“At the close of the first World War, when I was a student at Cornell, I took a course called English 8.”
— from the Elements of Style, W.Strunk and E.B White.
The sentence above is from a book, Elements of Style, which you will find on almost all sleek writers’ desks. It is a self-guide on how to write well. But that is a bigger terrain than you may have imagined.
How about writing introductions that complement the work you have put into your thesis, essay or dissertation?
In this article, you will learn how to write great introductions and of course, we will start with the quote.
The Work of an Introduction
It defines the scope of the writeup. “This article will explain how to write powerful introduction” has given you an idea of what to expect in this article. But if you start the article that way, you will not sound creative enough and your readers might doubt you are going to bring something different to the table. Think about it, that’s what everyone is saying.
That brings us to the second importance of an introduction.
It binds. You make a connection with your tutor or reader that they have reasons to believe you.
Let’s go back to the quote.
“…When I was a student at Cornell, I took a course called English 8…”
Element Of Style is a book, from the cover page, that promises to teach and explain the simple elements of good writing. Now, here, the writer is saying… “I took courses (proof)… at Cornell (a good school, proof 2)… called English 8 (perhaps you have taken similar courses and you know how it goes, proof 3).
You want to keep reading to find out how that has helped in becoming a better writer. You are in. You are glued.
You are dealing with one of the sleek writers in the world and he has gotten your attention through his skill.
How To Write Your Introduction
1. Write Your Introduction Last
Some sleek writers would argue that you can write it first. Consider it a very rough draft. It is possible that the body of work might take you in new directions.
You want your introduction to completely justify what you have written. So if you write your introduction first, come back to it and rewrite or edit it.
Tip: write the first sentence again and again until it feels right.
2. Grab Your Readers
This one is a technique that you can achieve in different ways.
If you are climbing an elevator, and someone taps on your shoulder, you will turn to give the person your attention. If he grips you and pulls you back, he will also have your attention.
After he has your attention, your reaction depends on what he presents and who he is. If he is a stranger with nothing reasonable to say, you will frown. If he is your old buddy, smiling, you will smile.
Tip: if you grab the reader’s attention, follow it with meaningful arguments, write-ups, and points. You don’t want the reader to drop the paper after the first paragraph.
Here are proven ways to hold attention (it really doesn’t matter how you get it, but how you hold it after that.)
- Use statistics that show your topic is a serious one.
- Quote a professional. (Ensure to introduce the person later and that he or she is recognized in the field.)
- Identify certain misconceptions people have about your thesis or topic.
- Express simple background information on your topic or thesis. Don’t say too much because this is not the body of your work.
- Use anecdotes (if the paper permits it). The quote above is an example as E.B White goes ahead to tell us about his English professor, W. Strunk, who is hard on writing and using the language correctly.
- Define a term your audience isn’t familiar with, especially one that is important in understanding your topic.
If you follow the above advice, you are on your way to becoming one of the sleek writers around.
3. Write An Introduction That Is Proportional To The Length Of Your Work
Sleek Writers know that the introduction’s length should be reasonable as long as the main length of the work. If your work is 100 000 words long, a 4,000-word introduction may not be a bad idea. But be careful not to write 1000 words introduction for an essay of 5,000 words. The main thing is to know why you are using more words to introduce your work.
The main reason for longer introductions is that your work is long and complex. If that isn’t the case, cut it.