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Getting Ready to Write Study Guide (page 2)

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Updated on Oct 1, 2011

Tips on Writing an Interesting Introduction

  • Ask a question, whether or not you answer it right away.
  • Use a quotation, which needn't be from a famous person; it might come from someone you've interviewed for the essay.
  • Include a startling or shocking fact that will grab your reader's attention.
  • Include a dramatic description of a situation or event related to your topic.
  • Start out with an exclamation: "Wow . . . who knew the problem was this great!" This isn't a question that calls for an answer; it's simply a dramatic device (known as a rhetorical question) that can often be used effectively. Be cautious about using this device; it is quite informal and may not be appropriate in many assigned essays.

The Body of The Essay

Wherever you decide to put your thesis statement, make sure that every subsequent paragraph supports your thesis statement. This is absolutely essential to a well-written essay. The body paragraphs, no matter how many of them there are, must build on—and ideally, expand on—the idea put forth in the thesis statement.

It is helpful to think of your essay as a puzzle. Each piece contributes to the whole, and the picture wouldn't be complete without all those little parts. Alternatively, think of each paragraph as a steppingstone in a path that leads to your final conclusion. But be careful: Don't let your path take too many detours and wind around unnecessarily. The path should be straight as an arrow—each paragraph following the one before, either elaborating on or supporting it, or adding new information that builds toward the conclusion.

The Conclusion of An Essay

Weak conclusions simply repeat the thesis statement from the introduction:

In conclusion, it is clear that kids are watching too much television.

Strong conclusions offer a summation of the thesis statement and offer either some new insight, or at the very least something more to think about.

While the most reputable studies are unanimous in their condemnation of the amount of time most middle school students spend watching television, there is strong evidence that the Internet is replacing television as a favorite pastime for kids aged 8 to 12. Does this mean that kids are learning something useful while they're staring at their computer screens? Let's hope so.

Practice 1: Evaluating Thesis Statements

Fill in the following chart with improved thesis statements to replace the weak thesis statements provided. Please note the sample response provided. If you need more room, use a separate piece of paper. Save your answers; they will be useful in subsequent lessons.

Getting Ready to Write

Practice 2: Writing Lively Introductions

For the three strong thesis statements that you have written, write an opening sentence, or complete introductory paragraph, for the essays that might follow your thesis statements.

If you like, you may write your introductory sentences (or paragraphs) right in this chart. If you do so, they'll be easy to refer back to during subsequent lessons. Otherwise, write them on a separate piece of paper and be sure to save what you've written for future use.

Getting Ready to Write

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