Grabs the reader's attention and makes them want to read further. It throws out an enticing lure in hopes that they will bite. A good introduction:
A good introduction: • Sets up the reason for the paper. Start with background, history or other general information that demonstrates why the question the paper will attempt to answer is an important and necessary one. Help the reader understand why they need to follow you through your thought process by getting their attention in an area that is relevant to them.
A good introduction: • Is easy to read. Keep it simple. Complicated theories and terms can be delved into later in the paper. Save the detail for later.
To sum it up: • Consider these guidelines in writing your first draft of your introduction. Don't agonize over it too much, because you are coming back to it later. Write the body of your paper. Look at your introduction again. Do your conclusion, then come back and finish up your introduction. At this point, you will have your arms around your topic, and you can do your final edit. Don't skip any of these steps. A paper is only as good as its introduction, and the time you spend on it will pay off in the end.
Examples of Bad Introductions • Slavery was one of the greatest tragedies in American history. There were many different aspects of slavery. Each created different kinds of problems for enslaved people.
The Place Holder Introduction • When you don't have much to say on a given topic, it is easy to create this kind of introduction. Essentially, this kind of weaker introduction contains several sentences that are vague and don't really say much. They exist just to take up the "introduction space" in your paper. If you had something more effective to say, you would probably say it, but in the meantime this paragraph is just a place holder.
Webster's dictionary defines slavery as "the state of being a slave," as "the practice of owning slaves," and as "a condition of hard work and subjection."
The Webster's Dictionary Introduction • This introduction begins by giving the dictionary definition of one or more of the words in the assigned question. This introduction strategy is on the right track--if you write one of these, you may be trying to establish the important terms of the discussion, and this move builds a bridge to the reader by offering a common, agreed-upon definition for a key idea. You may also be looking for an authority that will lend credibility to your paper. However, anyone can look a word up in the dictionary and copy down what Webster says - it may be far more interesting for you (and your reader) if you develop your own definition of the term in the specific context of your class and assignment. Also recognize that the dictionary is also not a particularly authoritative work -- it doesn't take into account the context of your course and doesn't offer particularly detailed information. Dictionary introductions are also ineffective simply because they are so overused.
The Dawn of Man Introduction • This kind of introduction generally makes broad sweeping statements about the relevance of this topic since the beginning of time. It is usually very general (similar to the place holder introduction) and fails to connect to the thesis. You may write this kind of introduction when you don't have much to say--which is precisely why it is ineffective.
Frederick Douglass wrote his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, in the 1840s. It was published in 1986 by Penguin Books. He tells the story of his life.
The Book Report Introduction • This introduction is what you had to do for your fifth-grade book reports. It gives the name and author of the book you are writing about, tells what the book is about, and offers other basic facts about the book. You might resort to this sort of introduction when you are trying to fill space because it's a familiar, comfortable format. It is ineffective because it offers details that your reader already knows and that are irrelevant to the thesis.
Examples of Good Introductions Consider the hummingbird for a long moment. A hummingbird’s heart beats ten times a second. A hummingbird’s heart is the size of a pencil eraser. A hummingbird’s heart is a lot of the hummingbird. JoyasVoladoras, flying jewels, the first white explorers in the Americas called them, and the white men had never seen such creatures, for hummingbirds came into the world only in the Americas, nowhere else in the universe, more than three hundred species of them whirling and zooming and nectering in hummer time zones nine times removed from ours, their hearts hammering faster than we could clearly hear if we pressed our elephantine ears to their infinitesimal chests. Brian Doyle, “JoyasVoladoras,” The American Scholar
Houdini didn’t die in the water torture cell. He didn’t have a mother fixation. And he wasn’t just a great showman. Eventually, all legends get cluttered by apocryphal stories, and the legend of the greatest professional master of deception is no exception. Much of what has become his story is fabrication. Ironically, the real story is better. Kalush and Sloman, Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero
Gets your interest with the exciting legends and then tells you there are even more exciting things to come.
“There is only one topic throughout all England,” wrote W.T. Stead in the Pall Mall Gazette on October 1, 1888, and that topic was the Whitechapel murders of Jack the Ripper. Judith Walkowitz, City of Dreadful Delight
Use of a vivid quotation • Creditable source
A few days after September 11, 2001, newspapers carried an interview with the wife of a passenger who died on the flight that lifted out of Boston for Los Angeles and, fifty-one minutes later, slammed into the World Trade Center. Her husband’s business, she said, had led him to take this flight regularly, once or twice a month. His routine was to rise early, drive to the airport, check in, take his seat, and promptly fall asleep until nearing his destination. That day his destination was a fireball ninety stories above lower Manhattan. The grieving wife told reporters: “I hope that’s what he did on September 11. I hope he just went to sleep and never realized what happened.” Reading this story, I found myself remembering the day nearly two decades earlier when I had to put a price on the last six seconds of the lives of two airplane passengers.
And some examples of literary analysis intros Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness (1899) is under attack. Cited as a vilely racist work by detractors, the book has been misused and misrepresented as racist and pro-imperialist work. Yet this sentiment is fundamentally ill-founded. The racist tendencies of the book are apparent in a modern context, but when viewed from the sociological structure of Europe in the early 1900's, this classification fades in relevance.
Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment poses an interesting question about the origins of criminal behavior - is the environment responsible for a person's actions, or does the desire for crime originate from within? Russian critic D.I. Pisarev believed the former. He theorized that Raskolnikov's "dire poverty" was the cause of his heinous actions, and because of this Raskolnikov is forced to choose murder and robbery in order to "keep his body and soul together." While Pisarev is correct in that the atmosphere in Saint Petersburg contributes to Raskolnikov's crimes, he fails to note that Raskolnikov himself shares responsibility.
In the middle of a miserable narrative told to an indifferent creator, Frankenstein’s monster grasps his hair and rends his clothes in agony, an agony born from the knowledge that he will never be like man, that his very nature bars him from any meaningful intercourse with the “beautiful creatures” that he sees every day around him. “I was not even the same nature as man…When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, then, a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned?” (101). Born in agony, the longed-for and yet hated child of a diseased mind, the fiend belongs neither to the race of man nor to the beasts of the woods. He instead occupies a liminal position, always searching for, but ultimately failing to find, a third level where his dual nature will be recognized as a legitimate state of being. Writing thirty years after Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus (1818) was published, American writer Julia Ward Howe takes advantage of this trope of monstrosity developed by Mary Shelley and uses it to create the lovely hermaphrodite Laurence, a man who struggles with his own monstrosity and his own fruitless search for acceptance.
South African writer J.M. Coetzee’s writing is known for dissecting the themes of alienation, racism, disgrace, and torture. He has been lauded for documenting and, in his own way, speaking out against such social problems. But the ills human visit upon other humans are not the only evils Coetzee is concerned with. To date Coetzee has written three books that deal with the issues of animals in a human world: The Lives of Animals (1997), Elizabeth Costello (2000), and Disgrace (2005). In Disgrace, Coetzee seamlessly melds together the plight of animals and humans, calling attention to the parallel lives humans share with animals and the inadequacy of human empathy. Disgrace calls attention to the importance of animals in a human world as David Lurie, the protagonist of Disgrace, is lead by his relationships with animals to a better understanding of himself and humanity and gains a faith and grace his life had been lacking. Coetzee’s particular brand of animal rights allows a world where humans can only reach their full potential through a sympathetic mingling with animals, where our moral health depends on acknowledging the value of others.
Why Titles Matter • The goal of writing anything is to have it be read. A little elementary? Perhaps, but judging by the lame titles people create, maybe it isn’t so elementary. A title is a lure. It’s the hook of any article, book or paper. A good one will draw a reader in; a weak one will have that reader turn the page, move on to the next shelf and click the next link.”
Titling tips • Readers should immediately understand what your paper is about. • A title should appeal to the reader’s emotions. • A good title should be ultra-specific, unique, and useful to your ideal readers.
“Brief Interviews” or “Brief Interviews with Hideous men” "How to Get Rid of a Computer Viruses“ or "You've Been a Naughty Computer, Haven't You?” “Victor Frankenstein is a Villain” or “The Monster is the One in the White Lab Coat”