7 GREAT WAYS TO START AN ARTICLE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.