Proper intro

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A Proper Introduction

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Things NOT to do in an introductory paragraph: * Apologize. Never suggest that you don't know what you're talking about or that you're not enough of an expert in this matter that your opinion would matter. Yourreader will quickly turn to something else. Avoid phrases like the following: In my [humble] opinion . . .
I'm not sure about this, but . . . * Announce your intentions. Do not flatly announce what you are about to do in an essay. In this paper I will . . .
The purpose of this essay is to . . .
Get into the topic and let your reader perceive your purpose in the topic sentence of your beginningparagraph. * Use a dictionary or encyclopedia definition. According to Merriam-Webster's WWWebster Dictionary,
a widget is . . .Although definitions are extremely useful and it might serve your purpose to devise your own definition(s) later in the essay, you want to avoid using this hackneyed beginning to an essay. * Dilly-dally. Get to it. Move confidently into your essay. Many writers findit useful to write a warm-up paragraph (or two, even) to get them into the essay, to sharpen their own idea of what they're up to, and then they go back and delete the running start. |

The following material is adapted from a handout prepared by Harry Livermore for his high school English classes at Cook High School in Adel, Georgia. It is used here with his permission. |

Students aretold from the first time they receive instruction in English composition that their introductory paragraphs should accomplish two tasks:
1. They should get the reader's interest so that he or she will want to read more.
2. They should let the reader know what the writing is going to be about.
The second task can be accomplished by a carefully crafted thesis statement. Writing thesisstatements can be learned rather quickly. The first task — securing the reader's interest — is more difficult. It is this task that this discussion addresses.
First, admit that it is impossible to say or do or write anything that will interest everybody. With that out of the way, the question then becomes: "What can a writer do that will secure the interest of a fair sized audience?"
Professionalwriters who write for magazines and receive pay for their work use five basic patterns to grab a reader's interest:
1. historical review
2. anecdotal
3. surprising statement
4. famous person
5. declarative
What follows is an explanation of each of these patterns with examples from real magazine articles to illustrate the explanations.
1 Historical review: Some topics arebetter understood if a brief historical review of the topic is presented to lead into the discussion of the moment. Such topics might include "a biographical sketch of a war hero," "an upcoming execution of a convicted criminal," or "drugs and the younger generation." Obviously there are many, many more topics that could be introduced by reviewing the history of the topic before the writer getsdown to the nitty gritty of his paper. It is important that the historical review be brief so that it does not take over the paper.
from "Integration Turns 40" by Juan Williams in Modern Maturity, April/May, 1994.
The victory brought pure elation and joy. It was May 1954, just days after the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. At NAACP headquartersin New York the mood was euphoric. Telegrams of congratulations poured in from around the world; reporters and well-wishers crowded the halls.

[After reaching back forty years ago to bring up the landmark Supreme Court decision that started school desegregation, this article discusses school segregation in the present time.]
2 Anecdotal: An anecdote is a little story. Everyone loves to listen...
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