A quote is a good way to start off a paper. However, it is important to find a relevant one first.
For example, for an English essay, a quote from a play or poem relevant to the topic can be used. Similarly, while writing on a political issue, a relevant quote made by a politician will work well. And how to cite a movie? Talk about anything in the world! There are tons of issues raised in cinematography.
If you fail to find a subject-related quote, a saying or a proverb may work well. In case you are not permitted to lift quotes directly, paraphrase them.
Though a paraphrase is not a translation from one language to another, it is a translation of a man's terms into another term within the same language. As the translation has to be accurate and illustrative, a paraphrased quote must aim at faithfully reproducing the original thought.
Read the quote slowly and carefully until you feel that you have firmly grasped its general meaning. If one meaning does not make it clear, read it again and yet again till you thoroughly understand it.
Next, note all difficult and uncommon words, remembering that you have to express the substance of the quote in your own way. Do not change words simply for the sake of changing them. But words that are archaic, obscure, technical, or uncommon should be replaced with suitable synonyms.
Quotes are used in essays to add liveliness and variety. Quotes break up large blocks of types in ordinary paragraphs; such long unbroken paragraphs can be boring. Quotes inject life!
Firstly, know what exactly is required. Read carefully the words in the topic and in the subject that is given.
For example: "Good manners are a waste of time in the modern world." Express the pros and cons of this statement. The subject is not 'Good Manners,' nor is it the listing of the pros of being well-mannered. The subject is whether you feel good manners have no utility or significance in the contemporary period. If yes — express your views or points supporting the quote. If not — put your arguments against it. Remember that everything has to be written regarding the 'Modern World.'
After you get a clear picture of the topic, express your thoughts, as next step gives you some time to think over the subject. If the topic is of a descriptive, narrative or imaginary category, envision the scenes, actual or imaginary. Ideas will come flowing in.
If the topic is of knowledge category — reflective, argumentative, expository, etc. — think of the topic from different angles. Psychological, political, personal, social, psychological, historical, economical, etc. Recollect what parents, teachers, friends, books and newspapers spoke on the subject. Ideas come. Maybe slow at the beginning, but then they rush on as fast as you can think.
Catch them as they pass through the mind. If you don't, you might miss or forget them when you need them. Jot them down on a piece of paper without worrying at this stage regarding their relevance and utility.
After you have collected sufficient material for the paper, read over the noted points and quotes and select all those that are appropriate and helpful to develop the subject. This gives you an idea of how the writing is going to take shape.
Organize the ideas, quotes, and points in logical order, so that the whole mass of ideas becomes a meaningful whole.
Now sketch out the quotes by dividing them into main heads and sub-heads, marking out the portions for introduction, body, and conclusion of the essay.
Explain the quotes in a correct, bright, and beautiful manner.
If the essay is mostly imaginative and not based on the writer's real experience, it would be necessary to plan out a plot for it. Begin with a certain setting; induct quotes in the middle or in the body. The essence of the imaginative composition is that the writer uses some quotes in it. This helps to hold the readers' attention and interest right until the end of the essay.