Grissom's Grammar and Composition

This blog is for any student writing papers for college, for current and former students in my Communications Cluster at Lindenwood University, and my students at St. Charles Community College.

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I write for myself, for the web, and for everyone who gets me. I've been on a fasting liquid diet, traveled to Europe, and raised 2 kids. And I'm directionally challenged - I get lost a lot.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Eight Introduction Techniques that Hook Your Reader

The introduction of your paper draws your reader into the topic and encourages them to continue reading. Here are eight methods you can use to hook your reader and keep them reading.Caution: Be sure to ask each instructor if he or she requires your thesis to be in the first paragraph after your introduction technique. Some instructors allow it at the end, but some prefer it in the first paragraph.

1) Tell a Story
We like reading about people more than ideas or issues. Your audience will connect with your topic if you show them how it affects real people. If you are writing about plastic surgery for teens, tell me about Jessica’s nose job and I will read on to find out how it turned out.

2) Describe Something
Help us see the topic by using your senses to describe something about it. Seeing people, organizations, or events can connect us with the subject. For example, if your paper is on prison reform, you could start with a description of the prison conditions you are protesting.

3) Use a Quotation
Find a well turned phrase about your subject to get your audience’s attention. For example, Mark Twain said, "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." This might be a jumping off point for a discussion of book censorship. Check out Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations for ideas on your specific topic.

4) Use a Surprising Fact or Statistic
If you run across a surprising piece of information when writing or doing research, chances are it will surprise and interest your audience also. If you tell us half of all women will have heart disease, we will be interested in what your topic has to say about cardiovascular care. Show us something we didn't know, and we will conclude you have more information that may be valuable.

5) Go for Common Ground
This method works especially well if you are writing an argument paper. If you can find something both sides agree on, remind them of that common belief at the beginning and they will be more willing to listen to your side. Discussing an education issue? The majority of your audience will want students to get a good education, so start with that common goal and show how your issue connects to better learning.

6) Ask a Question
Asking a question makes your audience think about your issue; just make sure to answer the question in your paper. You don’t have to have the best answer, but you should fulfill the promise you made in asking the question by contributing your opinion. Writing about Internet censorship? Ask us what the Internet will look like in ten years, and then talk about your issue’s impact.

7) Start With a Controversial Thesis
If your thesis is controversial, start the paper with it. If you suggest reinstating the draft or eliminating Social Security, your reader will be curious enough about your provocative position to keep reading.

8) Provide Background Information
If we need a brief history to understand your topic, then give us the background – but only what we need. Some students use background information as space filler and bore themselves and their instructors with unnecessary background details. If you're writing about stem cell funding, a brief definition and explanation of their use might be in order, but we don’t need to know how they were discovered, or what cells are.

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