Once you sit down in front of the blank screen, you’ll find out that putting together that first sentence is the most challenging aspect of the entire process. Getting over the hurdle will streamline the rest of the writing, enabling you to complete the task quickly and efficiently.
Lacking inspiration and knowledge about what you want to say to your audience will impede you from creating that compelling, engaging first paragraph capable of drawing the audience in. To deal with these issues, you’ll have to focus on a couple of important things before getting started.
Who is Your Reader?
The way in which you approach stay at home moms is not the same you write for an audience of engineers who pursue academic development.
Your first paragraph should speak directly to the target audience you intend to captivate with your writing. If you don’t have a clear concept of who these people are, chances are that your introduction will miss the mark.
Take some time to narrow down the key characteristics and demographics of the ideal audience. Creating a persona will simplify the task even further because you’ll find it much easier to imagine the person that you’re speaking to.
What Do You Want to Accomplish with the Text?
Now that you know your target audience, it’s time to think about the goal you’re trying to accomplish.
Some texts are created for the purpose of increasing brand recognition. Others solidify your expert position in the field. A text could be used to sell, to inform, to provoke an emotional response from the audience.
If you don’t know what your goal is, how are you going to open the article in the best possible way? A good first paragraph sets the tone and begins establishing a direction you want to take the audience in. Think about the end goal and base your introduction on it. Otherwise, you risk putting together a rather discombobulated piece.
Determine Whether You Want to Go Broad or Specific
This aspect of content writing will be dependent on the previous consideration. The writing goal will determine the approach but you’ll also have to find out just how broad or narrow you’d like to go with the topic.
The answer will depend on several things – whether you’ve tackled the topic in past texts, how knowledgeable the audience is and whether you plan to continue with follow-ups on the same topic.
A first paragraph should tell the audience right from the start whether they’re going to be reading a broad overview or a very specific look at a niche topic. Apart from engaging, a first paragraph should also provide enough information to let the reader decide whether they’re interested in the topic or not. Being creative with the opening is great but don’t make it way too abstract. After all, you should tell people exactly what you plan to share with them in the paragraphs to come.
You DON’T Have to Write the Introduction First
The final thing to remember is that you don’t really have to start with the first paragraph.
Waiting for inspiration to strike in order to write the perfect opener can take hours, even days. Don’t waste your time! Move on to the other parts of the article. As you’re crafting the idea and presenting the information, chances are that you’ll have an a-ha moment about the perfect opening paragraph.
It’s ok to come up with your own writing methodology. Just because someone else is capable of writing good first paragraphs right from the start doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing. Do your research, conceptualize the article in your head and come up with your own methodology. When you feel comfortable with the process and fully prepared, chances are that the end result will meet all of your criteria.
Violet Farah is a journalist by education and a writer by heart.
Her copywriting journey began in 2005 after she graduated from university.
Over the years, Violet has worked as a reporter, newsroom editor, SEO experts and web copywriter.
Today, she’s a published author, she works with multiple clients from all parts of the world and her passion for writing is stronger than ever.