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Writing Introduction Paragraphs Help (page 2)

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Updated on Sep 7, 2011

Ways to Grab Your Reader's Attention

A good hook contains an element of creativity and an awareness of the reader's needs. It doesn't simply announce the subject or thesis, or make generalizations that sound clichéd. Phrases such as one step at a time; no news is good news; have a nice day; when life gives you lemons, make lemonade; and no guts, no glory are so overused they have little or no meaning.

The following seven introductory hook strategies offer specific ways to get into your subject and thesis that arouse a reader's attention, making your introduction an invitation to read on. These strategies are:

  1. a quotation
  2. a question
  3. a surprising statement or fact
  4. an imaginary situation or scenario
  5. an anecdote
  6. interesting background information
  7. a new twist on a familiar phrase

A Quotation

Start with a quote from a text, a film, a subject-matter expert, or even a friend or relative if he or she said something relevant to the topic and of interest to your reader.

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others," said Napoleon in George Orwell's classic novel Animal Farm. Uncle Sam might say something similar: "All people must pay taxes, but some must pay more taxes than others." Our current federal income tax system treats taxpayers unfairly and requires and monumental budget to administer and maintain. A flat tax, which would treat all taxpayers equally and dramatically reduce tax compliance cost, is the answer.

A Question

Open up with a question to get your readers thinking. Of course, the question (and its answer) should be relevant to your thesis.

What's in a name? Nothing—and everything. It is, after all, just a name, one tiny piece of the puzzle that makes up a person. But when someone has a nickname like "Dumbo," a name can be the major force in shaping one's sense of self. That's how it was for me.

A Surprising Statement or Fact

This type of hook provides "shock value" for the reader.

If you don't believe our current tax law is ridiculously out of control, consider this: Our total tax law consists of 101,295 pages and 7.05 million words. That means our tax law has almost 100 times more pages and ten times as many words and the Bible. Bloated? You bet. But it doesn't have to be. The government would collect equal or greater tax revenue and save millions of dollars in compliance costs by instituting a flat tax system.

An Imaginary Situation or Scenario

Hook your readers with your imagination. You might ask them to place themselves in the scene, or you can let them simply witness it.

You've been drifting at sea for days with no food and no water. You have two companions. Suddenly, a half-empty bottle of water floats by. You fight over the bottle, ready to kill the others if you have to for that water. What has happened? What are you—human or animal? It is a question that H.G.Wells raises over and over in The Island of Dr.Moreau. His answer? Like it or not, we're both.

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