Think of a good movie. Chances are, the screenwriter used “foreshadowing” to get you hooked: showing you stuff that happens later in the movie’s timeline early on to pique your interest. As an essay writer, you can use this SAME technique in your introduction to hook your own audience, making your essay just as memorable as a blockbuster film.
The key to a good essay is telling a compelling story; you can’t change the content of your life, but you CAN change how it’s presented. Hinting at but not quite revealing your story’s conclusion early on means your audience will read with an ACTIVE mind – linking the details of your essay to your earlier content. This means your reader will pay more attention and REMEMBER your essay.
So, how do you foreshadow? Never fear, here’s a three-step guide to hooking your audience with a common essay topic (leadership) as the content:
1. Start near the end.
If our writer wants to tell us the story of how he saved his company from a lawsuit, he might start the scene in court before the verdict is announced. By throwing us into the middle of the action and showing us how he felt in a dramatic moment, his essay kicks off from the get-go, instantly hooking the reader.
Something like this:
The jury filled into the courtroom. My partner and I were nervous but confident – after all we’d worked for months to prove that the Mantena lawsuit was an unjustified attack on our reputations. Still, everything was on the line here…
2. Fill in the blanks.
Use your essay’s body to “fill in the blanks” in regards to material you mentioned in your introduction. For our example, we need to know where the writer worked, why his company was being sued, what they did to prepare for the suit and how they got to the courtroom.
3. Come full circle.
End your story by revealing what happened AFTER your introduction. This revelation is the payoff to your foreshadowing and should answer any remaining questions your reader might have. For our example, we need to know who won the case, how the writer felt, what lessons he learned and how this affected the company’s future direction. Ideally, this conclusion should come with an unexpected “twist”, but even an expected outcome can be interesting with enough details – the trick is to set up the right questions early on and provide the right answers at the end.
- Start near the end.
- Fill in the blanks.
- Come full circle.
Check out the other articles in this series:
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #18: Avoiding Generalities
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #17: Sentence Breakdown: A Meaningful Introduction
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #16: Getting Your Message Across
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #15: Being Brief Vs. Being Detailed
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #14: Building a Better Achievement
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #13: Avoiding “Application Fatigue”
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #12: Writing On A Deadline
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #11: Researching Your Dream School
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #10: Sentence Breakdown: Career Transition
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #9: A Guide to Fantastic Essay Conclusions
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #8: Simplify Your Writing By Avoiding Buzzwords
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #7: “Your School Is Ideal Because…”
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #6: Breaking Down Technical Jargon
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #5: Getting Specific With Goals
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #4: Writing About Sensitive Topics
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #3: Quantifying Success
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #2: Making Your Personal Qualities POP!
The MBA Essay Writing Guide – #1: Building a Catchy Intro