3 Easy Ways to Write an Irresistible Introduction

There are a number of ways you can open a blog post, article, interview, white paper. Here are 5 Easy Ways to Write an Irresistible Introduction.

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

So begins J.D. Salinger’s iconic novel, Catcher in the Rye, arguably one of the finest opening sentences of any American novel ever written.

I’m not here to talk Salinger or the writing life or the greats of 20th century American literature. This is a marketing blog, not a book club.

I am, however, going to talk about introductions, and how to write them well.

We hear a great deal of talk about the importance of headlines, but much less is said about the value of a great introduction. Sure, you need a tempting headline to catch your reader’s eye, but without a strong, compelling introduction, the best headline ever written won’t save you.

In this post, we’ll take a look at five of the many different ways you can open a blog post, article, interview, white paper – pretty much anything with words. This is by no means a comprehensive or definitive list; there are almost as many ways to introduce your writing as there are ways to write. There are, however, some general techniques that lend themselves well to marketing copy that can be extraordinarily effective.

1 Introduction- The Quote

I chose to open this post with a quote not because I’m a fan of Catcher in the Rye. Truth be told, I’m not the biggest Catcher fan (despite my personal appreciation for Salinger’s immense literary talent and commitment to being a hardcore recluse).

The real reason I chose to open with that quote is because introductory quotes are a lazy but highly effective way of grabbing your reader’s attention without doing any real work – especially when the quote in question has a negative or otherwise memorable tone, as Salinger’s (or rather, his protagonist Holden Caulfield’s) does.

Before you’ve even read the quote in its entirety, you’re already wondering what was so lousy about the quoted individual’s life, or what “all that David Copperfield crap” really means and why the person being quoted doesn’t really feel like going into it.

Why Is This Type of Introduction So Effective?

Before we get into why this technique is so effective, it’s worth mentioning that opening with a quote only works well if the quote itself is interesting. There’s no point using a quote as your introduction if it’s something boring or predictable.

Aside from the quote itself, which should ideally be as attention-grabbing as possible, the fact that quotation marks are used indicates – obviously – that a specific individual said those words. It may not sound like it, but this can be very enticing to the reader, encouraging them to read on to see who said it. This is especially true if the quote is controversial or contrarian.

Let’s say you’re writing a piece about the potential impact of artificial intelligence on human society. Sure, you could open with a bland, generic introduction about how AI and technology have revolutionized the world as we know it, but you could also let someone else do the talking for you.

“With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out.”

2 Introduction- The Statistic or Fun Fact

Everybody loves trivia, and even if you’re a hardcore Hitchcock fan, you might not have known the fun fact above.

This technique is another powerfully effective way to grab your reader’s attention from the outset. It’s also one of the most commonly used introductions in a lot of marketing writing. This makes sense; it establishes the general topic of the piece in a fun way and offers the reader something snappy and memorable.

However, the real reason using facts or statistics as an introduction works is because it pushes our emotional buttons.

Why Is This Type of Introduction So Effective?

When it comes to content, whether a 500-word blog post or a 4,000-word long-form journalistic feature, some emotional triggers are more effective than others. In particular, there’s a scientific principle known as the von Restorff effect (named for the German pediatrician Hedwig von Restorff who first wrote of the phenomena in the early 1930s) which states that people tend to remember unusual things much more effectively than routine, expected things.

This is an extension of our natural survival instincts; our brains are wired to perceive strange or unusual things as potential threats, making them much more memorable as whatever strange thing we’re fixated on might kill us. It’s also why, if you don’t take much else away from this post, I can practically guarantee that you’ll remember the Psycho toilet-flushing fact, which you can and should use to impress your friends at your next get-together at the pub.

Here at WordStream, we use this technique a great deal, and not only in introductions. To this day, I still remember that you’re 475 times more likely to survive a plane crash than you are to click on a banner ad – a fact I first included in a post for the WordStream blog back in 2014. Admittedly, I had to look up the publication date of that post, but I didn’t need to double-check the statistic itself because it’s just that memorable.

3 Introduction-The Classical Narrative

In May of 1940, as war raged across Europe, a squad of infantrymen belonging to the famous Manchester Regiment encroached upon the village of l’Epinette in northern France.

Both German and Allied forces sought to capture the strategically located village, and the Manchester Regiment came under heavy fire from the Nazi soldiers. The squadron eventually managed to pin down the Nazis with suppressing fire, and as the German soldiers took cover behind the low wall of a farmhouse, one of the Germans cried out. His commanding officer glanced over at the dying soldier, believing him to be shot, only to see a long, feathered arrow protruding from the man’s chest.

The Nazi soldier had been killed by the improbably yet fantastically named John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill, also known as “Mad Captain Jack” Churchill, the only soldier known to have carried a longbow – and an authentic claymore sword – into battle during World War II. Churchill held a deep appreciation of his Scottish heritage, and when asked why he carried such a large, antiquated weapon into battle, Churchill respectfully replied that, in his opinion, “any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed.”

As much as I’d love to tell you more about Mad Jack Churchill – and unbelievably, there’s plenty more to tell – I used this tale as an example of how employing a classical narrative in your introductions can be extraordinarily powerful. Granted, this particular example as I’ve presented it isn’t technically a true narrative; it has a beginning (the approach of the Manchester Regiment upon l’Epinette) and rising action (Churchill killing a Nazi soldier with a bow and arrow), but it lacks a real ending. Still, hopefully you see what I’m getting at with this example.

Why Is This Type of Introduction So Effective?

Simply put, traditional stories work so well as introductions because, as human beings, we’re hardwired to respond to stories. Far from mere entertainment, stories served humanity for millennia as cautionary tales and a means of survival, and even today, with all our technology and knowledge, a good story told well is still one of the most gripping forms of entertainment we know.

By admin

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