academic writing knowhow – setting the scene


That first sentence. Your first thought. An opening gambit. Setting the scene. Attracting the reader. Aaargh. Starting a new piece of writing can be daunting. It’s no wonder that so many writers worry about how to begin.

But academic writers are comparatively lucky when it comes to starting off. Unlike fiction writers who must pull a brilliant beginning from the void, academic writers have something to fall back on. An established genre which they can use, if they wish.

What is this “established genre” I hear you ask? Well. Many academic texts begin with some contextual scene-setting. Papers, books, proposals often start with context. Then, once the scene is set, the writer goes on to say exactly what this particular text will be about.

Contextual scene setting can be comparatively slight in word terms, but a few sentences can do a lot of work. Scene-setting accomplishes five key things.

  1. It…

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