Tumblr Essay Introductions

Be Relevant

The reason that I want you to be relevant is simple--including current events makes a statement. A few months ago I did a paper on gun control and gun violence for my Violence & Society class and it was around the time of Sarah Palin's Donald Trump rally speech so I included the following in my paper:

We have a lot of gun violence, but is gun control the right way to go about this issue? Also what exactly does our 2nd Amendment right give us the right to? What about the Right-winging, bitter-clinging, proud clingers of our guns, our God, and our religion, and our Constitution that Sarah Palin was talking about? How does that fit into the gun violence debate?

The reason I love including current events in my introduction paragraph is because it ties the issues discussed in the reading to events happening in the now. Your professor will appreciate the injection (where appropriate) of more current stories into the papers that you write. Most of all it shows that you can make connections between what you are writing about and real life events. Especially in the liberal arts field, I believe that being able to make connections is important, because it shows that you can apply what you read and research to real life situations,

Be Humorous

Your professors are reading a lot of papers usually when they read for class, why not give them a little humor in your paper to make the time grading seem a little less harsh. In the example I gave above I definitely used humor in bringing up a recent event in the introduction of my paper on gun violence and gun control.

Humor is one of those topics that I feel is important when writing, but using the correct amount and type of humor is important. You don't want to be unnecessarily crude in your papers--after all this is a professional paper. Injecting a few funny words here and there is a great way to get on your professors good side.

This started out as a post for the IB, but I realised it can be applied generally as well.

General Tips:

  • If you get to choose your topic, choose one that you find genuinely interesting, as you will be much more motivated. It should also be a topic that you’re fairly familiar with. If you’re really stuck for ideas, look at example essays online (but don’t steal!).
  • Have a specific focus.
  • Keep a log of all of your references. Make sure that you’re referencing in the correct format.
  • Find out if there are any competitions or scholarship contests that you could submit your essay to.

Introduction:

  • Try starting your essay with a claim related to the title/question.
  • Have a sentence which defines your whole essay; give the reader and idea of what you’re going to be arguing. Try to get the reader interested in your essay so that they’re motivated to read.
  • Don’t use “I” or “My” (we were always warned against this).
  • Know what conclusion you’re coming to at the end.
  • Think of essay introductions as covering what/why/how:
  • What the question is about – explain your interpretation of the question and what it is asking you to do.
  • Why the question is important – put the question into context and identify the main issues that are raised by the question.
  • How you are going to answer it – let the reader know what you are going to cover in your essay in order to answer the question.

Body:

  • Provide example to prove your thesis write or wrong.
  • Develop the idas and arguments outlined in your introduction.
  • Each paragraph should have a topic sentence, which acts like a mini introduction. This should clarify what you’re going to discuss in that paragraph. If your topic sentence doesn’t match what you discuss in the paragraph then it will read confused.
  • Think of each paragraph like a small essay.
  • Keep your essay question/title in front of you while you’re writing; it will help you stay focused.
  • Don’t be too general.
  • Keep your paragraphs well structured. Don’t jump from one idea to the next; there should be a link between the paragraphs, they should be consecutive. Try to show the flow of your though. Again, if this goes wrong, your essay will appear confused. This is something that I found online about how to structure a paragraph (included as a photo for the colour coding):
  • Don’t just state your ideas; have evidence, analysis, and comments. Remember, you’re trying to convince the reader that you’re right!

Conclusion:

  • Reread your essay, and conclude your ideas; all of your points should lead logically to this conclusion.
  • Your conclusion should capture the essence of your essay. Summarise your main points, and relate them back to the question. Think about what the reader knows now that they didn’t know when they began reading.
  • Don’t introduce any new information.
  • Don’t include apologies about the incompleteness of your argument (e.g. If I had more time….) although you can include some limitations.
  • Don’t end your conclusion with a rhetorical question; it leaves the reader unsatisfied.

For tips about other aspects of essay writing, see:

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