Writing an Introduction Or Why doesn’t anyone want to read my paper? Or Why doesn’t anyone want to read my paper?
This powerpoint will explain the functions of introductions, provide you with examples of introductions to be avoided, offer strategies for writing effective ones. explain the functions of introductions, provide you with examples of introductions to be avoided, offer strategies for writing effective ones.
The Role of Introductions Your introduction acts as a bridge that transports your readers from their own lives into the "place" of your analysis.
The Role of Introductions If your readers pick up your paper about Othello, for example, they need a transition to help them leave behind the world of Tucson, network television, e- mail, and their fight with their BFF to help them temporarily enter the world of Shakespeare’s society.
The Role of Introductions By providing an introduction that helps your readers make a transition between their own world and the issues you will be writing about, you give your readers the tools they need to get into your topic and care about what you are saying.
Why bother writing a good introduction? Or Doesn’t my teacher have to read my paper anyway?
1. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The opening paragraph of your paper will provide your readers with their initial impressions of your argument, your writing style, and the overall quality of your work.
A concise, engaging, and well- written introduction will start your readers off thinking highly of you, your analytical skills, your writing, and your paper.
2. Your introduction is an important road map for the rest of your paper. Your introduction conveys a lot of information to your readers: what your topic is, why it is important, and how you plan to proceed with your discussion. 2. Your introduction is an important road map for the rest of your paper. Your introduction conveys a lot of information to your readers: what your topic is, why it is important, and how you plan to proceed with your discussion.
2. It should contain a thesis that will assert your main argument. It will also, ideally, give the reader a sense of information you will use to make that argument and the general organization of the paragraphs that follow. After reading your introduction, your readers should not have any major surprises in store when they read the main body of your paper.
Why bother writing a good introduction? 3. Ideally, your introduction will make your readers want to read your paper, capture your readers' interest, and make them want to read the rest of your paper.
3. Opening with a compelling story, a fascinating quotation, an interesting question, or a stirring example can get your readers to see why this topic matters and serve as an invitation for them to join you for an interesting intellectual conversation.
Five Kinds of Less Effective Introductions Or So that’s why no one wants to read my paper! Or So that’s why no one wants to read my paper!
The Place Holder Introduction Essentially, this kind of weaker introduction contains several sentences that are vague and don't really say much. They exist just to take up the "introduction space" in your paper. If you had something more effective to say, you would probably say it, but in the meantime this paragraph is just a place holder.
The Place Holder Introduction Weak Example: In Shakespeare’s play, Othello, many things lead to Othello’s tragic demise. A tragic hero must have a tragic ending. In the end, Othello kills Desdemona and then himself. This is an example of a why Othello is a tragedy.
The Restated Question Introduction Restating the question can be an effective strategy, but it can be easy to stop at JUST restating the question instead of offering a more effective, interesting introduction to your paper.
The Restated Question Introduction Weak Example: Who or what is responsible for Othello’s tragic demise? There are many answers that could be argued as the reasons for Othello’s fall. This essay will examine who or what is responsible for Othello’s fall.
The Webster's Dictionary Introduction This introduction begins by giving the dictionary definition of one or more of the words in the assigned question.
The Webster's Dictionary Introduction Anyone can look a word up in the dictionary and copy down what Webster says (or paste it right from Dictionary.com) - it may be far more interesting for you (and your reader) if you develop your own definition of the term in the specific context of your class and assignment.
The Dawn of Man Introduction This kind of introduction generally makes broad sweeping statements about the relevance of this topic since the beginning of time. It is usually very general and fails to connect to the thesis. You might write this kind of introduction when you don't have much to say--which is precisely why it is ineffective.
The Book Report Introduction This introduction is what you had to do for your fifth-grade book reports. It gives the name and author of the book you are writing about, tells what the book is about, and offers other basic facts about the book.
The Book Report Introduction You might resort to this sort of introduction when you are trying to fill space because it's a familiar, comfortable format. It is ineffective because it offers details that your reader already knows and that are irrelevant to the thesis.
Strategies for Writing an Effective Introduction
Pay special attention to your first sentence. If any sentence in your paper is going to be completely free of errors and vagueness, it should be your first one. Start off on the right foot with your readers by making sure that the first sentence actually says something useful and that it does so in an interesting and error-free way.
Be straightforward and confident. Avoid statements like "In this paper, I will argue…." While this sentence points toward your main argument, it isn't especially interesting. It might be more effective and convincing to say what you mean in a declarative sentence. Assert your main argument confidently. After all, you can't expect your reader to believe it if it doesn't sound like you believe it!
Using the Prompt/Question Start by thinking about the question in the prompt. Your entire essay will be a response to the assigned question, and your introduction is the first step toward that end.
Using Your Prompt/Question Your direct answer to the assigned question will be your thesis, and your thesis will be included in your introduction, so it is a good idea to use the question as a jumping off point.
Using the “Big Picture” One strategy might be start off with a big picture sentence, a broad statement about the subject.
Using Background Information Works well when audience is already interested and you can come directly to the point. Especially useful for exams since there is limited time or no need to be subtle.
“With inflation low, many companies have understandably lowered prices and the oil industry should be no exception. Consequently, homeowners have begun wondering whether the high price of home heating oil is justified given the economic climate. It makes sense, therefore, for us to start examining the pricing policy of the major American oil companies.” (economics essay - Patterns for College Writing)
The Attention Grabber Open with an attention grabber. Sometimes, especially if the topic of your paper is somewhat dry or technical, opening with something catchy can help.
Attention-grabbing openers might get your reader interested and also help your reader connect to what might otherwise seem a pretty obscure topic. Essentially, you can use attention-grabbers to help your readers see why your topic is relevant and to help them begin to care about your findings and perspectives.
Examples of The Attention Grabber an intriguing example a provocative quotation a puzzling scenario a vivid and perhaps unexpected anecdote a thought-provoking question an intriguing example a provocative quotation a puzzling scenario a vivid and perhaps unexpected anecdote a thought-provoking question
A Surprising Statement Use an unexpected statement to catch the audience’s attention and make them want to read more.
A Surprising Statement Believe it or not, most people who live in the suburbs are not white and rich. My family, for example, fits into neither of these categories. Ten years ago, my family and I came to the United States from Pakistan. My parents were poor then, and by some standards, they are still poor even though they both work two jobs.
A Surprising Statement (cont’d.) Still, they eventually saved enough to buy a small house in the suburbs of Chicago. Throughout the country, there are many suburban families like mine who are working hard to make ends meet so that their children can get a good education and go to college. (composition essay – Patterns for College Writing)
Begin with a Quotation Use a quotation to arouse audience interest
A Quotation “The rich are different,” F. Scott Fitzgerald said more than seventy years ago. Apparently, they still are. As an examination of the tax code shows, the wealthy receive many more benefits than the middle class or poor do. (accounting paper – Patterns for College Writing)
Begin with an Anecdote or Story Lead your reader to the thesis with an anecdote or story that pertains to your topic or thesis.
Anecdote or Story Three years ago, I went with my grandparents to my first auction. They live in a small town outside of Lancaster, PA, where it is common for people to auction off the contents of a home when someone moves or dies.
Anecdote or Story (cont’d.) As I walked through the crowd, I smelled funnel cakes frying in the food trucks, heard the hypnotic chanting of the auctioneer, and sensed the excitement of the crowd. Two hours later, I walked off with and old trunk that I bought for thirty dollars and a passion for auctions that I still have today. (composition essay - Patterns for College Writing)
Begin with a Question Although your thesis cannot be a question, you can begin with a question. A rhetorical question can be intriguing.
Begin with a Question What was it like to live through the holocaust? Elie Wiesel, in One Generation After, answers this question by presenting series of accounts about ordinary people who found themselves imprisoned in Nazi death camps. As he does so, he challenges some of the assumptions we have about the Holocaust and those who survived it. (sociology book report - Patterns for College Writing)
Begin with a Contradiction Open your essay with an idea that people believe is true and then show how it is inaccurate.
Begin with a Contradiction Many people think that after the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, the colonists defeated the British army in battle after battle. This commonly held belief is incorrect. The British were defeated not because the colonial army was strongest, but because George Washington refused to be led into a costly winner-take-all battle and because the British government lost interest in pursuing an expensive war three thousand miles from home. (history take-home exam- Patterns for College Writing)
Begin with a Fact or Statistic Find an interesting or startling fact or statistic that will hook your audience.
Begin with a Statistic According to a recent government study, recipients of Medicare will spend billions of dallars on drugs over the next ten years. This is a very large amount of money, and it illustrates why lawmakers must do more to help older Americans with the cost of medications. Although the current legislation is an important first step, more must be done to help the elderly afford the drugs they need. (public policy essay- Patterns for College Writing)
Writing Your Introduction Last Try writing your introduction last. You may think that you have to write your introduction first, but that isn't necessarily true, and it isn't always the most effective way to craft a good introduction.
Writing Your Introduction Last It is perfectly fine to start out thinking that you want to argue a particular point, but wind up arguing something slightly or even dramatically different by the time you've written most of the paper.
Writing Your Introduction Last The writing process can be an important way to organize your ideas, think through complicated issues, refine your thoughts, and develop a sophisticated argument.
Sometimes it helps to write up all of your evidence first and then write the introduction -- that way you can be sure that the introduction matches the body of the paper.
Don't be afraid to write a tentative introduction first and then change it later. Some people find that they need to write some kind of introduction in order to get the writing process started. Be sure to return to your initial introduction later and rewrite if need be.
So, now that you know the functions of introductions, examples of introductions to be avoided, and strategies for writing effective ones, the functions of introductions, examples of introductions to be avoided, and strategies for writing effective ones, write an effective, interesting introduction write an effective, interesting introduction !