What is the best way to capture my readers in my introduction?Essay analyzes a character.

Expert Answers
clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have taught and read a lot of essays.  I have to be honest.  Many teachers over-emphasize the importance of the "hook" in the introduction.

My best advice, to you and to all my students, is to work on and excel at function over form in the analytical essay introduction.  It is a debatable topic, certainly, but I argue that if the essay is well-written, the introduction is the least important paragraph, and the first sentence of the introduction, the least important sentence.

Before you even worry about grabbing your audience's attention (through an introductory "hook") make sure your thesis statement and presentation of ideas (the organization of your essay) are clear, concise, and establish an interesting argument.  If the topic of your essay is interesting, you will not have to rely on a "catchy" opening sentence.  Instead, let your argument and presentation throughout the essay speak for itself.

Once you have written, edited, and re-written your essay, if your argument and presentation are above average and you are happy with the result, you can do almost anything with your opening sentence.  In an Alice Walker essay, it would not be difficult to open with a quote by the author (or one of her published peers or supporters), perhaps from an interview or another work, that speaks to the same topic as your essay.  You could also introduce the author and the title of the work you are analyzing simply and quickly, ensuring the audience gets right into the meat of the essay immediately.  One final idea is to introduce the character or character traits on which the essay focuses, perhaps by using a descriptive sentence utilizing imagery.

If you are in high school or college, I caution you strictly against opening your essay with a question.  These are often cliche and redundant, and tend to lower the level of the audience's first impression.  The link below offers other ideas that might spark something both creative and functional for you.  Good luck.