- A good introductory paragraph 1. gets your reader’s attention, 2. introduces your topic, and 3. presents your stance on the topic (thesis).
Right after your title is the introductory paragraph. Like an appetizer for a meal, the introductory paragraph sets up the reader’s palate and gives him a foretaste of what is to come. You want start your paper on a positive note by putting forth the best writing possible.
Like writing the title, you can wait to write your introductory paragraph until you are done with the body of the paper. Some people prefer to do it this way since they want to know exactly where their paper goes before they make an introduction to it. When you write your introductory paragraph is a matter of personal preference.
Your introductory paragraph needs to accomplish three main things: it must 1. grip your reader, 2. introduce your topic, and 3. present your stance on the topic (in the form of your thesis statement). If you’re writing a large academic paper, you’ll also want to contextualize your paper’s claim by discussing points other writers have made on the topic.
There are a variety of ways this can be achieved. Some writers find it useful to put a quote at the beginning of the introductory paragraph. This is often an effective way of getting the attention of your reader:
“Thomas Jefferson’s statement in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” seems contrary to the way he actually lived his life, bringing into question the difference between the man’s public and private lives…”
Hmm. Interesting…Tell me more. This introduction has set off the paper with an interesting quote and makes the reader want to continue reading. How has Jefferson’s public life differed from his private life? Notice how this introduction also helps frame the paper. Now the reader expects to learn about the duality of Thomas Jefferson’s life.
Another common method of opening a paper is to provide a startling statistic or fact. This approach is most useful in essays that relate to current issues, rather than English or scientific essays.
“The fact that one in every five teenagers between the ages of thirteen and fifteen smokes calls into question the efficacy of laws prohibiting advertising cigarettes to children…”
The reader is given an interesting statistic to chew on (the fact that so many children smoke) while you set up your paper. Now your reader is expecting to read an essay on cigarette advertising laws.
When writing English papers, introducing your topic includes introducing your author and the aspect of the text that you’ll be analyzing.
“Love is a widely felt emotion. In The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas uses the universality of love to develop a connection with his reader…”
Here, the reader is introduced to the piece of text that will be analyzed, the author, and the essay topic. Nice.
The previous sample introduction contains a general sentence at the beginning that bring up a very broad topic: love. From there, the introductory paragraph whittles down to something more specific:
how Dumas uses love in his novel to develop a connection with the reader. You’d expect this paragraph to march right on down to the thesis statement,
which belongs at the end of the introductory paragraph. Good introductory paragraphs often have this ‘funnel’ sort of format–going from something broad (such as love) to something more specific until the thesis is presented.
Try to avoid the some of the more hackneyed openers:
- “Have you ever wondered why…”
- “Webster’s dictionary defines…”
- “X is a very important issue facing America today…”
Essays in response to quotations are pretty common. This is a special way of presenting a topic to students that calls for their reaction and comments. Use the following hints while writing your paper.
Read the quote, and focus on the immediate impression it makes on you. Think about the context in which you were given this assignment. It might concern your current unit, the topic you discussed in class, or the book you’ve read recently. Decide whether you agree or disagree with the phrase, and what associations it brings up.
Sometimes it’s very difficult to grasp the meaning of a saying. Read it over and over and determine the keyword. It should be the most important word that provides the foundation on which you write your essay.
By knowing the purpose of your task, you’ll have a clear understanding of what to write about. Remember that this type of writing is not just about giving your opinion. The underlying thing is having a deep background knowledge on the topic, and the ability to match it with the quotation. Always try to figure out why you were suggested this particular fragment and what you are expected to explain.
As soon as you read your task and get the idea of how it corresponds to the general topic you’re currently discussing with your teacher, jot down everything that comes to your mind. You should analyze why the author said what they did, what side they took, or what pushed them to say so. Then decide whether you support them or completely disapprove of their words. Write non-stop for about 5–10 minutes, and after that, reread your notes, highlighting the most relevant comments.
Usually you have to give persuasive arguments to support your ideas, so make sure you are confident about your position. Otherwise, you will sound unconvincing.
Your first sentence should state the quote and the author. Also note that, “So many men, so many minds”; that’s why this phrase can be interpreted differently. Introduce what it means to you. Choose three main points that will clarify the keyword and write them in your thesis statement.
Scrutinize each of the main points in the body paragraphs: one point for each paragraph. Start your concluding part with the phrase “In conclusion”, and write how the main word is understood by the author and by you. Then paraphrase your thesis statement.