Creative introduction
 Dialogue introduction
Personal introduction
 Quotation
creative lead catches the
reader off-guard with an
opening statement that leaves
the reader smiling or wondering
what the rest of the essay
Imagine yourself a freshman in high school,
beginning your independence. As the oldest
child, I was the first to begin exploring the
worlds of dating, extra-curricular clubs and
upperclassmen. However, one afternoon my
parents sat my two sisters and me down.
They said. . .
I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls
and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel
train stations on my lunch hour breaks, making
them more efficient in the area of heat retention.
I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees; I
write award-winning operas; I manage time
efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three
days in a row.
Explanation: Both of these creative leads
engage the reader, one placing the reader in the
author’s shoes, and the other amusing the
reader by listing bizarre achievements.
An action lead takes the reader into the middle of an
action sequence. It forces the reader to read on to
discover its significance. Perfect for short essays
where space is an issue or for narrative essays that
begin with a story line.
I promised God I would eat all my peas, obey my
parents, clean my room, do my homework, and never
cause anyone a moment’s bother, but He didn’t care. I
could hear my father pace. With each heavy step
echoing loudly throughout the silent house, my family’s
anxiety and anticipation mounted while awaiting news
of my grandfather’s health. My heart racing, I watched
the clock, amazed that time could crawl so slowly.
Finally, the telephone interrupted the house’s solemn
silence. I heard my father repeating the words, “yes, yes,
of course.”
Surrounded by thousands of stars, complete
silence, and spectacular mountains, I stood atop
New Hampshire’s Presidential Range, awestruck
by nature’s beauty immediately, I realized that I
must dedicate my life to understanding the
causes of the universe’s magnificence.
Note the images created by these two leads.
The first of a troubled grandchild, beseeching God’s aid and the
Like the action lead, the dialogue lead brings
the reader directly into the action, only this
time in the form of dialogue.
“You can just take that back, boy!”
This order, given by me to Cecil Jacobs, was
the beginning of a rather thin time for Jem and
me. My fists were clenched and I was ready to
let fly. Attica had promised me he would wear
me out if he ever heard of me fighting any more;
I was far too old and too big for such childish
- To Kill a Mockingbird
On the verge of losing consciousness, I asked
myself, “Why am I doing this?” Why was I
punishing my body? I had no answer; my mind
blanked out from exhaustion and terror. I had no
time to second-guess myself with a terrifying man
leaning over my shoulder yelling, “You can break
six minutes!” As flecks of spit flew from his
mouth and landed on the handle bar of the ergo
meter, I longed to be finished with my first
Saturday rowing practice and my first fifteenhundred-meter “erg test.”
A key aspect of the first of these leads is the identity awareness
of growing up with bias. The second
Of these leads engages the reader with the question, which
becomes a life of its own, where the reader wonders as well.
Why does he do this?
The Personal Introduction lead takes the reader into the
writer’s mind.
It says, “This is what it is like to be me.”
It is always in the first person and usually takes an informal,
conversational tone.
I chuckle to myself every time I think about this. I am
perceived as a mild-mannered, intelligent individual until I
mention that I am involved in riflery.
“Yuk! I hate history. I don’t want to know what happened a
hundred years ago. I’m interested in the present and the future.”
These remarks may be heard in many middle school hallways. I
know I felt the same way when I was about twelve or thirteen,
but then I started reading historical fiction and realized that
studying history could be like reading or listening to a story.
Once my approached changed, so did my attitude toward my
history classes.
If you choose this type of lead, make sure that your
question is an extremely compelling one and that your
experiences provide answers. Otherwise, your lead
may come off as a “lazy introduction.”
Influence? Why is it that the people who influence us
most influence us in ways that are not easily quantified?
Through her work with the homeless, my mother has
shown me the heroism of selfless dedication to a worthy
With one word, this introduction takes an essay question
about the person who has most influenced you and turns
it back around. The reader is compelled to read further
and discover more.
The quotation introduction is most effective when the
quote you choose is unusual, funny, or obscure, not too
long, and from those to whom you are closest. Choose a
quote with a meaning you plan to reveal to the reader as
the essay progresses.
“Experience is what you receive when you don’t get
what you want.” I remember my father’s words as I
tried to interpret the value of my stock portfolio
plummeting fast. Retirement will have to wait,
dreams of relaxing days will have to wait, and major
repairs will have to wait. I couldn’t imagine the
many experiences I will receive because of the falling
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