Introductory Paragraph- Catch our Attention & Introduce your Argument

Watch this brief introduction:

As stated, the introductory paragraph of a 5-paragraph essay should follow this general outline. Each listed component is at least one sentence:

  • Hook (more information and examples below -- keep reading!)
  • General Info About Topic (include title, author, and a little about the characters)
  • Thesis Statement (for this essay, you already have it! Copy and paste it again!)
  • Three Supporting Points and Transition

The Hook

The opening of an essay is crucial. Your opening sentence should grab the reader’s attention and make her want to continue reading.The hook should let the reader know something about where the essay is going, while piquing his curiosity about how it will get there. It should start to lead us toward the thesis, too, so craft one that somehow relates to your overall argument.

Here are some examples of hooks that grab a reader’s attention:

1. The Striking Statement. SHOCK your reader with a sentence of great impact:

“Friends are our worst enemies.”
“T. H. White’s Arthur is not a hero at all.”
“Holden Caulfield needs his mouth washed out with soap.”

2. The Question. Ask a meaty question and supply an answer that becomes the thesis of your essay:

“Why do we remember the evil characters more readily than the peacemakers?”
“What causes romantic attraction?”

3. A Definition. Yours, not Webster’s:

“A human parasite is a person who habitually takes advantage of the generosity of others, giving nothing in return.”
“Bravery, cleverness, and compassion make someone a hero.”

4. The Split. Divide the world into two contrasting types:

“In life, there are two kinds of people: the heartless ones and the compassionate ones.”
“Some people work for a living; others inherit everything they need. Character X fits into neither group.

5. Make a Metaphor or Simile. Make it one that sets up an intriguing comparison to spark the reader’s interest -- and explain it directly afterward!

“Finny is the popcorn in the movie theater of life.”
“Hatred is like a roll of Saran Wrap.”

6. Create a Question in the Reader’s Mind. Cause the reader to ask: “Hey, what’s going on?” by creating a little suspense or a bit of curiosity in her/his mind.

Hooks are fun, but sometimes your best hook will come to you later on. Still, come up with something for now, and then keep mulling over the best way to grab a reader's attention!

Here is a sample introductory paragraph. Please notice the hook (1st sentence), background info (2nd and 3rd sentences), thesis (4th sentence), and transition/3 supporting points (5th sentence):

"For never was a story of more woe, / Than this of Juliet and her Romeo" (5.3). William Shakespeare closes his play Romeo and Juliet with the above lines. Part of the reason why this is considered such a tragic story is that Romeo and Juliet did not have to die. While Romeo and Juliet can be faulted for their youthful impetuousness, they are not ultimately to blame for what happens to them. Shakespeare's young lovers are, indeed, "star-crossed" victims of circumstances beyond their control. Romeo and Juliet were not responsible for their families' feud, they suffered from not having parents who were involved in their lives, and they received advice from the Friar which wasn't right for their situation.

Here's yet another example, written by a former student to introduce on essay on Macbeth, another play by Shakespeare. Please notice the hook (1st sentence), background info (2nd sentence), thesis (3rd sentence), and transition/3 supporting points (4th sentence):

Tyranny -- the control of power by a cruel, unjust, and absolute ruler -- arises, argues the philosopher Plato, when three conditions are all met: greed, ambition, and fear. In William Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth, Lord Macbeth usurps power by killing his king, his best friend, and his associate's family members, seizing greater and greater control until he is hated and feared as a despotic tyrant. While Macbeth's greed and ambition are necessary conditions which contribute to his acts of tyranny, it is his increasing fear which makes him desperate and thus leads to his most tyrannical and power-hungry deeds. This essay will explore the limits of Macbeth's greed and ambition, describe and analyze his fears, and show that it is his fears which create his desperation and thus his ever-increasing desire for absolute power.

Last modified: Thursday, 14 June 2012, 4:19 PM