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Opening Paragraphs. Start out with a WOW!. Definition. The opening paragraph in a conventional essay or composition .

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opening paragraphs

Opening Paragraphs

Start out with a WOW!

  • The opening paragraph in a conventional essay or composition.
  • The primary purpose of an introductory paragraph is to attract the reader's attention and identify the topic and purpose of the essay. A thesis statement typically appears at the end of an introductory paragraph.
some common introductory patterns
Some Common Introductory Patterns
  • Begin with a general subject that can be narrowed down into the specific topic of your essay.
  • Begin with specifics (a brief anecdote, a specific example or fact) that will broaden into the more general topic of your essay.
  • Give a definition of the concept that will be discussed.
  • Make a startling statement.
  • Start with an idea or statement that is a widely held point of view, and then surprise the reader by stating that this idea is false or that you hold a different point of view.
introductory paragraphs in essay exams
Introductory Paragraphs in Essay Exams
  • "Do not give any supporting information in your introductory paragraph. That will come later. Keep this paragraph simple. On an essay test, especially, it is better to write one powerful sentence than to write several that are weak and wordy. In any event, do not write more than just a few sentences. You really do not want to spend too much time on this paragraph; move as quickly as you can into the main part of your answer.“

(William H. Peltz, Dear Teacher: Expert Advice for Effective Study Skills. Corwin Press, 2007)

example of opening s
Example of Opening ¶’s
  • "Working part-time as a cashier at the Piggly Wiggly has given me a great opportunity to observe human behavior. Sometimes I think of the shoppers as white rats in a lab experiment, and the aisles as a maze designed by a psychologist. Most of the rats--customers, I mean--follow a routine pattern, strolling up and down the aisles, checking through my chute, and then escaping through the exit hatch. But not everyone is so dependable. My research has revealed three distinct types of abnormal customer: the amnesiac, the super shopper, and the dawdler."
example of opening s1
Example of Opening ¶’s
  • "The music was composed as a drinking song for an 18th-century London social club. The words were written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key to commemorate a battle. And on March 3, 1931, "The Star-Spangled Banner" officially became the national anthem of the United States. Ever since then, people have been complaining that the tune is unsingable and the lyrics are offensive. In response to these complaints, a bill was recently filed in Congress to replace "The Star-Spangled Banner" with "America the Beautiful" as our national anthem. For a number of reasons, this bill deserves wide support.“

(Shelby Wilson, "Time for an Anthem the Country Can Sing")

introductory paragraphs observations and recommendations
Introductory Paragraphs: Observations and Recommendations
  • Many writers find writing an introduction a difficult way to start the process and instead work through the body and conclusion first. . . .“Since the introduction gives an overview of your paper, an introduction is naturally easier to write once you have developed your line of thought. Writing, or at least revising, your introduction as a last step gives you an opportunity to incorporate upfront the insight that you gained as you worked through the body and conclusion of your paper.“

(Dona J. Young, Writing From the Core: A Guide for Writing. Writer's Toolkit Publishing, 2009)

1 st sentence should engage
1st sentence should engage
  • Think of your first sentence as a hook that draws your reader in. It is your big chance to be so clever that your reader can’t stop.
  • As you researched your topic, you probably discovered many interesting anecdotes, quotes, or trivial facts. This is exactly the sort of thing you should use for an engaging introduction.
consider these
Consider these:
  • Surprising fact:The pentagon has twice as many bathrooms as are necessary. The famous government building was constructed in the 1940s, when segregation laws required that separate bathrooms be installed for people of African descent. This building isn’t the only American icon that harkens back to this embarrassing and hurtful time in our history. Across the United States there are many examples of leftover laws and customs that reflect the racism that once permeated American society.
  • When my older brother substituted fresh eggs for our hard-boiled Easter eggs, he didn’t realize our father would take the first crack at hiding them. My brother’s holiday ended early that particular day in 1991, but the rest of the family enjoyed the warm April weather, outside on the lawn, until late into the evening. Perhaps it was the warmth of the day and the joy of eating Easter roast while Tommy contemplated his actions that make my memories of Easter so sweet. Whatever the true reason, the fact is that my favorite holiday of the year is Easter Sunday.
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton once said that “There cannot be true democracy unless women's voices are heard.” In 2006, when Nancy Pelosi became the nation’s first female Speaker of the House, one woman’s voice rang out clear. With this development, democracy grew to its truest level ever in terms of women’s equality. The historical event also paved the way for Senator Clinton as she warmed her own vocal chords in preparation for a presidential race.
introduction in outline
Introduction ¶ in Outline

Title (subject of Outline)

  • Introduction

A. Attention Getter (Hook)

B. Background/concession

C. Thesis (blue print opt)

  • 1st point of blue print

A. Transition sentence/topic sentence

finding the hook
Finding the Hook
  • In each example, the first sentence draws the reader in to find out how the interesting fact leads to a point. You can use many methods to capture your reader’s interest.
  • Curiosity: A duck’s quack doesn’t echo. Some people might find a deep and mysterious meaning in this fact …
finding the hook1
Finding the Hook
  • Definition: A homograph is a word with two or more pronunciations. Produce is one example …
  • Anecdote:Yesterday morning I watched as my older sister left for school with a bright white glob of toothpaste gleaming on her chin. I felt no regret at all until she stepped onto the bus …
end with a good beginning
End With a Good Beginning
  • Once you complete a first draft of your paper, go back to re-construct your introductory paragraph. Be sure to check your thesis statement to make sure it still holds true—then double check your first sentence to give it some zing.