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2 Tutorials that teach Introductions
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Author: Mackenzie W

Identify the elements of a strong introductory paragraph.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Hi, everyone. I'm MacKenzie, and today, we're learning about introductions. Do interesting facts, funny stories, or shocking statements grab your attention? In this tutorial, we'll learn about the basics of introductions. We'll discuss the components of introductions. And we'll talk about the hook of an introduction.

Let's first discuss basics of what an introduction actually is. The introduction is the very first piece of an essay or some other piece of writing. And it lets the reader know what to expect from the writing. Because it's the very first thing that the reader actually reads, it's important that the introduction be engaging to grab the reader's attention, thoughtful to keep the reader interested, and well-written so that we establish our credibility as a writer.

The important thing to know about introductions is that they don't have to be any particular length. For shorter compositions, they're usually about a paragraph, but they could be longer. It really depends on the nature of the writing itself.

We have to think about the purpose of the writing, the style in which we are writing, and the rhetorical situation of the piece of writing. We often think about the idea that because the introduction is first it should be written first. And that's a common mistake that writers make.

Writers get stuck when they think about writing the introduction first because they're not sure what to include. If you haven't written the rest of the paper, it's difficult to figure out how to introduce the paper to your reader. Keep that in mind when writing an introduction. It doesn't always have to be the first thing you write, although it is going to be the first thing your reader reads.

Now that we know what the basics of an introduction include, let's discuss the different components of a successful introduction. The most essential thing for an introduction to have is the topic of the piece of writing. You have to introduce the topic to the reader so that the reader knows what to expect from the rest of the writing.

Related to the topic could be some sort of conflict or controversy, depending on the topic of the writing itself. And this is a good time for the writer to introduce that into the writing. You have to let the reader know what the writing is going to be about. That's the purpose of the introduction. So we definitely include the topic in the introduction.

Related to the topic is our thesis statement, which was one succinct sentence that tells the reader exactly what the main point and the main statement or argument of the writing is going to be. We have to include the thesis so that the reader can understand what to expect when he or she reads that piece of writing and knows what important ideas to look for. We also may include some sort of logic or reasoning to let the reader know where we're coming from as a writer.

Again, it depends on the topic of the writing, but we want to let the reader know what the logic is behind the ideas we're going to present in our writing. Sometimes in order to demonstrate the logic or reasoning behind their arguments, an author will lay out an outline in terms of what we call a nut graph. This is when the author spells out all of the ideas in the introduction so that the reader can follow the ideas.

The author may say I'm going to tell you about this topic. Then I'm going to go into more detail about this idea and this idea as they relate to the topic. Then I'll tell you how they all combine together to equal this result. It's a very straightforward way of laying out the topics so that the reader can follow them.

Let's now take a look at an example of what a bad introduction would look like. This will help us to figure out what to avoid so that we can write effective introductions. In this example, the introduction reads, drinking diet soda is bad. In this essay, I will tell you why it's bad and explain why you shouldn't drink it.

The reason why this example is an example of a bad introduction is because, besides from introducing the topic of the writing to the reader, it doesn't do much else. It doesn't grab the reader's attention. It doesn't state a clear succinct thesis that tells the reader what to look for. And it demonstrates poor reasoning and poor writing skills. This introduction isn't written well enough to engage the reader or cause them to think much about the topic.

Using the same topic as our previous example, let's now take a look at what an effective introduction looks like. This introduction reads, drinking diet soda is like willingly ingesting poison. Misled by the zero-calorie beverages, consumers falsely believe that diet soda is a healthy alternative to sugary non-diet sodas. Although the non-diet sodas are not healthy, they are less damaging than the diet versions. Consumers should avoid drinking diet soda because the ingredients in diet soda cause problematic and oftentimes dangerous health concerns.

This is a much more effective introduction for this particular topic of drinking diet soda. The reason we know that this is a better example is because the first sentence grabs the reader's attention. The second sentence introduces the topic and lets the reader know what the writing is going to discuss and why. The last sentence is the thesis. It tells the reader exactly what the topic is, what the argument is, and why the argument is being made. It lets the reader know what to expect while reading this paper.

This example reads, almost anyone who ventures into public can likely describe a recent example of rude behavior he or she witnessed or perhaps perpetrated. This might include a man spitting on the ground next to a woman's foot, a group of teenagers using obscene language in a park, or even a mother tossing a dirty baby diaper out of her car window. The question is not whether manners are disappearing in the United States, but rather a question of why they are disappearing, and what can be done about it. The decrease in manners in the United States poses societal concerns and focus should be placed on improving manners.

We see that the writer is attempting to grab the reader's attention by providing a relatable anecdote or situation. The writer then introduces the topic, stating that it's not a question of whether or not manners are disappearing, but a question of what can be done about it. Then the writer moves on to the thesis. In this case, the thesis is located in the last sentence of the paragraph.

One of the goals of an introduction is to motivate or encourage the reader to continue reading the piece of writing. And excellent introductions will oftentimes include a hook, which is a tactic used to generate reader interest in the piece of writing. There are various ways to include a hook in an introduction. Here are some of them.

First, we could use a provocative anecdote or situation. This is when we tell an interesting story, or we give some sort of hypothetical or fictional or even true life situation to generate interest in the topic or relate to the reader. We could also use a compelling quotation. Quotations are useful, especially if there's no better way to say what you're trying to say in the writing. But you have to be careful about not using too many quotations because it can distract from the message you're trying to communicate. You want things to be in your own words.

We can also use a concession. This is typically used in argumentative writing. This is when we state that we acknowledge that there are other viewpoints that contradict our own viewpoint. This lets the reader know that we understand the nature of the topic. And we understand what we're arguing against.

We could use an interesting fact or statistic to gain the audience's interest. We could use an analogy in which we compare one thing to another, maybe in some sort of artistic way. And we could use a definition of a key term.

Be careful about this because when you're using a definition, it cannot simply be a dictionary definition. That's not interesting enough to gain your audience's attention. It needs to be something that is your own thoughts or some new idea. Give it your own spin to make it interesting so that the reader has motivation to keep reading.

Let's look at a few examples of what introductions look like using different types of hooks. The hook states drinking diet soda is like willingly ingesting poison. It's a very dramatic statement. And we're using an analogy to gain the reader's attention.

This hook states that almost anyone who ventures into public can likely describe a recent example of rude behavior he or she witnessed or perhaps perpetrated. In this instance, we're providing a provocative situation. We're relating to the reader. We're saying that this has probably happened to you. And the reader then become self-reflexive and thinks more about the topic.

The hook in this last example reads many Americans avoid swimming in the ocean for fear of sharks, having blood drawn, terrified of needles, and flying in airplanes, fearing a crash. This hook is an example of an analogy comparing these fears to a much larger threat, which is later discussed in the paragraph. The hook is effective because it grabs the reader's attention, and it's possible that many of the readers do have some of the fears discussed in the hook.

In this tutorial, we learned about the basics of introductions, different components of introductions, and we discussed the hook of an introduction. Always be sure to grab the reader's attention. I'm MacKenzie. Thanks for listening.