- Name: Tricia Grissom
I write for myself, for the web, and for everyone who gets me. I've been on a fasting liquid diet, traveled to Europe, and raised 2 kids. And I'm directionally challenged - I get lost a lot.
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Eight Introduction Techniques that Hook Your Reader
1) Tell a Story
We like reading about people more than ideas or issues. Your audience will connect with your topic if you show them how it affects real people. If you are writing about plastic surgery for teens, tell me about Jessica’s nose job and I will read on to find out how it turned out.
2) Describe Something
Help us see the topic by using your senses to describe something about it. Seeing people, organizations, or events can connect us with the subject. For example, if your paper is on prison reform, you could start with a description of the prison conditions you are protesting.
3) Use a Quotation
Find a well turned phrase about your subject to get your audience’s attention. For example, Mark Twain said, "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." This might be a jumping off point for a discussion of book censorship. Check out Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations for ideas on your specific topic.
4) Use a Surprising Fact or Statistic
If you run across a surprising piece of information when writing or doing research, chances are it will surprise and interest your audience also. If you tell us half of all women will have heart disease, we will be interested in what your topic has to say about cardiovascular care. Show us something we didn't know, and we will conclude you have more information that may be valuable.
5) Go for Common Ground
This method works especially well if you are writing an argument paper. If you can find something both sides agree on, remind them of that common belief at the beginning and they will be more willing to listen to your side. Discussing an education issue? The majority of your audience will want students to get a good education, so start with that common goal and show how your issue connects to better learning.
6) Ask a Question
Asking a question makes your audience think about your issue; just make sure to answer the question in your paper. You don’t have to have the best answer, but you should fulfill the promise you made in asking the question by contributing your opinion. Writing about Internet censorship? Ask us what the Internet will look like in ten years, and then talk about your issue’s impact.
7) Start With a Controversial Thesis
If your thesis is controversial, start the paper with it. If you suggest reinstating the draft or eliminating Social Security, your reader will be curious enough about your provocative position to keep reading.
8) Provide Background Information
If we need a brief history to understand your topic, then give us the background – but only what we need. Some students use background information as space filler and bore themselves and their instructors with unnecessary background details. If you're writing about stem cell funding, a brief definition and explanation of their use might be in order, but we don’t need to know how they were discovered, or what cells are.
Labels: essays, introductions, research papers
Beginnings are Everything
There are many ways to begin an essay, but there are not very, very many. We begin in ways that are familiar to the reader, but we begin in ways that are not too overly familiar. Variety and familiarity, this is what we expect in all of our writing, especially in the way we write introductions.
The suggestions listed below are "tried and true." They work. And they also are infinitely expandable because they are not determined by content. They are formal techniques. Use one of these forms, but use your own content. If you don't believe that these techniques work, examine an essay that you like and see if the writer does not use one of the techniques listed below. And if the writer doesn't, what technique is being used? Add it to the list.
. Begin your essay with a short story. Everyone loves a story. Once upon a time ....
A question demands an answer. It matters little what the question is, if you ask it, the person you ask will try to answer. In writing, it is the reader who will try, and by making that attempt the reader has entered into your writing. Now you have to keep the reader interested.
A quotation is usually a good beginning because you have chosen the quoted material just because it is important to your story; therefore, the reader will also probably find it important. The reader may also recognize the quote and feel comfortable about it, sharing some of your insight. This is why politicians use quotes all of the time in their speeches.
The reader will probably not agree with the statement, but at least you have gotten the reader's attention. After that you can qualify your statement.
There is something about facts that appeal to most readers. We live in an "Information Age." If the facts are especially startling, then you have an even stronger grip on the reader's attention.
s. Sometimes it is best to just come right out with what it is you are concerned with. Most people admire directness.
, even if you don't agree with it, usually if you don't agree with it.
. Drama means conflict, and conflict gets our interest.
Descriptive detail acts like a photograph. It appeals to us. This is why magazines use photographs to attract our attention.
Dialogue is the way we get the human voice into our papers.
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