The introduction to any good descriptive essay must capture the reader’s attention immediately. You need to think about the topic and organization of your essay very carefully. You want to create a vivid image of whatever it is you are discussing through detailed descriptions, ideally addressing each of the five senses. In this way, the reader feels as though he is a part of the story, a connection that will make your descriptive essay more enjoyable. The introduction must briefly touch upon all of this, without going too far into detail. Therefore, it might be best to wait until you’ve written the rest of the essay before writing this section. Here are five ingredients of a good descriptive essay introduction:
- It has a great “hook” statement
- It provides some background
- It introduces the central theme
- It gradually zooms in the lens
- It has clear and concise thesis
First of all, you need to catch the reader’s attention right from the start. Your opening sentence needs a “hook” – some captivating statement that compels the reader to keep going. It can be a quotation, a question, or some other element that immediately grips the reader. Make sure the hook is related to the rest of the essay, however. As a hook that is used inappropriately can annoy your reader.
An important element in your introduction is including some background information. Don’t just put in filler; the background should be details that are important to understanding your story but aren’t the central focus. Let’s say, for instance, you’re writing a descriptive essay about a relative getting married. You would provide two or three sentences describing where each of the partners originates from to set up a story about an event at the wedding.
Your descriptive essay should have a central theme running through it. You should introduce this theme in the first paragraph to start the reader off with the right mindset. If you are unsure about your theme you may want to ask someone to first read your body paragraphs and provide you with their impressions. This will give you a clear view of what your theme is.
Throughout the introduction you should try to draw the reader closer to the picture you are describing by using a technique referred to as “zooming the lens.” Imagine you were looking through a telescope at the night sky. The widest lens will show you the whole night sky. Zoom in closer and you may now only focus on a dozen or so stars. Zoom in even closer and focus on a single star. Apply this technique in your introduction, gradually moving from the broad to the narrow.
The last sentence of the introduction should be your thesis statement, which tells the reader exactly the main focus of the rest of the essay. It should present a clear side or opinion on the descriptive topic. If, for instance, you are writing about losing a pet, you may state how the loss encouraged you to pursue a veterinary field.