Essay Writing Process I – Introduction

Posted on Posted in Tips Tuesday

Happy Tuesday! I hope you all are doing great guys! I am awesome (thank you for asking, if you did). Today, I want to begin a series of posts developing on the topic of writing your essays, or at least the general ideas. I already began talking about essays in a previous post, which you can go see right here in case you haven’t already. I suggest you read that one before continuing with this one. For this one, we will be looking at the basics of writing a good introduction for your essay. So, are you ready? Let’s kick this off!

Hooking Readers into your Essay

Last time, we mentioned how your reader will not be grabbing your essay unless you are talking about something interesting or relevant. It cannot be something your reader already knows. You cannot  drop an epic quote or idea in the last line of your essay, however (that actually is a terrible idea, in many ways). There is no guarantee your reader will get to the end of your paper, but not because you didn’t install a tracking device on your paper to see who read it and who didn’t (I mean, you could, but that’s creepy if you ask me). You have the responsibility of creating an essay engaging enough so that your reader gets to its end. A good hook in the right place is your best bet. The way you make your reader be enthusiastic about your paper is during its introduction.

The length of each part of the essay is measured in paragraphs, and each paragraphs in sentences. You need to keep this is mind at all times. The introduction can be up to two paragraphs long, but ideally, you want to sum it all up in one. Why? Because your reader is waiting for the reasons to read your essay: don’t make them wait for long. On the same page, an introductory paragraph is normally between 3 and 5 sentences long. Notice I said “introductory paragraph”, not “introduction”. Remember your introduction could be composed of two paragraphs.

The engagement with your reader is called hook. Think of a fish and a fishing rod: how to make the fish fall for the reel and not go. The hook serves that purpose, and that purpose only. Therefore, it needs to be something interesting, not obvious, and attractive.

How to Deliver the Proper Hook

The hook can be dropped in a lot of different ways, each serving a different purpose or goal. There are five traditional ways of presenting a good hook in the introduction.

  • Surprising statement. A fact (non-statistical or numerical) that might be surprising for your readers. This one is focused on some information that does not need to be proven, but that is a fact.
  • Statistics. Providing factual, statistical information to your reader can be used to surprise them. This method is very similar to the previous one, but it needs a document or a paper that backs up the information you are providing, and also the proper citation, if you didn’t conduct the research that provided that information.
  • Anecdote. Anecdotes focus on a brief story that might attract your audience into a topic, and lure them into continue reading. It must not be more than a couple of sentences long, and it should help you get to an important idea: your thesis statement (of which we will talk further in a while).
  • Question. Asking something is a great startup, specially if the answer is something the reader wants to know. Whenever you use this method, you should be providing the answer of it at one point of your essay (but not necessarily in the introduction). It is a great way of placing a curiosity in your reader’s mind. However, in Academic papers, it is better not to use this method, since it lacks formality.
  • Quotations. Using someone else’s words is another way to hook your readers. However, be wary: it is a terrible idea if the quote is already well-known, since in that case, it’d be more likely your readers will have read it already, and therefore they might not be interested in what you have to say about it.

The proper Structure for your Essay’s Introduction

The best way to explain how a the introduction should be written is a funnel.
Right after you provide the hook, you need to continue developing ideas, but they need to be more focused in what your topic is going to be than the hook was. Each idea needs to be more and more specific than the previous one. You need to guide your reader to your main idea. The role of the introduction in your essay is to set your reader’s mind into what your essay will be about. Consequently, you need to start with a general idea, and start narrowing it down to specifics. You might want to talk about abortion in a certain country. Yet, it is not a bad idea to start with, for instance, an statistical information about abortion worldwide. Doing it this way, you are giving more importance to your topic, which helps you hook your readers more effectively.

Thesis Statement

The last part of your introduction (not necessarily the last sentence itself) must be your thesis statement. The thesis statement is not your topic, but the combination of your topic, and what you want to say about it (which is called the controlling idea). This will be the most important sentence in your whole essay, and the idea you want to argue about (remember the ‘arguing’ part?). Because of this, it cannot be a fact. It needs to be something new and arguable for your reader.
Next, I will provide you some tips for your thesis statement.
  • Your thesis statement must be a sentence alone. Don’t split it into two, and don’t add anything to it. Just your topic and your controlling idea.
  • Your thesis statement must not be obvious or announced. The way the funnel works is so it comes naturally, without you having to announce it.
  • The thesis statement can be an opinion. It could be your own, but it shouldn’t be a popular one. If your opinion is the most common among other people, then maybe you don’t have the best topic.
  • Even though you may have mentioned a certain word or concept, you must not use pronouns in your thesis statement. Using pronouns make the ideas depend on previous sentences, which is terrible. You should be able to read the thesis statement alone, and it should make sense on its own.

 

Thank you very much for taking the time for reading! There will be more entries in the future about how to write body paragraphs and the conclusion of your essay. Stay tuned, and strive for the best version of yourself! Until the next time!

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