In academic writing, the toughest moment is to start writing the paper. You open a blank page and keep staring at it for some time and do not know how to compose the first sentence. In many cases, students are distracted from the main topic and present generalized ideas in the first sentences or are too focused on one single side of the issue. It is extremely challenging to compose up-to-the-point sentences in an introductory paragraph that will give a general overview of the topic and will refrain from discussing the issue in detail, which should be done in the next paragraphs.
Elements of Writing Introductory Paragraphs
An introduction is the key paragraph in any paper. While reading this part, a reader should have a feeling that this topic is worth exploring. Do not present any arguments in the paragraph. Check the major elements that constitute an introductory paragraph:
- Attention-grabber: A writer should justify his/her choice of the topic and prove that the paper is worth reading. You should be rather enthusiastic in your claims, so that the reader will clearly see that you were interested to discuss this topic. If you state that something is rather puzzling and confusing in the topic, the reader will think the same way.
In any introductory paragraph, you should be specific and discuss only relevant ideas. Try to avoid any logical mistakes that will confuse the reader. Always re-read the topic and check if your introduction relates to the chosen subject matter.
- Thesis statement: No matter what topic you explore and what purpose of writing is, you should always present a thesis statement in the end of introduction. It should not be long and it usually takes one sentence only. Remember that a thesis statement should include as many parts as your main body is concerned.
For example, if you are going to discuss political, social, and economic influences of poverty, then your main body will include three paragraphs with respective topic sentences. Do not be ashamed to present your own standpoint in a thesis statement because this sentence should reflect your personal understanding of the topic. Be as specific and clear as possible.
- Preview writing: Some teachers say that composing an introduction is similar to creating a road map of ideas. Readers should clearly comprehend your ideas and understand what you seek to discuss. Your introduction should not resemble a bunch of ideas that do not have any connections. If the reader does not have the slightest idea about what the objectives of writing are or how you will organize your main body paragraphs, you are definitely working in the wrong direction. Do not think that it is obligatory to present ideas that the reader will approve. If you think that the reader might disagree with you, go ahead and try to prove your standpoint in the thesis statement.
Avoid Common Mistakes
- Check if your introduction does not include any logical fallacies. Do not present any generalizations referring to ideas of all people. You do not know what all people think about your topic and should refer to opinions of those researchers that you came across while reading relevant sources.
- Be specific. If you mention a word “war,” the reader might think that you will discuss military operations. If you plan to explore poverty, you can mention war as one of its causes, but far not always poverty comes down to wars. Developed countries live peacefully, though they do not experience any wars.
- Do not use too many quotations. They can take no more than 10% of the overall word count. The reader should see your perception of the topic, and presenting too many examples will distract him/her from your personal opinions.