Effective introductions

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Introductions are like “funnels” --- broad at the top and more specific and focused as they go down.

Checklist for a Properly “Funneled” Hook Introduction

  1. Use an outside idea hook: a short story, question, quote or background that is a broader application of your thesis.

  2. Comment on the relevant message of your hook: what is the idea behind this short story, question, quote or background?

  3. Transition and connect to the text and topic of the paper

  4. State your thesis

Four Good “Outside Idea” Hook Funneling Techniques
The following four techniques are good ways to open an essay. They allow the writer to meet his or her goal of beginning the essay by providing the reader with a more general sense of his or her topic and its relevance. This portion of the essay should have NO specific references to the literary text. For the demonstration of each of the following techniques, pretend that your end thesis is:
Pulling weeds is a good recreational activity for teens because it gets them outdoors, provides exercise, and gives a feeling of productivity and satisfaction.

1) Anecdote: Provide a short story (from current events, history, or everyday life) that briefly discusses the topic. The story should be no more than a couple of sentences.

While the early morning sun was just touching the tops of the trees, a young girl energetically pushed a lawn mower across her front yard, leaving a neat stripe of felt-like grass behind her. Some friends passing by laughed and pointed, but she just waved as the smile across her face grew bigger. Like so many other teens, she had discovered that yard work can be very fun.
2) Question: Ask a general, rhetorical question about the topic. Note: you should provide a general answer for the question soon, and be careful of asking too many questions in a row.

Does lawn mowing have to be a terrible and torturous chore? There are thousands of teens across the nation who are discovering that lawn mowing and other outdoor chores can actually be quite fun.
3) Well-Known Quotation: Introduce a single relevant and easily-understood quotation, using some introductory words to ease the reader into your essay (that means your essay should NOT begin with the opening quotation marks). Unless your quotation is one you’ve personally committed to memory, you will need to add a parenthetical citation. You will need to comment on the message of your quotation, leading the reader smoothly to your thesis.

Inventor Thomas Edison once said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” (Quotesite.com). In Edison’s estimation, people underestimate the importance and value of tasks that seem “everyday” and mundane. Pulling weeds, a task that often falls to the teenager in the household, is not a particularly glamorous undertaking. Yet it does offer some distinct mental and physical benefits.
4) Background Information: Give some background information about the topic. While this information should be supportable with facts and data later, in the introduction it should not be too specific and should not give away too much. If it isn’t information you have memorized, you should cite your source using a parenthetical citation.

For decades, people have felt that mowing the lawn was a boring and taxing chore to be avoided for as long as possible and then dealt with quickly. In fact, in a 1977 poll run by Teen Weekly, 96.5% of teens polled said that mowing the lawn was “odious” (Teenstats). However, recent developments in mowing technology, as well as a different attitude toward exercise, have changed the perception of outdoor chores for many teens. Similarly, attitudes towards pulling weeds have changed.


RESTATE YOUR THESIS: Your conclusion should begin with an effective restatement of your thesis. Make sure you include the title and author of the work, your three supporting points, and include an action verb like “suggests”.

THEN TRANSITION…you are going to be ending your paper by either returning to your funnel idea in the introduction or discussing the general implications of your argument on the larger society. If you plan to end by discussing similarities to your funnel idea or society today, consider the following transition words: Just as, Similarly, Likewise, In the same way, As well as. To show contrasts, try the following transition words: Conversely, On the contrary, In opposition to, In contrast to, However,

COMING FULL CIRCLE and REFLECTING: refer back on your funnel idea from the introduction. For instance, if you begin the paper with an observation, then conclude by referring back to it and reflecting on it in a way that brings both the observation and the paper to a logical conclusion.


REACHING BEYOND THE “World of the Novel”: Move beyond the analysis of the text to focus on the general implications of your argument on society. What does all of this mean in a larger sense, especially outside the world of the novel?



In a Boston speech, the Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. stated that, “A man is usually more careful of his money than of his principles” (“Quotes on Integrity”). Despite the fact that Holmes delivered this message close to a hundred years ago, society has not changed. Many Americans today care more about their bank accounts than their behavior. The discussion of the relationship between money and conduct is not a new one, nor is it isolated to just American society. The conduct of characters in Great Expectations, a novel set in England during the 1800s, also illustrates the relationship between money and behavior. In Great Expectations, Charles Dickens suggests that people of the lower social classes are the better models of decorum. Dickens shows this through Pip’s reaction towards Miss Havisham, Joe’s behavior towards Pip, and Drummle’s lack of character.



(Thesis)The novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens emphasizes that people with less money are better models of behavior. In the novel, Joe, a member of the lower class, behaves more appropriately than members of the upper class like Miss Havisham or Bentley Drummle. In contrast (transition word, difference), Oliver Wendell Holmes pronounced money, not behavior, as the area of concern for most people regardless of their social class (return to funnel idea in intro). Perhaps it is time for people of every social class to stop checking their bank statements and start scrutinizing their behavior (reflection).
REACHING BEYOND THE “World of the Novel”

(Thesis)The novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens emphasizes that people with less money are better models of behavior. In the novel, Joe, a member of the lower class, behaves more appropriately than members of the upper class like Miss Havisham or Bentley Drummle. However (transition word, difference), money, not manners, has become the “great expectation” of American society today (reaching beyond novel to discuss society today). Unfortunately, standards of behavior have declined to the point that most people, regardless of social class, fail to exhibit propriety on a regular basis. (general implications of argument on society today)

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