Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak James chapter 1, verse 19

7 GREAT WAYS TO START AN ARTICLE

INTRODUCTION

Many young writers are full of ideas on topics to write about but they are often stumped about how to begin a piece. Sometimes, after writing and cancelling their first few sentences, they tend to give up. Below are seven ideas of what to start your articles with. The hyperlinked posts under each number show where these suggestions have been applied.

7 GREAT WAYS TO START AN ARTICLE

1. Summarise Your Main Point

You can summarise what you want to say at the beginning. Then you elaborate on it. That is how news stories are written.

The advantage of this is that it helps give your writing focus and saves time and effort for your readers- they don’t have to fish through a sea of words to catch your main point.

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2. Ask A Question/s

You can ask some questions related to your theme in the first paragraph. Subsequently, you carefully answer those questions.

The merit of asking questions is that they provoke curiosity and engagement. Some readers would begin to answer those questions and read to see if your answers align with theirs.

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3. Tell A Brief Story

You can tell a story that you want to use as an illustration of your message. (This is actually my favourite.) Immediately after that, you connect the story to your message and drive the latter home.

Stories are great attention-grabbers and work very well as long as they are concise and clearly related to your message. And stories are everywhere. You can get them from the news, literature, the Bible, interpersonal and group communication, etc. You will recall that Jesus told a lot of stories called parables to buttress his teachings.

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4. Make A Contrast

You can show striking contrasts between your subject and something else. If it’s a person, you can show how they’ve greatly changed over time in temperament or status, you can contrast them with someone else or you can show them in diametrically opposite roles.

Exploring the differences between the two things you have identified and expanding on the one that is your focus would make an interesting read if you describe them well.

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5. Draw An Analogy

You can also make an analogy. Comparing one thing to another stimulates visualisation and keen thinking as the reader seeks to see if the analogy is tenable. Your job will be to validate your assertion that the two things are similar.

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Analogies make for compelling reading for the same reason that figures of speech aid effective writing. They elicit mental images and show us similarities we would not otherwise see between objects and other phenomena.

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6. Cite A Maxim or A Striking Quotation

You can use a related maxim or a profound quotation. Thereafter, you establish its relevance to your theme and expound on your subject.

Maxims and striking quotations are nuggets of wisdom that appeal to people’s intellect and get them ready to absorb the substantiation or invalidation of the saying by your article.

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7. Use Direct Address

You can talk to the reader directly through the second person pronoun, you. You do this when you want to establish a connection that will give the reader a sense of involvement and identification with your message.

This works best when the writer is prepared to be very frank. So do not humour or patronise the reader. And it’s not a good approach when the writer is not empathetic.

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7 GREAT WAYS TO START AN ARTICLE

These are just some examples of how to start articles. You can even join elements of two or three of these approaches. However, what you use should depend on what you’re writing. The more you read and write, the more you’ll be able to instinctively choose the right beginning for each article you write.

Beyond the devices listed above for starting an article, the content the reader meets in the first few paragraphs matters a lot. Besides being able to hold his attention, it should be appropriate to the nature of the article and make a good impression of the motivation and character of the writer. This is especially important for Christian writers, who as representatives of Christ, are expected to be trustworthy and bear the fruit of the Spirit.

EXAMPLES OF BAD ARTICLE BEGINNINGS

• A fictional story on infidelity that starts by defining infidelity or giving statistics about the prevalence of infidelity or condemning infidelity.

The inclusion of such material is inappropriate. When writing fiction, you don’t teach explicitly or do direct exposition and commentary, except through your characters.

• A personality profile that begins with praise singing of the subject. That would make the credibility of the writer suspect.

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If the subject deserves praise, it should come from direct quotes of people interviewed to write the story. It can also be deduced by the reader from the factual narration of the subject’s achievements or generosity.

• A motivational post that begins by ridiculing or disparaging the readers. A condescending attitude will elicit hostility and resistance from the readers.

Even if what you’re writing about is a common wrongdoing, do not assume all your readers are guilty. And assuming they are all guilty, they may not take kindly to being upbraided by you.

Unless you’re seeking notoriety, in which case you deliberately provoke people to receive an avalanche of insults, include yourself among the guilty by using the first person plural or lay blame on some people, not everyone.

CONCLUSION

I hope you’ve found these 7 tips on how to start your articles helpful. I would be gratified if I learnt that you’ve actually started writing (if you weren’t doing so already) and that you’re no longer bogged down wondering, “How do I start my article?”

Feel free to share your experiences and ask questions on this topic in the main comment thread. God bless you.

Further reading:

HOW TO BEGIN AN ESSAY: 13 ENGAGING STRATEGIES

A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO WRITING A COMPELLING ARTICLE INTRODUCTION

You may also like these related posts:

DON’T KNOW WHAT TO WRITE? Key to overcoming writer’s block

AFRAID YOUR WRITING WON’T BE GOOD ENOUGH? 5 tips to help writers defeat self-doubt

JUST STARTING TO WRITE? Keep it short and simple

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I am a university lecturer. I teach Mass Communication, mostly writing courses like Feature and Interpretative Writing, Magazine Article Writing and News Writing, and let’s just say I’ve been doing this for a long time. As you have probably guessed, I am a born-again Christian.

29 comments

  • Ugama Gloria Nkechinyere

    Nice one ma’am 💋……early morning lecture for me.

  • Willie Albert Zikiye

    This post is very important. These are major writing techniques to start feature leads ( articles) and alternative leads. Thanks ma.

  • Very well stated ma.
    These points if well applied help beautify an article.
    An article has to be interesting to capture the readers’ attention which will motivate them to continue reading.
    Making use of stories in article goes a long way in spicing it up.

  • Abah Okpe Gabriel

    I believe this piece is solely for me, how to start writing an article most times is difficult for me not that I don’t know how to write but how to roll out my points, how am gonna pen them down mostly, I can relate this to when I listen to some of my favourite music and feel like shaking my body to the beats, I have all the moves and steps in my head but how to bring it to life is the problem 😂
    Thank you ma for this piece.
    Practice next

  • Ezeobi Chisom Success

    This is really helpful for me…..
    Pls ma, can you throw more light on Point four- Make a contrast and Point five- Make an analogy

  • Igbokwe Rita Chinecherem

    Wow… This is so true and helpful to me. Thanks to you ma for taking out your time to enlighten me more on this. I will try to put it into practice.

  • Emmanuel Eze

    This guidelines are definitely important in writing articles, thanks for sharing because I must confess I also get stuck when trying to start articles.

  • Emmanuel Ejiofor

    I had to save this post. I like the way you gave us the hyperlinks for illustrating the points. It was very helpful. Thank you ma.

  • Nkan David

    A good detailed post as usual from our tutor. The good thing is that one can easily return to this blog anytime, anyday to learn again and get ideas on how to embark on a particular writing, whenever he/she stumbles.

    • You captured the reason for this labour of love. Social media posts are hard to locate after a long while unless you saved their links. But you can find what you want on a blog straight from a search engine.

      Have a blessed day!

  • Ossai Chidimma Linda

    I read and made mental notes and I also intend to return to this post whenever necessary.

  • Ewenike Kaosisochukwu Bethel Pedro

    If one could master these steps, writing an article would be something one could do just after waking up from slumber.

  • In writing an article, can this be applied to both fictional and nonfictional stories, ma?

    • Sometimes, yes. Read some of the stories in the Short Stories (Fiction) and Nonfiction categories on this blog and see how they were started. I don’t mean the Introductions I do to guide young people. I mean the actual beginning of the stories. Happy Sunday!

  • Thanks ma.
    I find this… So helpful, especially That Number two (Ask a question/s) is my best way to start an article because it will give me more reasons and valid points to write on.

  • Okoro Ugochi

    Well articulated, will be stored in my archive, thanks ma.

  • Chinweuba Blessing Oluchi

    This is really helpful.when writing I get stuck and do not know which direction to channel my thoughts to.
    Now that I have a better and more enlightened scope on it,I know I’ll do better

  • Okezi

    These tips are indeed helpful and will go a long way in helping me build up my writings. But, Ma, how do I overcome the fear of imperfections in writing? Cause anytime I feel I’m not getting it, I just lose interest in writing.

  • Aṅulika Iwoba

    Just what I’ve been dying to read!
    Recently, I wrote a piece that began with a brief story, but wasn’t very confident about the validity of that style.
    But only yesterday, I read a story from the Feature text that used the same format, and I was encouraged to write further, and now this!
    Thank you so much ma

  • Ekechukwu Francisca

    Good morning ma.
    This really came in handy. Thank you so much for sharing this

  • Asogwa Christian Tochukwu

    Thanks so much ma’am.I must confess that the aforementioned tips are very helpful and captivating. I learnt that one should organize his/her thoughts in an orderly manner while writing.

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