Attention Getters

Attention getters are a very important part of the essay, but many young writers overlook this excellent strategy. Think about the first 5 or 10 minutes of a movie. The filmaker tries to hook the audience by introducing the characters, jumping right into the action, or providing some background. If the movie started with just a scene that showed simple dialogue between two characters, the audience may not be as interested in or care about what happens. Try some of these types of attention getters to help your essay hook the reader.

Historical Review - background information provided about information that may be covered. This is a great way to make sure that the reader understands where you are coming from in your essay. For an expository essay this may be some background on the topic being described. For a persuasive essay this may be a review of both arguments to an issue or how the issue has developed over time (i.e. discussing Roe v. Wade when writing about abortion).

Example: There is a nursing shortage. Nurses are leaving the field for a variety of reasons, increasing the strain on
                the nursing workforce. Aging baby boomers will be placing a greater strain on the healthcare
                system, and nurses in particular. The lack of nurses is negatively affecting patient care. Fewer
                people are choosing to enter the nursing field. The world is facing a major nursing shortage; this
                problem is negatively affecting the quality of healthcare for everyone.

Anecdote - a short, mini story. Anecdotes are a great way to help the reader make a personal connection to your topic. It also allows the reader to see real-life implications of your topic. What do you have an easier time imagining and connecting with; a newspaper article or a children's tale? Chances are you answered the tale. Apply your topic to a situation written about in a mini story, or anecdote.

Example: There was little talk, only the sound of cleats on the locker room floor as the
               players gathered around the list the freshman baseball coach had taped to the window of
               his office. As players spied their names on the list, the silence disappeared. They
               whooped, exchanged high fives, and laughed as they wrestled in the aisles between
               lockers. But some didn’t laugh or shout, didn’t meet the eyes of the other boys. They
               couldn’t. Their names weren’t on the list. They were cut.

Surprising Statement - 97% of students who write attention getters get As on their essays. Interested in using them now? You should be! I like to call this the "punch in the face." It is a statement or fact that may be jarring or surprising; it is something that should make the reader say, "Whoa!" What this does is create curiosity about your topic, which in turn helps your reader read closely and with purpose.

Example: You may be dead tomorrow. That is the consensus of the American Lung
               Association, who yesterday launched a new public awareness campaign to stop smoking.

Famous Person - just like testimonials used in advertising. This links a famous person to your topic. Because people like celebrities and (for some reason) trust them, it helps to get your readers interested in what you have to say. Think about the difference between me teaching an English lesson and Lil Wayne teaching the same lesson. Chances are you would pay mroe attention to Lil Wayne, even if you don't like him. This doesn't have to be a direct quote; sometimes just mentioning a famous person helps grab your reader's interest.

Example: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Those were the wise
                words of Gandhi, a man who lead by example.