(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)
Most people like stories. And essays that start with a story are often the easiest to enter. Like these written by a couple of students:
“A few months ago, in the middle of the night, when I was staying at home, I heard my house’s gate was shaken violently by someone. There, I saw a woman who was carrying her baby, standing with panic and asking for help. …”
“The 40-degree Celsius weather was miserable when we were going on the trail to my grandmother’s house in Bucaramanga, Colombia. We had been traveling about seven hours and were in El Pescadero, which is the curviest and dizziest part of the trip. …
These dramatic introductions are not only enticing for the reader, but they are also fun for the students to write; it gives them a chance to use their imagination and creativity.
At the same time, a good dramatic intro isn’t just a story. There are three characteristics of especially good ones: