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Writing Effective Introductions and Conclusions

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  1. Writing Effective Introductions and Conclusions Please copy down the 7 tips for Intros and 3 tips for Conclusions on the lovely bright yellow sheet I have provided you. You can use these handy tips on your in-class essay on Friday!

  2. Seven Tips for Effective Introductions 1. Do not merely rewrite the prompt: • Ok to use words that are in the prompt but make sure that your thesis does not merely parrot the prompt • EX - the 2006 prompt: Many writers use a country setting to establish values within a work of literature…Choose a novel or play in which setting plays a significant role. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the country setting functions in the work as a whole. • Ineffective Intro: Cormac McCarthy uses a country setting to establish values in his novel All the Pretty Horses. Those country values play a significant role in the work as a whole.

  3. Seven Tips for Effective Introductions 1. Do not merely rewrite the prompt Effective Introduction: In Cormac McCarthy’s novel All the Pretty Horses, the main character John Grady Cole lives for the values he believes the west Texas landscape exemplifies: unrestricted spaces, hard honest work, and an abiding connection to the land. However, after a life-threatening journey into Mexico he finds that coming to terms with the necessary violence of nature has forever altered his deep connections to his Texas homeland. • Unlike the ineffective introduction, this introduction identifies the “values” and provides specific direction for the essay.

  4. Seven Tips for Effective Introductions 2. Make sure that you include the title of the book and the author’s name BEFORE the thesis statement. • Be sure to underline the title of the novel/play you are discussing, or put the title of a poem in quotation marks! • If you include the title before the thesis, it is unnecessary to repeat the title in the thesis - that means you are wasting valuable minutes you could otherwise be spending analyzing the work.

  5. Seven Tips for Effective Introductions 3. Provide some context for your discussion - IT MIGHT HELP TO WRITE YOUR INTRO LAST! • The introduction is the place to quickly describe the most important characters and their relationships to give your reader context. • While a sentence or two of plot summary is acceptable in the introduction, more than that is a waste of time. • Besides dealing briefly with characters and plot, be sure to define important terms brought up by the prompt (ie “values” from 2006 prompt, satire from your Huck prompt)

  6. Seven Tips for Effective Introductions 4. Provide a thesis that is clear, concise and somehow responds to the prompt! • It is critical that you provide specific direction in your introduction, including the theme and the devices the author uses to get the theme across. • Always double check that your thesis directly relates back to the major concepts of the prompt, even if you are not stealing exact words from the prompt.

  7. Seven Tips for Effective Introductions 5. Avoid the “Carl Sagan” introduction. Instead, your hook should consist of an analogy, quote*, or significant statements about the author/subject • Carl Sagan, a renowned scientist and author, had a show in the ‘80s called “Cosmos.” In that show he would often say “For billions and billions of year, man has (insert whatever we have wondered about here)…” • Avoid this impulse to try to prove your thesis is important by claiming that it addresses some struggle that has been occurring for generations, and for the love of God, don’t use a rhetorical question as a hook!

  8. Seven Tips for Effective Introductions 6. Do not talk about “the reader” and the effect a passage may or may not have on “the reader.” • It is your task to discuss the effect a literary devise has within the given passage; do not discuss its “effect on the reader.” • The “reader” cannot make up his mind - he is fickle and borders on stupid • NO “reader” and definitely no “YOU”!

  9. Seven Tips for Effective Introductions 7. Avoid wild speculation and official judgment. • Do not speculate as to how a book may have been interpreted had not certain events occurred. • Unless you are asked to comment on the quality of a novel, which never happens on the AP exam, avoid singing its praise (ie Mark Twain’s brilliantly written masterpiece…) or dismissing it • Instead, comment on how effective the devices are in revealing the theme!

  10. Three Tips for Effective Conclusions 1. While restating your thesis, keeping common words works, but PLEASE change the phrasing around! • Readers notice if you simply copy your thesis verbatim and, while you might be running out of time, it is worth spending some extra seconds switching around your syntax. • EXAMPLE THESIS: Revealing the paradoxical tolerance of cruelty inherit in the Southern social order, Twain satirically characterizes Huck’s naiveté through colloquial diction and subversive irony. • How can this be restated without being too repetitive?

  11. Three Tips for Effective Conclusions 2. Do not spend more than a sentence summarizing the previous points from your body paragraphs. • Again, readers notice if you are simply copying your topic sentences verbatim and, if this is the final impression you leave the reader with, you are in trouble. • Do not stress about trying to re-word everything - it is permissible to use key terms from your introduction, but try to go deeper in your discussion of the devices and take this opportunity to really focus in on the theme.

  12. Three Tips for Effective Conclusions 3. Try answering the question “So what?” by relating the theme to contemporary society or including a tie-in to your introduction. • It is understandable that you might be short on time, but your conclusion will be much more effective in revealing your skill as a writer if you spend less time summarizing your previous points and more time taking the theme further. • If the theme is truly universal, it should be applicable to contemporary society. For example, can you think of a recent example of the cruelty of humanity? • And now for a good example of a conclusion relating to intro…

  13. In-class Huck Essay • You have the rest of the class period to work on your sentence outline due tomorrow. • Be sure to also bring in your Huck Style Analysis as this will also be turned in with the essay. • No writing the essay out ahead of time! (*cough* Bob *cough*) If you’ve completed the sentence outline, you should be plenty prepared and will only need to write the intro and conclusion and expand on the commentary in your body paragraphs.