First impressions of the reader are every important. If you can capture his attention by the first few sentences., you can be sure he’ll stay with you. It’s like a handshake – a firm clasp will make you trust the person and emphathise, a limp shake will make you decide that he’s no hot favourite.
How does one begin well? The effort to do so must be smooth and flawless so that the reader is woven into a web of interest unobtrusively. The title is the main attraction. You must choose one which will arouse the curiosity of a potential reader. Suppose your article is about flowers that can be made to say fresh through summer, .try “Springtime try punning too for effect – if it’s an article on children born out of wedlock you could call it. “Thus Far And No Father….” If you are giving tips on caring for your face you should say, “Facing A Problem?” So, pay attention to the title.
Then comes the opening paragraph. Don’t ramble. If your theme is about mending broken marriages, don’t devote your opening para to the history of the institution of marriage. Get straight to the point. That doesn’t mean you write: “I am now going to tell you how to mend broken marriages…”!! Instead begin with a case study. Introduce the human factor—“It was the end for Rumi & Raja—Twelve years of togetherness was wiped out by a single stroke of the pen-what no man could put asunder - a mere telephone call had done…” The reader is sufficiently interested because he knows that Rumi & Raja are an estranged couple whose 12 years of married bliss is being threatened by a letter and a phone call. The curiosity is aroused in his wanting to know whose letter and whose phone call. Gradually, you reveal all. So, the opening para is the appetizer for the delicacies to come.
Once you begin, you will be tempted to wander into trivial details which you think have a bearing on the theme. Let them come later – after you have the reader glued to your piece. Initially, stick to the points having a direct bearing on your theme.
You can open your piece in different ways e.g. be dramatic: “The 150-year-old Chinese vase fell and broke into pieces…” (this could be an article on the care of antiques). Be shocking – “Every minute, three women are raped in America…” (this could be an article on safety precautions to be taken by women). Be sentimental. “The rose petal, pressed between the pages, had the fragrance of a nostalgic past…” (this could be an article on the loneliness of the aged). Be factual: “It takes two minutes for blood to be pumped from…” (this can be an article on traffic movement with comparisons drawn from the flow of blood in the arteries and veins).
Try different openings but make sure it suits the theme and your ‘market’ which is the publication you are writing for.