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Writing Introduction Paragraphs Help (page 3)

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Updated on Sep 7, 2011

An Anecdote

Start your essay by telling a short, interesting story related to your subject.

I'd been getting into a lot of trouble—failing classes, taking things that didn't belong to me. So the guidance counselor at school suggested that my parents take me to a psychiatrist. "You mean a shrink?" my mother replied, horrified. My father and I had the same reaction. After all, what good would it do to lie on a couch while some "doctor" asked questions and took notes? So I went to my first session angry and skeptical. But after a few weeks, I realized that we had it all wrong. Those shrinks really know what they're doing. And mine helped me turn my life around.

Interesting Background Information

Tell your reader something unusual about your subject. Here's a revision of the Frankenstein introduction using this strategy:

Incredibly, Frankenstein—one of the most important novels in Western literature—was written by a teenager. When it was published in 1818,Mary Shelley was only 19 years old. Despite her youth, Shelley's story raises a question that is more important today that ever: What is the creator's relationship to his or her creation?

A New Twist on a Familiar Phrase

Reword or rework an old standard to create a fresh hook.

To eat or not to eat? That is the question millions of Americans struggle with every day as they fight the battle of the bulge. But it seems to be a losing battle. Despite the millions spent on diet pills and diet plans, Americans today are heavier than ever.

There are many reasons for this nationwide weight gain, but experts agree that the main cause is lack of exercise. And one of the reasons we don't get enough exercise is because we spend too much time in front of the TV.

Notice that this introduction is actually two paragraphs. In some essays, the introduction runs three or even four paragraphs. The key is to have an introduction that is in proportion with the rest of the essay. If your essay is two pages long, one paragraph is probably sufficient for the introduction. If it goes longer, the body of your essay, where you develop your main points and support them with evidence and examples, will lack the room it needs to completely state your case. But if your essay is ten or twelve pages long, it may take a couple of paragraphs to properly introduce your topic and thesis. You might have a more detailed anecdote, for example, or spend two or three paragraphs describing a scenario that sets up your thesis.

In Short

Introductions serve an important function. They "welcome" your reader into your essay by providing context, stating your thesis, and setting the tone. They should also grab your reader's interest. Strategies for attentiongrabbing hooks include starting with a quotation, a question, a surprising statement or fact, an imaginary situation or scenario, an anecdote, interesting background information, or a new twist on a familiar phrase.

Exercises for this concept can be found at Writing Introduction Paragraphs Practice.

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