First of all, most writers don't actually write the introduction until a draft of the essay has already been written. It is difficult to introduce a product that you as a writer have not created. Some writers must have the introduction written first so that they know in what direction they must travel. More often than not, you will never know where you are going until you get there. The method is individual, but the result should be an opening paragraph that introduces your topic, that introduces your direction, that states clearly your thesis, and that gets your reader's attention.
Some frequently used strategies:
- Begin with a summary of the main ideas of the essay.
- Begin with the background of your topic or, perhaps, of the assignment.
- Begin with a history of your topic, telling about events that lead up to the event that your paper describes.
- Begin with an interesting, startling, thought-provoking anecdote or quotation.
- Begin with a startling statistic.
- Begin with an explanation of your purpose in writing--without saying, "In this essay I want to ..."
A Short Model
Topic Sentence and Thesis Statement
Repeating Key Words
... Thus, I learned that stealing and jealousy are wrong in my culture. Until I began to distinguish acceptable from unacceptable behavior, constant tension existed between my parents and me.
After I had learned acceptable behavior, the second step in my process of maturity was to balance my desires with my conscience in order to become a well-adjusted individual...
Using Parallel Structure
... Kennedy made an effort to assure non-Catholics that he would respect the separation of church and state, and most of them did not seem to hold his religion against him in deciding how to vote. Since his election, the church to which a candidate belongs has become less important in presidential politics.
The region from which a candidate comes remains an important factor...
Singer's tale is of a pathetic Polish Jew, Gimpel, who because of his strong faith believes everything he is told. At the beginning of the tale, we learn that Gimpel has had a gruesomely cruel life. He is an orphan, and all his life he has been teased and tormented for believing everything he hears.
Even the most ridiculous and far-fetched tales take him in. For example, when he is told that the Messiah has come and his parents have risen from the dead, he goes out to search for them! In his seemingly foolish search, he is berated by the townsfolk.
Using Other Transitional Devices
... While the Indian, in the character of Tonto, was more positively portrayed in "The Lone Ranger," such a portrayal was more the exception than the norm.
Moreover, despite this brief glimpse of an Indian as an ever-loyal sidekick, Tonto was never accorded the same stature as the man with the white horse and silver bullets...
Editing / Proofreading
- What is the topic sentence of each paragraph, and is it stated or implied? Where in the paragraph does it fall? Should it come at some other point? Would any paragraph be improved by deleting or adding a topic sentence?
- Which sentences, if any, do not relate in some way to the topic sentence? Is there any way to justify their inclusion?
- What is the most general sentence in each paragraph? If not the topic sentence, should it remain or be omitted?
- Is each paragraph organized in a way that is easy for readers to follow? By what means are sentences linked in each paragraph? Do any more links need to be added? Do any of the transitional expressions try to create links that do not really exist between ideas?
- How completely does each paragraph develop its topic sentence? What methods of development are used, and are they effective? What other methods might be used? Does the paragraph need more material?
- How long is each paragraph? Are paragraphs varied in length? Does any paragraph seem too long or too short? Is there anything that might be given strong emphasis by a one-sentence paragraph?
- By what means are the paragraphs linked together? Do any more links need to be added? Do any of the transitional expressions try to create links that do not really exist between ideas?
- How does the introduction catch the interest of readers? How exactly does it open--with a quotation? An anecdote? A question? A strong statement? How else might it open?
- How does the last paragraph draw the essay to a conclusion? What lasting impression will it leave with the readers? How exactly does it close--with a question? A quotation? A vivid image? A warning or call for action? How else might this essay conclude?