Creating a rock-solid beginning
EXCELLENT Attention-getters are…
1. relevant and appropriate (leads reader to topic of the thesis)
2. interesting (NOT “Since the beginning of time…” or “Authors often use symbolism
to enhance their stories”)
3. sufficiently developed (if you give a quote, explain it afterwards; if you give an analogy or
anecdote, build it up with details).
Types of Attention-getters: (see separate handout for explanations & examples of each)
1. Incident/Anecdote 2. List of Examples 3. Analogy 4. Quotation
5. Background 6. Description 7. Definition
* Avoid starting with a question; although effective in speeches, they are rarely so in essays.
A song that quickly took the spotlight on popular radio in 2004 was Green
Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.” In the lyrics, the writer Billie Joe Armstrong
says, “I walk a lonely road, the only road that I have ever known [.…] My shadow’s (anecdote /
the only one that walks beside me.” Although the tune was catchy, what made the quote)
song so popular was how so many listeners could identify with the sentiment
expressed in the lyrics: even in crowds, people feel alone. Similarly, this loneliness Link (Similarly)
is captured tragically in Steinbeck’s novella Of Mice and Men. In this story, Steinbeck
uses the isolation felt by 1930s ranch workers to portray loneliness as a major Thesis &
problem with the human condition. He shows this through the mental disability of Points
Lennie, the physical handicaps of Candy, and the racial isolation of Crooks.
Directions: Using the previous example and the one in the sample essay given you, thoroughly develop
an attention-getter and link for one of the following thesis statements.
1. In the novel Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury uses Clarisse to open Montag’s eyes to the flaws of his society
and readers’ eyes to the flaws of their own.
2. Ray Bradbury uses his novel Fahrenheit 451 to act as a warning to society about the effects of
technology on society.
3. In the novel Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury uses Montag and Mildred’s relationship to show the
potentially dangerous effects of technology on human relationships.
Write on a separate sheet of paper. This should be as polished as a final draft.
Use the back of this paper to pre-write (brainstorm, etc.).
So, how should I start?
1. Determine the topic of your thesis statement
Thesis: In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald uses figurative language to enhance character traits
and underscore the inevitability of Gatsby’s demise.
Topic: the power of language, the importance of character traits
Thesis: In Spiderman 2, director Sam Raimi uses the weather to clarify the mood of his scenes.
Topic: weather, mood
Thesis: In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee uses the symbolism of the mockingbird to show
that human beings can be cruel without cause.
Topic: human cruelty
2. Brainstorm your outside knowledge of the topic (***the best ideas are often ones to which you
have some kind of personal connection)
a. Do you have any personal knowledge of the topic? If you are talking about social classes in
The Great Gatsby, what are the signs of social classes at Elk River High School? Have you ever
been discriminated against?
b. Do you know any movies/famous stories related to the topic?
c. Search Google for quotes “social class quotes” (be sure to get an author’s name!)
d. What do you know about the background of the book or the topic?
3. Choose a type of attention-getter, and start writing one! You can always revise!