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Different Ways to Start an Exemplification Essay

by Sampson Quain, Demand Media

    Among the various essay types, an exemplification essay is the most straightforward because it requires you to choose a topic and use examples to explain the topic, defend an argument or make a point about a subject. The key to writing an effective exemplification essay is to use illustrative examples that clarify your ideas. There are several ways to start an exemplification essay to grab a reader's attention.

    Anecdote

    An anecdote is a brief story that ties into the subject of your essay, even if it's not apparent for a few sentences. For example, if your essay is about the appeal of fantasy football, you can start by writing, "The first time Mike Smith remembers doing it, he was 18, and it took two grueling hours to get through it. The next time, it only took an hour because he was better at it, as are millions of fantasy football fans who have learned through trial and error how to draft their teams." Anecdotes help personalize a topic for a reader, and make it relateable.

    Famous Quote

    Starting your essay with a famous quote can establish authority and is an effective way to summarize the goal of your paper. But you must select a quote that matches the ideas you will explore in the essay, so that you can build off the introduction when you write your thesis statement. For example, in an exemplification essay on how to define success, you could start with a Booker T. Washington quote, "Success is not to be measured by the position that one has reached in life, but the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed." This summarizes the method you will use to explain the definition of success and how it should be measured.

    Questions

    Another effective way to start an exemplification essay is to pose a question or a series of questions that you will answer in the body of the essay. This method engages a reader by forcing them to think about the questions you ask. In an essay that tackles the correlation between drug dealing and unemployment, for example, you could begin by writing, "Is it reasonable to expect a 19-year old male with limited education, lack of job skills and employment prospects to resist the lure of crime for easy money?"

    Startling Statistic

    A startling or surprising statistic is a quick and easy way to grab a reader's attention and keep him glued to the page. The most effective way is to use exact figures and to reveal information that isn't well-known to the general public. For example, if you are writing an essay about the dangers of text-messaging while driving, you could start with, " A recent study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute estimates that text-messaging takes attention away from the road for 4.6 seconds, the same amount of time required for a car to travel across a football field at 55 miles per hour."

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    About the Author

    Sampson Quain is a screenwriter and filmmaker who began writing in 1996. He has sold feature and television scripts to a variety of studios and networks including Columbia, HBO, NBC, Paramount and Lionsgate. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting from the University of Southern California.

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