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How Do I Craft an Opening Sentence?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Many writing teachers are quick to tell students that the opening sentence is one of the most important sentences in an essay or other written work, and for good reason: if a reader does not like your first sentence, he or she is unlikely to continue reading, which means your efforts will have gone to waste. Spending a fair amount of time developing a good opening sentence will ensure your reader gets hooked into your topic and continues reading until he or she comes upon your thesis statement, or main argument of the paper. Start by thinking about what your readers are likely to want to read about.

The opening sentence should be catchy and vibrant. Starting an essay with a bland statement like, "The 50 states of the United States are each different" will not only bore your reader, but also give them a reason to stop reading. After all, if the first sentence is uninteresting, the rest of the essay is likely to be uninteresting as well. Adding details helps enhance the opening sentence and allows the reader to connect to it in some way. The previous example can be enhanced by saying something like this: "Whether you're looking for fresh maple syrup from the woods of Maine or a vibrant history lesson in the streets of Boston, the individual states in the U.S. can offer you an experience to remember."

Opening sentences grab the reader's attention.
Opening sentences grab the reader's attention.

Of course, even the most well-written opening sentence can be a dud if it is not written for the right audience. The example given above may work well for a school essay, for example, but it may not work at all when writing a cover letter for a job. When you are writing your opening sentence, think carefully about who you are writing for; if it is a potential employer, take a look again at the job description and pick out key words that seem to be the priority of the employer. Include such key words in your opening sentence and tell the employer how those words pertain to you.

Writers should craft an opening sentence by thinking about what their audience might be interested in.
Writers should craft an opening sentence by thinking about what their audience might be interested in.

Business letters can be difficult to make interesting, and your first sentence will need to be well written so the letter stands out above all others. Prioritize information that you must include in the letter so you know what to write first. Your first sentence should deliver the most important information right off the bat; many people reading business letters will read the first line or two before setting it aside, so if you do not get to your point right away, you may miss out on an opportunity.

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    • Opening sentences grab the reader's attention.
      By: Irochka
      Opening sentences grab the reader's attention.
    • Writers should craft an opening sentence by thinking about what their audience might be interested in.
      By: Masson
      Writers should craft an opening sentence by thinking about what their audience might be interested in.