Your introduction paragraph should grab your reader's attention, introduce the topic of your essay, and present your thesis. (The thesis is the main idea of the essay.) As you introduce your topic, make sure to give the reader enough background information about the topic that the reader will be able to understand the thesis.
You can visualize the ideas in your introduction paragraph by thinking about an inverted triangle. The ideas in the beginning of your introduction paragraph are general. Then you narrow down the topic to a specific idea.
The very first sentence of your introduction should get your reader interested in your topic. The first sentence of an introduction is called a "hook."
The word hook is a noun for a tool you use to catch, hold, or pull something. A good example of this is the hook used for fishing. The hook is the part that catches the fish and allows the person to pull the fish out of the water.Photo by David J. Boozer on Unsplash
A hook in writing fills the same purpose. It is the interesting start to your essay that gets the reader's attention, pulls them in, and keeps them reading until the end.
There are many types of hooks: facts, questions, problems, descriptions, etc.
Look at the example hooks below. What strategy does the writer use to make you interested? Which ones do you think are most effective?
After the hook, you will introduce the necessary background knowledge (context) that the reader will need before introducing your main points. This is the more general information that is the foundation for your thesis.
Depending on the type of essay you are writing and who your audience is, you will have to adjust the content of your introduction.
In this textbook, you will practice three main types of essays.
In the descriptive essay, you will practice describing and narrating about the life of a famous individual. Because you are writing about a person, you should include biographical information in your introduction. Think about where, when, and why this person had an influence on the world.
The second essay type in this book is a comparison essay. You will choose two topics and discuss either the similarities or differences. The context needed in the introduction will be about why these two topics are worth comparing in the first place? Why should the reader care?
Finally, the argumentative essay requires you to take a position on a topic. The introduction may include general information about the topic and why there are divisive opinions. It may challenge a widely-held belief. Your context is focused on establishing why you would have to take a position on this topic.
Your reader has a significant impact on your introduction. Before you begin writing, think about who this essay is for.
At the most basic level, the essay audience is your teacher. Think about what your teacher would be expected to already know about this topic. If the topic you chose is closely tied to your culture or country's history, think about what the average person outside of your home would need to know to follow your organization. It may help to write a list of questions you think that your teacher would ask if you started a conversation about your topic.
Beyond your teacher, your essay should have another audience. For your descriptive essay, you could think of writing a wiki article. A comparison is often used in media to discuss differences between products, beliefs, people, places, etc. And argumentative essays have a lot in common with blogs and many opinion news articles. Besides thinking of your teacher, think about who would read your essay if you published it openly. What would that audience need to know?
Using the example writing situations below, identify the topic, the type of writing, and the audience. Practice brainstorming information for an introduction using who, what, where, when, why, and how questions.
The thesis states the main idea, or focus, of the essay. The rest of the essay will give evidence and explanations that show why or how your thesis is true.
*In some essays you write, you will not have a specific question to answer. Instead, you may need to choose your own topic. Your essay should still answer a question (e.g., how are typical Japanese and Chinese diets similar or different?).
Discuss each thesis statement with a partner. Which sentences are effective thesis statements? Which sentences are not effective thesis statements? Be prepared to explain why it is not effective.
Prompt 1: What causes poverty?
Prompt 2: Does advertising encourage us to buy things we do not need, or does it tell us about new products that may improve our lives?