Introductions and Conclusions are two places I often find need improvment in a manuscript. This post will be about Introductions and my next post will be about Conclusions.
I’ll give you some guidelines for writing an Introduction, and these can work for devotion writing, blog posts, and chapters in nonfiction God-help (prescriptive) books.
The introductory paragraph (or initial several paragraphs) needs to accomplish two things:
- Introduce your topic
- Entice your reader to keep reading
Because you have very little time to capture your reader’s interest, begin the Introduction with a powerful hook —a statement that “hooks” your reader into continuing to read your devotion.
My all-time favorite hook?
A personal story.
Let’s look at an example of a personal story in the Introduction:
5 a.m. Wide awake. Thoughts racing and whirling. Chest tight with anxiety.
My mom recently suffered a stroke, and my concern about her weighs heavily, causing my thoughts to spin. How long will Mom need to be in a rehab facility? How’s my dad holding up? Who will watch the boys when my husband’s traveling for work and I need to be away to help my parents? We are in a situation we’ve never been in before, and we’re finding that there are so many questions we can’t answer.
This is a short Introduction I used for a devotion. If you are introducing a chapter, you can expand your story into several paragraphs.
Why is opening with a personal story so effective?
First, neuroscientists have found that when we hear a story, our brains release oxytocin, a chemical that helps people feel empathetic and connected to others. This is the same chemical that is released with hugging and positive social interactions. So our body’s neurochemicals will be working for us to “hook” our reader.
Secondly, we can follow the example of Jesus. Think about how many times Jesus used a story to introduce principles.
Finally, a personal story invites our readers into our lives, showing them we’re just like them, learning and growing. My Introduction serves to make me real and relatable. I’m a woman facing a challenging situation, just like my readers have faced hard situations.
Your reader is presented with countless opportunities to read something. If she’s on social media at all, that alone provides competing posts to read. If I can hook her with a personal story and make her feel a connection, I’m more likely to engage her enough to keep her reading.
Thank you for being here!
To learn more about other hooks, you can purchase my How to Write a Devotion: Workbook with Steps to Create a Blog and Devotional Blog Post.
Here’s what one writer said about my workbook: