Tag Archives: writing an introduction

New Printable: Writing an Introduction & a Conclusion

17 Jan

Hot off the presses – a new printable. If you’re having trouble writing an introduction and/or conclusion, check out these formulas.

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Writing an Introduction: The Hook, Part 2

16 Nov

Just a Few Avenues to Explore…

There are any number of ways to write a hook & if you keep pushing yourself with the questions from this post, you’ll undoubtedly find your way. But just in case you’re still struggling…

— Remember: your hook MUST be related to your topic, regardless of which method you use.

* Interesting Anecdote/Story
Ray Bradbury’s nightmare isn’t full of robots but rather of men who play a dangerous game with their toys.

* Thought-Provoking Quotation
“I don’t think the robots are taking over. I think the men who play with toys have taken over. And if we don’t take the toys out of their hands, we’re fools.”

* Startling Statistic/Interesting Fact
“69 percent of children aged 2-5 can use a computer mouse, but only 11 percent can tie their own shoelaces.” Or better yet, put the statistic into your own words. More young children today can use a computer than dress themselves.

* Descriptive Image
Small, glowing lights flicker in the faces of the dazed children, their heads bowed down at the same angle. Barely audible clicks reverberate off the dusty books. It’s just another day in the library where more attention is paid to phones than to books.

* Succint, Powerful Statement
Kill your television.

* Leading Question
How is the pathway to happiness and equality paved by burning books? This leading question would work for an essay that analyzes Beatty’s motivations. NOTE: If using a question  make sure it is NOT one that can be answered with a simple yes or no response.

The Writing Center is open from Mon-Fri 2:30-4:30pm. You can sign up in the Library – main counter – or email me a day/time at lincolnwriting@gmail.com

An Essay Writing Tool

1 Nov

I’ve been posting a lot lately about the various elements of an essay starting at the pre-writing stage to writing and revising the rough draft. I’m also in the middle of breaking down the two hardest paragraphs of an essay – the introduction and the conclusion. For the introduction, you’ve got the hook and the map. The conclusion posts will come next week.

In my research for the above posts, I came across a handy-dandy online tool – the Essay Map. It’s a plug-and-play model and not one that you’ll want to count as spitting out a final draft but in terms of organizing your ideas and argument, it looks pretty good.

Has anyone used this tool before? Or do you have a recommendation for something better? Let us know in the comments.

Writing an Introduction: The Map

31 Oct

The introduction is essentially the map for your entire essay but since the hook and the thesis statement have a unique role to play, the bulk of your introduction will function as the directions for your entire paper.

THE CONTEXT

Also referred to as background, this part of your introduction should be 1-2 sentences ONLY. The context sentences are going to provide the larger framework and/or the significance of the topic at hand. Looking back at the assignment and paying special attention to the content requirements and the verbs should be all you need to write this section.

THE MAP

These next 2-4 sentences (this number is entirely dependent on the length of the paper and the instructions from your teacher; if in doubt, ask) are the beginning of the thread of your argument and therefore, can be difficult to write. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating – do NOT write your introduction or conclusion until you’ve completed the rest of your paper.

The context and the map will undoubtedly blend but it’s important to note the distinction. The map section will be YOUR take on your subject. You’ll want to let the reader know how you intend to discuss or analyze your topic.

 

“A good introduction will:

 show that you are going to answer the question or complete the task
 show that you understand the issues and their implications
 show how you are going to do this by indicating the structure of your answer and making clear the main areas that     you are going to write about (your plan).
 show evidence that you have carried out some research by making a reference to one of your sources
 be totally relevant
 be concise: 8-9% of the total number of words is usually recommended (eg 120 words in a 1500 word assignment).”

The Writing Center is open from Mon-Fri 2:30-4:30pm. You can sign up in the Library – main counter – or email me a day/time at lincolnwriting@gmail.com

Writing an Introduction: The Hook

29 Oct

Once you’ve completed the bulk of your essay, it’s time to tackle the introduction and the conclusion. These are the two parts of the essay that students tell me they have the toughest time with so I’m  going to spend some time breaking down each one into their specific parts.

What is the point? Why do we need to have an introduction?

Many students have asked me these questions (or some form of them) over the years and the answer is simple: the introduction provides a map of your entire essay. We can’t get to our destination (the conclusion) without knowing which roads to take (body paragraphs).

Even though the introduction will likely be the smallest paragraph (not a hard & fast rule so don’t quote me), it is comprised of several parts. Today’s post will be dedicated to the hook.

THE HOOK

The hook is a sentence or two that’s going to draw your readers in and make them want to keep reading.

Imagine if Fahrenheit 451 started off with something like “It’s the future and books are outlawed and sometimes get burned?” Yikes, that’s terrible!

“It was a pleasure to burn” is simple yet complex and sets the stage for the entire novel. A perfect hook.

Because the hook does provide a framework of sorts, it’s best to wait until you’re done (or close to done) with your paper before writing your hook.

Let’s start with some simple DONT’S

– Don’t use a definition. I know it can be tempting to start off an essay with “Dystopia is defined as a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression,disease, and overcrowding or book-burning as in Fahrenheit 451.” But really don’t. It’s been done & done again and while a definition does help provide a framework, a definition is not going to sound like you because, well, it isn’t.

– Don’t be obscure. Yes, your teacher will know that you’re writing about Fahrenheit 451 but you’ll still want to be clear, even in your hook. Stay away from sentences like “The big plot point is that Montag changes his mind about books.” Yawn, right? Plus for someone that’s never read the novel, this sentence will make absolutely zero sense.

– Don’t be obvious. On the flip side of the above is being too obvious. Ignore the want to write something like “The novel is about book burning and the effect of that on society.” While (kinda sorta but not really) correct, obvious sentences are boring and simplistic.

– Don’t go back in time. Stay within the parameters of your topic as much as possible. Offering up sentences like “When Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440, he couldn’t have imagined that a society may consider burning books.” It can be an easy go-to to reach back in time in an attempt to connect your argument to a larger concept but be careful in doing so; you will always want to remain relevant to your topic.

Those are the basic don’ts though the list can certainly be expanded. Do you have any other don’ts when it comes to writing hooks?

Now that you know what to avoid, let’s work on…

CRAFTING THE HOOK

Write down the answers to these questions:

1) What is the most interesting thing about your paper?

2) What did you learn about the subject that you didn’t know before writing this essay?

3) Did you discover anything shocking or controversial in your analysis of the subject?

If you don’t yet see a hook (or an idea for a hook) emerging, then ask someone else to read your paper and have them answer these questions.

Once you’ve distilled your paper down to the most interesting elements, you now just need to decide how to craft it. Check out the possible ideas here or here.

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