Tips for Writing an Introduction
One of the trickiest things to write in an essay is a good introduction. It’s important, because it eases your readers into the topic you’re writing about, and sets their expectations for what will come. It introduces your thesis—what your entire essay is about—and provides any necessary context for what they are about to read.
Writing a solid introduction can be tricky, especially if you make the mistake of writing it before you write the body of your essay. It’s tempting to do just that—it comes first on the page, so why shouldn’t it be written first? However, sometimes, the act of writing the body of your essay helps make your argument more concrete in your mind, making it easier to sum up in your head and, thus, easier to introduce. Here are a few other tips for writing a rock-solid introduction.
- Don’t assume your audience knows what your essay topic is about, even if you’re writing it for the teacher who assigned it. Your introduction should stand alone.
- On the same note, provide the context and background information needed to set up your thesis. If you’re responding to a book, for example, talk briefly about the subject in the book that you’ll be dealing with.
- Your introduction leads up to your thesis, so make sure it’s clear that your point of view is coming. Don’t just say, for instance, “Prospero is a character in The Tempest”; add in your opinion with something like “Prospero is a troubled character…”
- Define any terms or ideas that are central to your paper if they’re not common knowledge. This is especially important in more technical writing.
- Your introduction sets the tone of your essay. Are you trying to persuade someone, or just inform them? Is it serious, or is it more humorous? Are you writing formally or informally? Your introduction sets all that up.
- Add in a “hook” to keep your reader interested and make them want to keep reading. Ask a question, mention a related story, use a surprising statistic or an interesting quotation. You want your reader to want to read more, so write something that’ll pique their interest.
- Don’t be overly general! While the introduction does narrow down as it goes until you get to your specific thesis, don’t start with something like “The movies are a popular form of entertainment” or “Crime is a problem”. Be more specific.
- Don’t refer to your writing intentions, by which I mean don’t use the phrase “In this paper, I will…”. The reader knows that your introduction will tell them what happens in your paper; that’s what it’s there for. You don’t start sentences with “In this sentence, I will tell you that…”.
- Don’t simply restate the assigned essay question! While you may be responding to a prompt, your essay should stand on it’s own.
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