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Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University
Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.
Introductory paragraphs are important because they are the first thing that either grabs the attention of the reader or turns them off. Introductory paragraphs have several components including creative titles, hooks, connecting thoughts, background information and a thesis statement.
Let's talk about introductory paragraphs. Now introductions are really essential to your paper, this is what gets your reader interested or makes your reader disinterested. So, when I talk about introductions to my students, I talk about the main component. And the first, but not a lot of teachers talk about but I stress is, a creative title. I think that really pulls somebody into your paper. So you want to start of with a creative title, then you go to your hook which is your attention grabber; what gets the reader interested in reading about your paper and in your hook your goal would be to connect to them in some sort of way, and we'll talk about that in a few minutes. Then you want to follow that hook with a connecting thought. Since in your hook you're connecting to the reader's world, this connecting thought has to work to pull that world to what you're actually talking about where you'll give background info about your topic, and you don't want to write pages and pages but if you're writing about a book for instance, you may want to give a brief; maybe four words summary or four sentence summary, sorry, and then you're going to end with your Thesis statement. So make sure that, that Thesis statement comes as the very last sentence or sentences in that introductory paragraph.
Some quick tricks to think about while you're writing your introduction, first is an inverted triangle. So an upside down triangle, a lot of people use this visual to kind of imagine what an intro should look like. The reason is, because at the top you're going to be the most broad, you want to appeal to the most number of people so you're going to connect to the reader's world. Then you're going to bring them in, connect, give background information to the point where you are at the narrowest. You're very specific in the argument you're going to prove at the bottom. So that's kind of a visual to help you see what an introduction should look like. And then I always urge my students to connect or to focus on that connecting thought. A lot of times it's really easy to skip over because it's only one sentence, but it really does all the work here. It's what really makes the connection to the reader and them brings them to the topic of your essay. So let's take a look at an example of an introduction for a paper and see if we can identify those parts.
Alright, we've got "Mark Twain once said that, loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul. No two people understand this better than Jerry Renault, the main character in Robert Cormier's novel, The Chocolate War and civil war abolitionist, Nat Turner. Just as Nat Turner rebelled against the accepted petrified tradition of slavery in America, Jerry, a freshman at Trinity High School, rebels against the annual obligatory chocolate sale. While on the surface, the struggles the two men sorry endured were desperate, the theory behind their struggles is virtually the same. Both Nat Turner and Jerry Renault know what it means to struggle against insurmountable authority, to speak their minds in a world where no one is willing to listen and to ultimately give up their liveliness for the good of those to follow". Alright so let's start reviewing this.
Alright, I like the way this starts here with this quote and that's definitely one way of hooking your reader in. One thing that's particularly good is that the quote is framed, which means it starts of with your own words and worked into a sentence. It's not just set out there "loyalty to petrified opinion..." it really connects in. Then we've got "no people understand this" and this is referring back to the ideas and the quotes so here is our connecting thought. Aright so "no people understand this better that Jerry Renault, the main character in The Chocolate War, and civil war abolitionist, Nat Turner". So now we've transitioned from that quote that sticks out to people's everyday lives to talking about the book and abolitionists, alright? "Just as Nat Turner rebelled against the accepted petrified tradition of slavery.." So there's some background information incase you didn't know who Nat Turner was, alright, and then we have "Jerry, a freshman at Trinity High School rebels against the annual obligatory chocolate sale." There's our background information. If you had never read The Chocolate War, those are the basic facts that you need to know. "While on the surface, the struggles the two men endured were desperate, the theory behind their struggles is virtually the same..." and now we have a transition to a thesis that lists the main point and is argumentative. 'Both Nat Turner and Jerry Renault know what it means to struggle against insurmountable authority,' so we can assume the paper is going to spend a paragraph talking about the struggles. 'To speak their minds in a world where no one is willing to listen' ,we can assume we're going to have a paragraph about that, and they both "gave up their liveliness for the good of those to follow". So we can assume we're going to have a paragraph about that.
So here you can see how those parts of an introduction really worked together to get a reader interested and point the direction of the paper.
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