WHAT IS AN INTRODUCTION PARAGRAPH?
An introduction paragraph is simply the first paragraph of an essay
. Sometimes, introductions tend to be a bit tricky. Since the introduction is the first section of your essay that the reader comes across, the stakes are definitely high for your introduction to be captivating.
A good introduction paragraph should accomplish the following:
It should grip the reader and convince them that it’s worth their time to go through the rest of the essay.
It should introduce your topic.
It should present your viewpoint on the topic.
Akin to writing a title, you can write your introduction paragraph after having completed the body of the essay. Most people prefer to utilize this approach since they want to have an idea of where their essay goes before they come up with an introduction for it. The decision on when to write your introduction paragraph is a matter of personal preference.
Let us consider some tips on how to write an introduction paragraph that will capture your readers’ attention and therefore make them eager to go through the rest of the essay.
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BEGIN YOUR INTRODUCTION PARAGRAPH BROAD (BUT NOT TOO BROAD)
Most people don’t know how broad to go with their introductions whenever they are writing essays. For example, a short paragraph on Shakespeare’s Hamlet can all of a sudden include unnecessary details concerning Shakespeare’s childhood, then jump to the history of Western literature and also the English history. It’s not advisable to write an introduction like this since it can be quite confusing and it makes the reader wonder where you are going with your essay. Your introduction paragraph should offer the reader a sense of what they ought to expect from your essay, not to give further details about every piece of knowledge out there. Begin by going relatively broad and then narrow it down to your thesis. Ensure that you don’t go out of topic.
PROVIDE THE RELEVANT BACKGROUND (BUT DO NOT COMMENCE ON YOUR TRUE ARGUMENT)
When writing an introduction paragraph, it’s okay to provide a bit of context to your essay. However, the real ‘meat’ of your argument should be in the body paragraphs. One way to find out if a certain piece of information should be located in a body or an introduction paragraph is by asking yourself the following questions:
Is the information providing evidence or context?
Does it introduce the argument or attempt to prove it?
Real evidence warrants a body paragraph. The background and context most definitely belong in the introduction.
PROVIDE A THESIS
Most of the time, your main argument ought to be somewhere towards the end of the introduction. It is a standard practice to put your main argument or thesis as the final sentence of the first paragraph. Moreover, it can be awkward at times to put your thesis in one particular place if it does not necessarily fit. However, if your thesis fits in that position, it definitely is at the right place. On the other hand, if the thesis cannot be included in that location, find somewhere else where it can be placed.
PROVIDE PERTINENT, USEFUL INFORMATION
One thing that can make an introduction paragraph interesting is an anecdote. However, the anecdote that you want to include should be relevant to your topic. For instance, are you writing an essay about Muhammad Ali? An anecdote about his childhood might be relevant and even captivating. Are you writing about safety regulations when it comes to roller coasters? Include an anecdote about someone who got injured while on a roller coaster. The same can be said for quotes, statistics, and other kinds of information concerning your topic.
Some types of introduction paragraphs might have been successful once but have been utilized over and over again so that they have become clichéd. Beginning your essay with a definition is a good example of one of these practices. At this juncture, starting off with a definition can be a bit boring, and your reader might eventually switch off.
DON’T FEEL PRESSURED TO COME UP WITH THE INTRODUCTION PARAGRAPH FIRST
At times, it might not be easy to figure out exactly what information is relevant to your introduction paragraph until you’ve written your essay. For most writers, writer’s block occurs when writing the introduction. In case you’re encountering difficulties writing the introduction paragraph, you can write some or all of your body paragraphs and then go back to it. You will find it a bit easier to come up with the introduction after you’ve written the rest of the essay.
CONVINCE THE READER THAT YOUR ESSAY IS WORTHWHILE
The reader should finish reading the introduction paragraph thinking that the essay is interesting or relevant to their lives. A good introduction paragraph is appealing. It gets the reader thinking about the essay topic and wondering how you’ll be proving your argument. One of the best ways of convincing the reader that your essay is worth reading is by providing information that the reader might question. Once they are thinking about the topic and wondering why you are of that opinion, they will more likely be interested in your essay and will read the whole of it.
INTRODUCTION PARAGRAPH EXAMPLES
Here are some introduction paragraph examples to put things into perspective:
“In the US Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson’s statement that ‘all men are created equal’ seems opposite to how he actually lived his life, thus raising concerns about the difference between his private and public lives” – When you come across this introduction paragraph example, what immediately comes to mind is what transpired in Thomas Jefferson’s private life. This kind of introduction has begun with a captivating quote that makes the reader want to know more about how the public life of this American icon differed from his private life.
“One glaring statistic is that one in every six teenagers between the ages of fourteen and sixteen called into question the efficiency of laws forbidding cigarette advertising to children” – A startling statistic has been included in this introduction paragraph example for the reader to mull over. The reader will, therefore, expect to encounter an essay that contains cigarette laws.
“Working part-time as an attendant at Al’s grocery store has provided me with an opportunity to examine human behavior. Most of the time, I look at shoppers as lab rats in an experiment and the aisles as mazes devised by a psychologist. Most customers follow a routine pattern, walk up and down the aisles, check through my chute and then leave via the exit hatch. However, not everyone is reliable. My observation has revealed three kinds of peculiar customers: the super shopper, the amnesiac, and the laggard”- With this kind of introduction paragraph example, the writer begins by painting an image of a normal scenario. At this juncture, Al’s grocery store does not look like a fascinating subject. However, when you utilize it as an opportunity to examine human nature, it changes from ordinary to interesting. A reader will want to read the rest of the essay to find out which type of customer they are. Is the reader a laggard or a super shopper?
In a nutshell, a great introduction paragraph offers the reader a short overview of your topic and an explanation of your argument or thesis for that matter. A good introduction paragraph is supposed to be captivating, appealing, fresh, and concise. Successful introduction paragraphs do not depend on irrelevant information to illustrate the point.