Good writing calls for practiceand commitment. One of the keys to being an effective writer is rememberingyour audience, keeping them in mind, understanding that the best audience is onethat takes an active rather than passive role in reading what it is that youare trying to get across. The opening and closing strategies that have beendiscussed here are proven means for accomplishing that exact purpose. At thesame time, you have been given a list of the do’s and don’ts in developingthesis statements. To become really adept at writing, though, you have to read:widely and broadly. Reading will give you access not only to new informationbut, even more, will expose you to different writing styles and ways ofexpression that can only enhance and improve your own.
Quotation Introduction: Many writers are tempted to start their essay with a quote. You should try to resist this temptation, as most quotes will look forced. Admissions officers will be turned off if it is apparent that you searched through a book of famous quotes and came up with a quote from some famous philosopher about whom you know nothing. The quotation introduction is most effective when the quote you choose is unusual, funny, or obscure, not too long, and from those to whom you are closest. Choose a quote with a meaning you plan to reveal to the reader as the essay progresses. The admissions committee is interested in how you respond to the quote and what that response says about you.
The introduction is the first sentence of your essay and it plays the dual role of setting the theme of your essay and engaging the reader. The introduction should not be overly formal. You do not want an admissions officer to start reading your essay and think, "here we go again." Although admissions officers will try to give the entire essay a fair reading, they are only human -- if you lose them after the first sentence, the rest of your essay will not get the attention it deserves.
The introduction should start with a general discussion of your subject and lead to a very specific statement of your main point, or thesis. Sometimes an essay begins with a "grabber," such as a challenging claim, or surprising story to catch a reader's attention. The thesis should tell in one (or at most two) sentence(s), what your overall point or argument is, and briefly, what your main body paragraphs will be about.
For example, in an essay about the importance of airbags in cars, the introduction might start with some information about car accidents and survival rates. It might also have a grabber about someone who survived a terrible accident because of an airbag. The thesis would briefly state the main reasons for recommending airbags, and each reason would be discussed in the main body of the essay.
In the introduction above, the opening line does not serve to grab the reader’s attention. Instead, it is a statement of an obvious and mundane fact. The second sentence is also not very specific. A more effective attention grabber may point out a specific, and perhaps surprising, instance when adults use math in their daily lives, in order to show the reader why this is such as important topic to consider.
Don't Start Your Essay with a Summary. If you summarize, the admissions officer does not need to read the rest of your essay. You want to start your essay with something that makes the reader want to read until the very end. Once you have drawn the reader in through the first one to three sentences, the last sentence in your introductory paragraph should explain clearly and briefly what the point of the whole essay is. That is, why you are using this person, place, or thing. What does it say about you?
Although for short essays the introduction is usually just one paragraph, longer argument or research papers may require a more substantial introduction. The first paragraph might consist of just the attention grabber and some narrative about the problem. Then you might have one or more paragraphs that provide background on the main topics of the paper and present the overall argument, concluding with your thesis statement.
Says: This introduction is both creative and effective. It amuses the reader by listing a bizarre and probably fictitious set of achievements, thus demonstrating the writerâs imagination (and poking fun at the admissions process). At the same time, its light tone avoids sounding too obnoxious. As a note, you should remember that good use of semicolons will impress your reader: "I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees; I write award-winning operas; I manage time efficiently."