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How to Write an Introduction that People Don’t Skip

Introductions drag; they are dry; they are officious and insincere. But it doesn’t have to be this way if you consider these five strategies:

1. Talk to us in the voice of the book. Don’t adopt a more serious or distant tone that isn’t engaging or faithful to what readers will hear when they progress to Chapter One.

2. Tell us something new. The academic-style synopsis which reels off what each chapter in the upcoming book will contain smells like school. Plus, it won’t have the life of the chapters to come: the thought-provoking idea, the sensual details. So it’s truly worse than nothing.

3. Give us connections that we might not get elsewhere. An Introduction is by definition not any particular chapter, but rather than just treading water until we get to the good stuff, afford us a perspective we can only embrace by surveying the entire landscape at once.

4. Keep it brief. An introduction between two people at a party gets to the heart of what might be interesting to each person present — it isn’t a ten minute soliloquy that is all about the speaker. Introduce your reader to your book and then excuse yourself to see what kind of scotch they’re serving.

5. Be direct. Addressing the reader intimately might not be your style, but you are basically asking them to read your book. Even if you want to convince them based solely on the book’s own merits, you still have to connect with the reader personally on the level of motivation or emotion.

Filed under: Mini-Blog

Comment (1)

  1. Susan Norseth says:

    These comments were amazing. Thanks!

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