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Writing an Effective Introduction for Informative 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 informative writing, make sure you write a thesis statement that contains your topic and  list your three to five reasons, all in one sentence.

But you donít want to start your essay with the thesis.  Provide a background; set a scene.  You may need background information that generally deals with the issue  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 informative essay ( a newspaper article) about what items you should bring on an exploration of another planet.  Your introductory paragraph might contain the following  thesis statement:

"On the trip to the planet Zerax  __(name)___________will bring only clothes, a weapon, and construction tools."

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 2001 the group Destiny's Child sang, "I'm a survivor, I'm not gonna give up."  That is exactly the phrase that 500 explorers  to the planet Zerax will face every day for the rest of their lives with only three survival objects from their home planet.  "On the trip to the planet Zerax  __(name)___________will bring only clothes, a weapon, and construction tools."

  3. Begin with an anecdote or very brief story.
  4.      The American explorers Lewis and Clark forged the wilderness of early America to find a land suitable for the growing population.  Although the trip was dangerous, the decisions they had to make about their supplies were equally as hard.  Mistakes could result in hunger or starvation, or injury and death.  The materials they possessed were sometimes the key to survival in a hostile world.  "On the trip to the planet Zerax ___(name)_______ will bring only clothes, a weapon, and construction tools."

  5. Begin with a startling or interesting fact.

     According to a recent data America throws 438,000 tons of garbage into its landfills every day.  We are living in a disposable world that is quickly filling with the waste of our busy lives.  At this rate we will run out of  clean room, clean water, and clean air faster than we ever thought possible.  One solution is the recent expedition to the distant planet Zerax.  Here a population of 500 people will try a lifelong experiment in repopulation.  __(name)___ is one of the people chosen for this trip which allows them to take only three items to this new world.  "On the trip to the planet Zerax ___(name)_______ will bring only clothes, a weapon, and construction tools."

 

  1. Begin with an analogy to something else.
  2.      Most of us wouldn't think of what we would want if deserted on a desert island, but that is just what 500 people are about to do when they travel to the newly found planet Zerax.  Just like the survivors of a terrible wreck they will be forced to live from the land and salvage what they can for supplies.  The difference is that these explorers will not be looking for rescue in their lifetime, but possibly for their children.  "On the trip to the planet Zerax ___(name)_______ will bring only clothes, a weapon, and construction tools."

  3. Begin by posing a question.

     What do you think of when you say you are having a bad day?  Is it that you overslept and feel hurried through your day?  Or is it worse because you have fallen or risked your life battling traffic?  Or maybe it is even worse; do you find it harder to walk down your street and feel safe?  These may be difficult, but they are nothing like the problems faced by the 500 explorers on their mission to the planet Zerax.  "On the trip to the planet Zerax ___(name)_______ will bring only clothes, a weapon, and construction tools."

   6.    Use imagery

     Imagine raging rivers that have no bridges.  Picture cold winter nights with no fire.  Theorize what it would be like if you were injured in the middle of nowhere.  Now imagine living with these conditions for the rest of your life.  That is just what 500 people are about to do when they travel to the newly found planet Zerax with only three items for survival.  "On the trip to the planet Zerax ___(name)_______ will bring only clothes, a weapon, and construction tools."

7.  Word or Theme

     "Survival".  Is this concept still a part of every day life for modern man?  Can we compare traffic woes to foraging for food?  Is it a matter of survival or taste when we build our shelters and select our cothing?  The decisions we make everyday for OUR survival will differ from ___(name)_____.  "On the trip to the planet Zerax ___(name)_______ will bring only clothes, a weapon, and construction tools."

 

 

After you are done with your rough draft, look at your introduction. All you should have is your 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 thesis? Add this lead into your final draft, which is due ___________.

Copyright 2002, Michael D. Mulgrew, mrmulgrew.com. Printed with permission, all rights reserved. Duplication is limited to a single copy for personal use only.


"Take me home?"