Q – QUESTION Q – QUOTATION A – ANECDOTE S – STATEMENT Ask a provocative question to capture your reader’s interest. “Quote” a popular phrase or proverb. A brief, three to five sentence story can be an amazing opening. Get your reader’s attention with a provocative statement. There are four main ways:
QUESTION • For example, in an essay about Muhammad’s life, one could start off by writing: ex.) Have you ever considered how much longer the Dark Ages would have continued in Europe, if superior Muslim learning and technology was not brought back from the Crusades?
QUOTATION • In an essay about proving whether Muhammad was a peaceful spiritual leader or a bloodthirsty political tyrant, one could write: ex.) When writing about popular figures in history, like Muhammad, it is important to remember what Elbert Hubbard once said: “Truth is stronger than fiction.”
ANECDOTE • A short and to-the-point story is an interesting way to begin an essay about the tragedy of September Eleventh, 2001: ex.) I’ll never forget that bright blue morning, waking up to the sound of cries and sobs as the first sun’s rays poured through my bedroom window. Usually, mom only made those sounds after spotting a rat or mouse in the kitchen. But as I curiously rushed downstairs, I found to my horrible surprise that there was no rat. Instead, live news-footage of a New York city tower on fire, complete with circling helicopters and grave newscasters, poured non-stop from our television. It was going to be the beginning of one of the strangest days of my life.
When choosing between different kinds of statements, think “F - U - S - E”: F – FACTUAL U – UNUSUAL S – STRONG E – EXAGGERATED STATEMENT
Factual Statements • Sometimes, a fact or statistic will add interest to your Introduction Paragraph: ex.) Those of you who enjoy meat and beer might find it difficult to live life as a Muslim. Among the food prohibited by Allah are pork, blood, and alcohol!
Unusual Statements • Giving weird facts or details to “surprise” the reader may fascinate them enough to keep reading on… ex.) Most kids in Santa Ana will go their whole life without meeting a student named “Muhammad” in their classrooms. But actually, the most popular first name in the world is Muhammad!
Strong Statements • These are bold statements that come across like a “PUNCH–IN–THE–FACE!”: ex.) After Muslim terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center on nine-eleven, some angry Americans blamed the teachings of Muhammad, not just Osama Bin Laden, for the evil act.
Exaggerated Statements • These statements are totally “over-the-top,” and are written to provoke the reader into feeling a certain way. ex.) In 750 AD, the whole world watched in amazement as a lonely prophet from the desert, with followers and a new “God,” swept across the Middle-East to replace Rome with a great empire of its own: Islam.