4. That vital opening sentence

"The beginning is the most important part of the work". Plato

"Writing a nonfiction story is like cracking a safe. It seems impossible at the beginning, but once you're in, you're in". Rich Cohen

This is about more than the introduction to your essay: this is about how you begin each paragraph to gain maximum effect. 

If you’ve planned your essay carefully, you’ll know what your main points are. These points should be made clearly at the start of the paragraph in which you’ll be exploring and developing this particular idea. Try reading out each opening sentence to a friend or relative who is not an expert: do they understand what you’ve written? 

Beginning each paragraph with a clear, simple sentence which tells the reader what you are writing about has the added advantage that if you wander off the point a little, you’ve still made your point and will get credit. If you then relate the point back to the question, (see step 3), you’ve started and finished with an impact.

Academics call this foregrounding. You can try developing this idea further by making the first word of each sentence a key word. For example, “Revolution was crucial to….” This is known as nominalisation. More of that in a later post.

TOP TIP: Read aloud your opening sentence, even if you haven’t got an audience: you should be able to ‘hear’ if your sentence works.