One of the hardest parts of writing an essay (of writing anything, actually) is coming up with an introduction. That’s due in large part to just how important an introduction is to a paper. That first paragraph has to be so provocative, so interesting, so utterly riveting that your readers will all but fall over themselves to finish reading the rest of the essay.
With pressure like that, it’s no wonder introductions are put off by writers until the very end, the last paragraph to grace the page and usually the most disappointing. That they are less than stellar is also not a surprise considering that by the time you’ve finished writing the rest of the essay, you’re too drained and sick of your paper to be able to come up with something creative for the beginning.
Knowing how to write your introduction would significantly ease the burden on your brain when it does come time to write that last paragraph. I wish I could claim credit for sitting down and making a list of all the introductory techniques possible when it comes to writing an essay, but that claim to fame belongs to Judy Hilliard from San José State University. In 2006 Ms. Hilliard wrote and published a brilliant writing handout titled “Completing the Essay.” However, if you clicked on the link to that handout, you’d see that it is no longer available.
Luckily for you, when I first ran across the handout I printed it out and to this day I still have the hard copy of it. I was going to reproduce it here on my blog after requesting permission from Ms. Hilliard, but after running a search on Google for a few choice phrases from the handout, it appears that someone else has already beaten me to the punch.
Since I’m not greedy when it comes to internet traffic (I don’t care WHERE you get help for your writing, just that you do and that it is quality information), I am going to link to Dr. Hobbs’ reproduction of the handout. You can find it here on his blog post titled “Composition – Lead Ins that Hook Your Audience.”
Please, please, please take a look at that handout. It lists a total of 7 different techniques you can use for starting any writing project; it even includes an example of each technique so that you know exactly what each technique looks like in writing. This handout makes deciding how to begin an essay so easy that, when it comes down to it, you could literally just roll a dice to see which technique you’ll be using for each assignment.
I will be distributing the hard copy of this handout this year to my students, like I do every year, and I can only hope they’ll recognize its value and hold on to it for years and years to come, the way I have.