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Writing an Effective Introduction for Persuasive Essays

There are many ways to introduce an essay. Whichever way you choose, you need to make sure that your introduction includes a thesis statement. A thesis includes the main idea that the rest of the essay will explain in more detail. For persuasive writing, make sure you write a  Three-part Thesis Statement that contains your topic, position, and three to five reasons, all in one sentence.

But you donít want to start your essay with the thesis. That would be like barging into your bossí office and asking for a raise. You need to introduce the topic; maybe reminding your boss who is responsible for all of the success in the office, before you ask for that raise. Provide a background; set a scene.  You may want to write the rest of your essay first and then go back and add your lead before your thesis.  This method works well for many students.

Imagine that you are going to write a persuasive essay about why we should have Physical education class every day. Your introductory paragraph might contain the following  Three-part Thesis Statement:
"Barnstable High School students should have gym everyday because it would promote strong bodies, healthy minds, and would relieve the stresses of high school life."

It is a great thesis statement, but it needs something before it to introduce the reader to the subject and to capture their interest. It is called a "LEAD" Look at some of the following types of leads placed in front of our thesis.

  1. Begin with a quotation or proverb.
  2. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy said, "We are under-exercised as a nation. We look instead of play. We ride instead of walk. Our existence deprives us of the minimum of physical activity essential for healthy living." His words concerning the Presidentís Physical Fitness Program still echo decades later; too many people are not as healthy as they would like to be simply due to the lack of time. "Barnstable High School students should have gym everyday because it would promote strong bodies, healthy minds, and would relieve the stresses of high school life."

  3. Begin with an anecdote or very brief story.
  4. Herman was a scrawny little seventh-grader who was always getting teased. When he came back to school for eighth grade, we could hardly believe he was the same person. He had bought some running shoes, weights, and spent the summer in a disciplined training program. Now he has muscle and a new confidence in himself. Although Hermanís transformation was dramatic, anyone can benefit from a program of regular exercise. "Barnstable High School students should have gym everyday because it would promote strong bodies, healthy minds, and would relieve the stresses of high school life.

  5. Begin with a startling or interesting fact.

    Studies show that a large percentage of American teenagers are out of shape. An out -of-shape teenager is likely to become an out-of-shape adult and be a higher risk for all kinds of diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. However, a childhood marked with a poor start can be reversed; starting an exercise program at any time can help put a person on a path of lifelong good health. "Barnstable High School students should have gym everyday because it would promote strong bodies, healthy minds, and would relieve the stresses of high school life."

  1. Begin with an analogy to something else.
  2. Nobody would think of going to school without getting dressed and doing all the other needed hygienic tasks in our daily ritual. In the same way, exercise can be built into our daily routine so that it becomes virtually automatic. The benefits of incorporating exercise into our daily lives are great. "Barnstable High School students should have gym everyday because it would promote strong bodies, healthy minds, and would relieve the stresses of high school life."

  3. Begin by posing a question.

            Do you ever feel as if you just drag through your day, that your arms and legs are six inches too long, or your head feels like it is the size of a watermelon? You probably think that more work would just make you more tired, but a good workout, such as a brisk walk or a few games of racquetball, can actually help you feel more energetic. If you exercise regularly, you will see long-term advantages in your fitness as well as your outlook on life. "Barnstable High School students should have gym everyday because it would promote strong bodies, healthy minds, and would relieve the stresses of high school life."

   6.    Use imagery.

          There is a dent in your finger from hours of note taking.  Your book bag tearing at the seams from all of the weight.  You find that parts of your body fall asleep from sitting in school chairs.   If this sounds like you, then you may need some exercise.  "Barnstable High School students should have gym everyday because it would promote strong bodies, healthy minds, and would relieve the stresses of high school life."

   7.     Word, Theme, or Definition

            Muscle, tone, definition.  These descriptors should identify the health of most teens.  However, few people can naturally obtain this on their own.   As a nation, and a successful world leader, we must insist that every citizen be given the opportunity to learn how to be a healthy and productive member of society. "Barnstable High School students should have gym everyday because it would promote strong bodies, healthy minds, and would relieve the stresses of high school life."  

After you are done with your rough draft, look at your introduction. All you should have is your three-part thesis. Ask yourself which type of lead can you do for the introduction to this essay? What general information is needed to entice your audience before your specific three-part thesis? Add this lead into your final draft, which is due ___________.
2000, Michael D. Mulgrew, mrmulgrew.com. Printed with permission, all rights reserved. Duplication is limited to a single copy for personal use only.

 


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