02 - Introduction Paragraph

The introduction paragraph is a writer's first impression.  A great introduction can convince the reader that a composition is worth reading and can encourage continued engagement.  A poor introduction can cause the reader to dread what follows or, worse yet, to stop reading.  It is in the introduction paragraph that the writer sets the stage for the discussion that follows; foreshadows the conclusion that is to come; and most importantly, introduces the thesis--the contract with the reader.  Many students find it difficult to write a quality introduction paragraph.  The following can ensure that your introduction paragraph accomplishes its objectives.
  • prepare your complete thesis statement before writing your introduction paragraph
  • use the language in your assignment as a model for what to include in your introduction
  • define or explain any terms, places, or people in the assignment
  • give background on the topic, author, or work
  • include your thesis sentence
Including The Thesis Statement
Beginning the writing process with a top notch thesis statement is critical.  While it is not necessary to begin your paragraph with your thesis sentence, you must include your thesis in the introduction paragraph.  Many times, the thesis statement can be an effective way to end the introduction--placing it just before the final sentence or even at the very end.  This writing guide contains a page dedicated to the development of a proper thesis sentence.

Starting The Paragraph
Starting an essay can be the most difficult task to complete.  Since the first sentence of your introduction paragraph is critically important, some students find it to be nearly impossible to begin.  While there is a nearly infinite number of ways to begin a paragraph, if you are struggling to start, a fool proof way to begin is found in your assignment.  Begin your paragraph by defining, explaining, or giving background on the main topic of the assignment.  For example, if the assignment is...
Write a character analysis of the Big Bad Wolf in the "Three Little Pigs"
...you are given two easy options for starting your paragraph.  I could begin with background on the beloved nursery rhyme, "The Three Little Pigs", or I could give background on wolves in general or The Big Bad Wolf specifically.  Consider the following possibilities:
While the wolf is a close relative to the domesticated dog widely known to be man's best friend; in many works of literature like the classic fairy tale, "The Three Little Pigs", the wolf's insatiable appetite, deceitfulness, and physical strength combine to represent the type of predator of whom children should be wary.
Loved by many,"The Three Little Pigs" may be the most widely read and recited fairy tale--entertaining and teaching valuable lessons to children for countless generations.
In the first example, the sentence focuses on the wolf while the second focuses on "The Three Little Pigs".  Either is a valid approach.  Since the assignment was to write a character analysis of the Big Bad Wolf, the first example is the most direct of the two approaches.  The second is a good starting sentence; however, it must be followed by other sentences which eventually take the reader to the main topic, The Big Bad Wolf.  Perhaps, the second sentence would elaborate on some of the lessons commonly associated with the story, and the third would segue into a lesson related to the wolf such as "children, beware of predators".

Supporting Sentences