Writing With NO Introduction – Easier, Faster, Better

Tell me, do you like writing lengthy introductions for your posts/articles? Scratch that, like is not the most appropriate word. Here’s a better question: Do you tend to write lengthy introductions for your posts?

I know I did. Not any more, though. Currently, I try to write no introductions for my articles at all, and I advise you to do the same.

Disclaimer. I’m by no means an expert on proper methods of writing, but I do have some experiments under my belt. This advice is based on one of those experiments. The technique has turned out to work just fine for me a number of other people I’ve shared it with.

Introductions are just leftover school stuff

Back in school, our teachers forced us to always start our essays with some form of an introduction. You know, the place where you were supposed to explain what you’re going to explain … a kind of meta content, if you will.

And back then, we usually complied without ever questioning anything. The sole reason being that: (1) the teacher had the power to get us into trouble, (2) the essays needed to be a precise number of pages, so the lengthier the introduction, the less we had to write in the remaining part of the essay.

Now, however, things are different, and before I tell you why you don’t need introductions any more, let’s focus on these differences.

School vs real life

Back in school, the only person reading your work was the teacher. They were paid to do so, and they didn’t enjoy it - at least most of the time.

Now, since you’re a freelance writer or a blogger, no one will ever force anyone to read your content. Your readers have to make a conscious decision to read it on their own. And for that to happen you need to provide one of two things: education and/or entertainment. (Where, surprisingly, the latter is more important.)

This is exactly where introductions simply don’t work. They don’t provide any education, nor are entertaining. At least when you take the traditional approach to it.

Let me give you an example of a crappy introduction to make it more clear.

Let’s say that the post I’m writing is titled “How to Use SEO the Smart Way.”

Here’s the introduction:

SEO is the practice of optimizing your site to meet the modern search engines’ standards, and to reach high spots in the search engine rankings. This makes it one of the most important factors for every site’s success. Without SEO, you will find it extremely hard to attract new visitors and convert them into regulars.

It might work in school, but in the real world it’s extremely boring and no one will actually read it. People will automatically skip to where the real content starts. For the example above it would be the actual advice on how to use SEO the smart way.

New habits

The internet isn’t that new, it’s been around for a number of years and people have already learned how to consume information online. Information overload these days is so big that one cannot physically consume everything they’d want to.

The situation calls for some simplifying. That’s why over the years people have learned that hardly anything informative can be found in most introductions, so they’ve decided to skip them and start reading from two or three paragraphs in.

This is just the way the internet works these days. I’m sorry to break this to you.

And if you don’t believe me then just take a look at your own habits. For instance, when was the last time you read an introduction to a classic list post, like “X Best iPad Apps for {something}?” You probably never do it. Instead, you just go straight to the main content.

So, again, as a reader and a writer I urge you to do what I always try to do whenever it’s possible: Skip the introduction altogether. It’s pointless. And here’s why.

The benefits of making your articles introduction-free

(1) First of all, it makes your content shorter. Number of words should never be a goal for a writer. You should always aim to provide maximum information in minimum words. Even the shortest introductions will take up to 50 words.

(2) You make your content less boring right from the get-go.

(3) You’re making the purpose of your article way clearer. Have you ever noticed that many introductions don’t actually tell a lot about the exact topic the article is going to be about? I mean, they describe the big picture, but rarely share exactly what the reader can expect. No introduction – no problem.

(4) You’re making your content more like a real-life conversation. This is the kicker. Do you use introductions when talking to friends about anything? No, you simply say what you have to say, and you force them to engage and figure the basic stuff out.

(5) It doesn’t insult the reader’s intelligence. I don’t know about you, but some people tend to feel offended when an introduction points out some ground-basic facts regarding a given topic for no apparent reason (like I did in the SEO example above). It’s something along the lines of: “I know this! Why are you wasting my time telling me this!”

Okay, I guess that’s enough of benefits. Let’s talk about the how-to.

How to write without introductions

I have to be honest that the idea is not my own. I got it from somewhere. Unfortunately, I don’t remember what the original source is.

The tutorial is so simple that it’s actually surprising. Here it is:

When you are done writing your article, go ahead and erase the first paragraph (or two). Just like that, delete it completely.

Now, read the first 4-5 paragraphs out loud and see if it doesn’t sound better. In most cases, it will.

If you don’t believe me then just go to one of your articles and try to do it as an experiment.

That’s it. I’m not any good at summaries either, so let me just end this post with a question: Do you think that my approach can work for your writing? If not, why?

Karol K. (@carlosinho) is a freelance blogger and writer. He runs a website called newInternetOrder and provides various online business advice. He focuses on tools (like Market Samurai), methods, and simple tricks that give you a head start.

About the Author

  • http://www.makealivingwriting.com Carol Tice | Make a Living Writing

    Hi Karol –

    Great post. In journalism we call these low-value introductions a “throat-clearing” or windup lede. If you can just hack them off and the piece loses nothing, you know you should chop it!

  • http://snitchim.com Eric

    Hey Karol,

    Nice non intro post. But I would be interested to hear the pros or cons for having an intro for SEO purpose? Though if your writing for your audience maybe there is no need for SEO. I would be interested to hear your thoughts Karol.

    Thanks

    • http://www.christinawalker.net Christina Walker

      Eric,
      The kind of intros Karol talks about don’t have intrinsic SEO value; they just lead you into the content. As long as you use your keyword near the beginning (which Google reads as an “intro”) and around the middle and end, you should be fine regarding SEO.

  • http://seekdefo.com/win-100-cash-and-more-prizes-at-nopassiveincome-blogging-contest/ George

    I have done some 63 posts on my site with a majority of them having introductions

  • http://paulgallimore.net Paul Gallimore

    Writing without introductions, or one-liners was pretty much invented by the poineers of copywriting.

    Joe Sugarman was a great exponent; he called the art of drawing readers into a piece by teasing first, second and third sentences – usually in separate paragraphs – his slippery slide.

    The idea was taken up by journalists a little later to allow people to get into their articles a small piece at a time.

    I didn’t know they called it throat clearing, though.

  • http://blogforniches.com Edison

    Great post indeed. I don’t like to go around the bush when writing something. I prefer straight to the point but then always want to meet the recommended google pereferred min 500 words. But your article today make me happy to write with my own style. Thanks.

  • http://www.carnivalgoa.com/casino/ Sam@Goa Casinos

    Good things to know and start with new style in new year for take good result.

  • http://capturedbloggingtips.com Khaja moin

    I never dare to write a post without intro, well when I see it`s worked for you. Guess it works for me too!

    Anyway, recently I decided not to blindly follow everything I read, so experiment by myself. :)

    And will comment here.

    ~@khajamoin1

  • http://www.writeyourrevolution.com Sarah Russell

    Interesting article, but I’m not sure that I agree 100%. Sure, the type of exposition introduction you describe is pretty bland and doesn’t provide much value to your readers.

    But what about interesting introductions that capture attention and encourage people to read your article? I know that when I’m reading internet articles, the introduction tells me a lot about whether I’ll find the rest of the content interesting or whether I’ll like the author’s style. Jumping straight into the content without any kind of prep might wind up confusing some readers or turning them off entirely.

    Just my thoughts, though :)

  • http://www.jatinsharma.in Anurag

    I always write a intro for my posts, the length of the introduction depends upon the topic I am writing.

    Will, try to ignore intro for one of my next post.

  • http://www.myarrazi.com/ Arrazi

    Thank you sir. I’m totally agree with you. In blog, we don’t need to introduction. just, straight to the point.

    I like your idea. Please, keep it up!

  • http://www.buskinghq.com Ben

    I like to vary things up a little, sometimes a long intro, sometimes short and sometimes just diving straight in, it is easier to make your writing flow with an intro a lot of the time I find..

  • http://www.leadingedgeadvocate.com Lea

    I’ve scaled back on introductions myself. I noticed myself that when I’m reading an article I skim thru or skip that part complete to get to the meat of the content.

  • http://bloggerspeaks.com/ Sai Krishna

    Well, I never dare to write posts without any introduction. Will try it out now. If it goes well no problem, Otherwise maybe my bounce rate will hike like petrol prices.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/best-foldable-headphones Betrand

    This to me is another nice approach to writing articles. What I don’t do away in articles I write is an Introduction. I do it all the time. But seriously after reading this post I do agree intros can be ignored sometimes not always. I will try Karol’s method out one day.

  • http://www.theinternetbuzzer.com Ravi @ Technology Blog

    Maybe you are right about not writing the introduction but I guess its the best way to attract readers and to engage them with reading further.

  • http://www.cateringmelbourne.net/ Becca

    With or without introduction it is still depends on the flow of the article/story. Readers still divided if they like it with or without introduction. Love the positive tone of the article! Nicely done.

  • Greg

    Surprisingly true advice. I do not write copy or articles, but can be applied even for research papers with some salt.

  • http://www.webadvices.com Plaban Manna

    I always write around 100 word introduction. I’ve never tried writing articles without it. Now I’ll write some new articles without introduction to know readers reaction.

  • http://www.betamotivation.com Kola

    great thoughts, Karol. i suppose the final word would be determined by the overall strategy for the site. some people depend more on word of mouth and shareability than SEO. in those instances, i can see how a nice relevant intro (regardless of length) may be beneficial

  • http://internetmacmarketing.com/blog Tim

    Taking it even further, the first two sentences could have been left off this article. :-)