
  2. Waking up early morning is an everyday struggle for me. My mind is set, but my body refuses to obey akin to a hard-headed child.

You are expected to expound on an idea and to evaluate it. You are too supplement evidences to support your ideas. It can be an analysis, a compare and contrast essay, or giving an example.

I recommend to write a brief background information about your topic. It can be a definition of terms, data, or an insight.


  1. South-South cooperation is a collaborative work among countries located in the South with regard to political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, and technical sectors.
  2. With the devastating effect of natural disasters and internal conflict, it is important to engage in transition to relief to development. However, there are obstacles such as weak governments in affected countries, lack of collaboration, and the inability to expand the scope of programs implemented.

Narrative essays allow you to write about your own experiences. It is usually anecdotal and personal. Interestingly, descriptive language plays a significant role here as it helps you concretize your experience to the reader.

Since narrative essays are in your point of view, it is natural to use the pronoun “I”. This type of essay should have a setting, plot, characters, or a conclusion/moral lesson.

To begin your narrative essay, you can try to pose a question to your audience to (hopefully) draw them into your essay. You can also contextualize your essay by introducing the setting, the main characters, or a short background information.

Note: You may also add a dialogue at the beginning. That’s one another way to “bait” a reader.


  1. I stared at the moving images on the screen as I mechanically pop one potato chip in my mouth — How many days had passed since I watched my favorite series?
  2. Do you know what it feels like not to bring extra money?

In this essay, you have to take a stand and to justify it with evidence or even extensive research. You have to convince your reader that your side of the argument is valid. What makes it different from an expository essay is that the latter is more focused on giving facts.

Just like the expository essay, you can begin your argumentative essay by defining terms or adding introductory information. In the example below, I wrote about the Six-Party talks before making my point.


  1. Xiaodon Liang (2012) states that the talks are a series of multilateral negotiations held since the year 2003 and attended by the following countries; China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, and the United States. Its purpose is to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program. (A paper on North Korea’s Nuclear Program: Is Disarmament Possible?(2015) )

Given this, there’s another type of essay you should consider. Do you know what that is? It’s a college application essay. It’s competitive because you have to demonstrate your skills as a writer. Moreover, you have to prove to the committee that you stand out from the rest of the applicants.

A college application essay not only gauges your skill, but it is also serves as a gateway to your personality.

How to Start a College Application Essay? (With Examples)

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Read and understand what is asked in the prompt. You can’t begin drafting your essay without going through the questions twice or thrice. Do take note of the objectives of the prompt- Do you need to prove a point or to narrate something?

Once you understand the prompt, you can now brainstorm and draft your college application essay.

As usual, start with a killer hook. You can never go wrong with that. Same rules apply, but please make sure that your hook suits the essay prompt.

Write something interesting about yourself or your experience. Believe me, you’re not a boring person. You have a story to tell. You can even pose a question to your reader. Let’s say I’m writing about hating my first volunteering experience, I can say:

  • Volunteering? I despite it because it imposes forced charity. I admittedly used it to gain additional points in school. After all, nothing beats being the top of the class.

Here’s another example:

  • Disagreement is like pineapples on pizza- It breeds conflict.

Even if you set an excellent “trap”, you have to be lively and engaging to prevent the committee from getting bored.Remember folks, just be yourself- in a good way I mean.

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The content or topic of your paper is simply not enough to impress your readers. The first sentence is also a way to make an impact. Hey, you could even score an A+ Who knows?

Don’t take the beginning of your essay for granted, okay?

Good luck and see you!

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