Where Do I Find Ideas for Attention Getters?

Your Memory, Experiences, and Conversations

Primarily, you’ll find attention getters from your own experiences.  Once you know your topic and the three points you want to cover in the essay, start asking yourself what you know about the topic and points that make it interesting.

  • Why did you pick that particular topic?
  • Is is something you remember from your childhood?
  • Is it something relevant to current events or news?
  • Is there a viral video or image on the internet that everyone seems to be commenting on or sharing?

If you’re in the classroom for an essay exam, your resources will be limited to the items allowed in the testing room.  You’ll have to rely mostly on what you already know or have heard.

Search Online for Your Topic

search for attention getters

IF, however, you’re writing an essay at home, or in a classroom with internet access allowed, do a Google search on your topic.  See what the top news stories are.  Look at the top videos and images.  See if any of those offer ideas for an attention getter.

Think about recent blog or social networking posts you’ve noticed that may relate to the topic.

Use those as attention getters.

You can even start the introductory paragraph with a quotation from a book, website, video, etc.  Just make sure you put it in quotation marks and mention where it orginally came from.

According to a recent blog post on Turning the Clock Back, “Pink Slime is basically beef by-products that have been treated with ammonia to kill harmful bacteria.”


“Pink Slime is basically beef by-products that have been treated with ammonia to kill harmful bacteria.”  Though the blogger from Turning the Clock Back also mentions that “pink slime” is considered fit for human consumption, most Americans are horrified that it’s included in many school lunches and fast food products.

Quotation marks and sourcing the quotation is critical to show that you aren’t plagiarizing the material or ripping it off.  You’re just quoting a tiny clip to prove your point in an example or get attention in the introduction.

NOTE:  If you’re typing the essay for class, ask your teacher/instructor about HOW your should source quotations.  Different writing styles require a Works Cited or Bibliography entry.  Also ask if you should include hyperlinks in the references or not.  It all depends on the style required by the assignment and teacher.

The Introductory Paragraph Walk Through Example

For the attention getter/introductory paragraph walk through lesson, we used references to Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and the “Pink Slime” images that are making Americans a bit nauseous about the food allowed in school lunches.

I personally knew about Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution because I’d seen an episode of the show.  I also knew about pink slime because it’s all over Facebook and the internet.

Even if I hadn’t known about a popular chef and TV show or the pink slime issue, it would have been very easy to find through a quick internet search.

For those who aren’t already familiar with Jamie Oliver, Food Revolution, or Pink Slime, here’s a YouTube video you could easily find online.

Additional Attention Getter Tips

Remember, too, that it’s best to use attention getters with which the reader is already familiar, but even if the reader/grader doesn’t know who or what the celebrity, TV show, book, website, etc. are, the fact that you are using them as a reference (or authority) lends some authority to your essay.

Refer to something concrete…something or someone who actually exists…something that actually happened…rather than a general statement like:

Parents are concerned about the quality of food provided in school lunches, so they’re packing healthy alternatives for their kids.

Yeah.  The statement is accurate, but it’s boring.

Put REAL people, places, things, events, etc. in your attention getters and examples.


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