It’s once again in front of you. Your university professor has assigned you the daunting task of writing an essay for the class you’re a part of. Even though it sounds overwhelming at first, the smoothest way to get through even the largest of reports is by organizing it into smaller sections. As always, there are three main parts of writing an essay:
- Introduction with a clear thesis
- Body paragraphs
Right now, just focus on the start to your essay. Even though it seems like an insignificant part when considering the entire essay, it should be thought of as one of the most important parts. Your essay introduction is going to be the very first thing that the reader uses to in terms of gathering information regarding what you have written. In this short, direct, paragraph, you have a job of getting their attention, stating your thesis, and explaining what’s to come in the more specific details ahead. You can figure out more on how to create a quality essay introduction by following each one of these useful steps.
Identifying Your Essay Type
Before you ever get started writing an essay intro, you need first to identify what kind of essay you are going to be writing. It could be an academic essay, a research essay, a literary essay, or a personal essay. Those are just a few of the types that your professor may request from you. It depends on what the subject is, and what he or she wants you to deliver to them with research, facts, and knowledge. When you figure that out, unless you have experience in writing that specific style, you need to look at what an effective essay looks like. To do this, you can browse the internet, ask your instructor for a sample, or check other reliable resources to see examples of introductions.
Not all introductions are going to be the same. Take a look at a few to get a better idea of what a quality one should consist of. Further detail in creating every part of your introduction including a hook, thesis, and a summary can be found below.
Hooking Your Audience
After looking at some sample essay introductions, you can decide how you want to begin your own. Ideally, your essay intro is only going to be about three to five sentences. Every part that you include must be effective.
The most important thing is, you have to be able to hook your reader with the first sentence. This is what is going to grab their attention and keep them reading all the way until the end. Granted, your professor might read it until the end because he or she has to in order to give you a grade. You really want them reading it because they are interested though, not because they have to.
There are several ways to accomplish this hook and an explanation of each can be found here:
- Start with a short story
- Ask a question
- Use a quote
- Tell the reader something shocking
- Explain a fact
- State your opinion or thesis
- Use an anecdote
- Be dramatic
- Describe a scene
- Put your own voice in it with dialogue
Each one of these allows your reader to better to relate to the topic matter. Consider your audience and your message before setting on the type of a hook you are going to use.
After the hook, the remainder will be a thesis statement and a summary. Your introduction for your essay should loosely talk about what’s to come in the rest of the paper. You don’t want to go into too much detail and give the whole story away. What you do want is to give the audience enough information, so they know what your point of view is on the topic, and what you are going to explain to them in the rest of the essay.
Telling Your Side of The Argument
Go back to when you decided what kind of essay you were writing and the main idea or topic. This is going to be important in this step as well. In the introduction, you will have to give your point a view some substance in the form of a descriptive argument. You can’t just state what you think and then not back it up with researched facts and specific details. In this part of the introduction, you can share a few truths, ideas, or thoughts that you may not be able to fit anywhere else within the paper.
Go Over Your Paper’s Structure
Did you start your paper by writing an outline? If you did, you probably already have a pretty clear picture of the way your essay is structured. This is going to make it really easy to write a clear, chronological introduction. If you don’t have an outline, that’s okay. You can do a quick review of your main points and jot down a bit of a road map to show what your argument is and what path you are taking to prove your point. The idea, in a general way, should be shared in the introduction paragraph. In essence, your structure should follow a chronological order of your paper.
Writing a Thesis
Your thesis is what should pack the biggest punch in your introduction and maybe even the whole paper. This is where you tell the audience not only what your paper is about, but what your stance is on the topic that is going to be discussed. Don’t just jot down, “I think (this) about (this) and then start writing. You want to write something that is thought-provoking, detailed, and it has to be an idea that you can prove with facts and statistics.
- “A moose is the best forest animal because it has horns…” could be a thesis statement, except it’s not a phrase that you can back up with facts. This is more of an opinion statement and you aren’t going to be able to prove it’s true.
- “The ocean is a habitat for the most diverse species of animals…” is a thesis that you can prove by discussing what creatures are found there.
No matter what, the main idea is to keep the audience interested in what you have to say so that they continue on.
After you have a thesis, you then need to decide where it is going to go in your introduction. You can use it as a first sentence if it is interesting enough to grab and keep the interest of your audience. Another place to put it is as a last sentence, and it is most common. It is a popular spot because it can usually be used as a transitional phrase. You must be sure that the last sentence of your introduction is a smooth transition into the first paragraph, or you might lose your reader before they even begin.
Start with A Rough Draft for Your Essay Introduction
Just like with the rest of your essay, your introduction can be kicked off by jotting down a rough draft. It gives you a starting point, and you can always clean up what you have written down later on.
What Questions Are You Answering
Think about what answers you are trying to provide in your essay and write them down. It can be a great way to formulate an introduction. It will help the reader to identify what they can expect to gain by finishing the paper.
- Make it clear what your point of view is.
- Write your thesis before you try to compose an introduction
- Remember who your audience is and consider questions that they will have regarding the topic
Outline Your Introduction
Along with creating an outline for your entire essay, you may want to think about outlining your introduction as well. This can be a good plan if you have a lot of detailed information you want to give your audience right away. The introduction outline is going to look very similar to the outline you have done for your paper, but it won’t be quite as lengthy.
- Main Idea
- Supporting sentence
- Supporting sentence
- Supporting sentence
You can use the outline as your rough draft. After you have a few words or phrases down, polish it up into cohesive sentences and this will be the first version of what your essay introduction is going to look like.
Recall that your introduction should only be a few sentences. Try to get out as much as you can without rambling on in that very first paragraph. It might give your readers a poor idea of what is to come and they may even quit reading if you do.
Polishing Up Your Hook
The hook in your essay introduction is the most significant part of that first paragraph. You not only want to grab your reader’s interest, you always want to show the audience that you are a credible writer. The way to do this, in some instances, is by backing up your hook with relevant facts.
Explaining the Hook
Some hooks require absolutely no explanation at all. In most cases, that’s what you want your hook to be. The idea is to quickly grab your reader’s attention and get your point across with one simple statement. However, that isn’t always a possibility. In some instances, you have to explain your hook so that it is clear why you used it. When you have to do an explanation, use facts and other background information.
Decide on Thesis Placement
It is common to find the thesis statement at the end of the introduction. For most any essay, this is going to be the structure that you want to follow. However, like with other academic writing, there are always exceptions to the rules.
Avoiding Issues with Your Opening
The introduction to your essay is of course found at the very beginning. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it needs to be done first. Many people find it easier to save their essay introduction for the end since by then, the answer to all questions will be completed. Instead of letting the introduction take away the focus for the rest of your paper, consider leaving it until after you have a strong body written. Whatever way is going to work for you, use it.
Don’t Fall into Fluff and General Statements
Part of your essay introduction assignment is to really pack a punch with your opening summary. Everything that you include should be directly related to the main topic. Stay away from using filler information to beef up the introduction. Never use a general or sweeping statement. It’s not going to be effective in getting the reader’s attention. Open with something that the audience is going to learn from. All your statements should be direct, clear, and informative.
Keep It Short and Simple
Regardless if you use a quotation, a major fact, or if you share other appropriate ideas in your essay introduction, you want to make it shorter rather than longer. Under almost no circumstance should you ever directly state what the paper is going to be about. Saying “This essay is going to be about…” should be understood by the audience in what you have already said.
Deciding on Your Next Steps
After you make an introduction for your essay that explains in an effective way what the reader is going to find in the body paragraphs, it’s time to move on to the rest of your essay. Depending on what order you are using, your next move may be writing the body itself, or it could be going to the conclusion. If it is the conclusion, remember that you should be rewriting the introduction in a less descriptive form. Leave the reader with the satisfaction that they have learned something while soaking in all that you have written.