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“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” — George Orwell, Ho-hum — huh?Orwell’s opening line creates a slight but immediate discordance that sets you up for an unsettling experience.Instead of something broad like “Women have been second-class citizens throughout history” – which could only be backed up by a far broader study than possible in an undergraduate essay – it would be better to keep more focused.
It’s not something that’s likely to lose you marks.
The advice you get from tutors will probably focus instead on the reading you’ve brought in, the evidence you’ve assembled and the argument you present.
You probably have a decent idea what the purpose of the introduction is: to establish what will be covered, and perhaps also what will be argued, in the essay.
At this point you’re not making the case, but simply stating it.
, “It’s always best to start at the beginning.” That’s where editors and literary agents generally get going, so perhaps you should, too.
Here are some strategies, accompanied by exemplars from literature, for making the first line of your novel or short story stand out so that the reader can’t help but go on to the second and the third and so on to see what else you have to say: “‘Take my camel, dear,’ said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass.” — Rose Macaulay, Are you in the mood for amusement?
Here are a few things to keep in mind when penning that surprisingly difficult opening line.
It’s worth remembering that every sentence in an essay has a purpose.
A spot-on metaphor expresses the story’s nihilism, letting you know what you’re in for and lugubriously inviting you in. — You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law.” — William Gaddis, Somebody got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning — and maybe the bed’s shoved up against the wall, and that attitude is a permanent condition.
“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” — C. Lewis, The author of the Chronicles of Narnia no sooner introduces by name a new character in the latest installment than, in just five more words, he succeeds in telling you everything you need to know about him. The stage is set for an unhappy beginning, middle, and ending.