The first paragraph or so of an essay is usually the most important part of the whole essay to get "just right". Not only is it an opportunity to grab the reader's attention, but also a chance to set the agenda for the rest of the essay in terms of tone and content. Strictly speaking, there is no single "right" way to begin an essay — just as it's possible to write essays about countless subjects, so too is it possible to begin an essay in countless ways. However, most good beginnings to essays share certain qualities which, if taken into account, can greatly improve essay intros that may otherwise be lacking. See Step 1 below to get started.
1 Historical review: Some topics are better understood if a brief historical review of the topic is presented to lead into the discussion of the moment. Such topics might include "a biographical sketch of a war hero," "an upcoming execution of a convicted criminal," or "drugs and the younger generation." Obviously there are many, many more topics that could be introduced by reviewing the history of the topic before the writer gets down to the nitty gritty of his paper. It is important that the historical review be brief so that it does not take over the paper.