Writing an Introduction
The purpose of the introduction is to set up your ENTIRE paper. If your introduction is
unfocused, or unclear, it makes reading the rest of the paper rather difficult. The one thing you
must remember is that your introduction should go from the very general to the very specific –
the most specific thing being the claim/thesis/argument. This draws the reader in and gives
them context for understanding your argument.
The reason you use a hook is to catch the readers’ attention, and also to get them thinking. You
can open your essay with a shocking fact or statistic, a story, or a general statement about life –
all of these can draw the reader in.
Note: AVOID “rhetorical questions” in your hook sentences.
Example of what NOT to do: Have you ever had a struggle in your life? (This invites the reader
to answer “no” and move on.)
Example of what TO do: Life is a continual struggle, but for some it can be harsher than for
After you have given the reader the general statement, you slowly want to turn their focus to the
point of the paper. Don’t assume the reader will understand how the hook connects to the claim
– explain it to them.
Example: Most people struggle on a daily basis, but it is what comes from this struggle that
pushes them to be individuals, and to focus their energy. Some people understand that hard
times are really just opportunities to become stronger, smarter, and more mature.
Now you’re ready for your claim, which should have been written before you started the
introduction. (Right?) Hopefully you’ve prepared your reader to see the connection between
your hook and the claim.
Example: In the novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Sherman Alexie uses his
characters’ alcoholism to show that life can be a constant struggle, but sometimes this struggle
leads to a discovery of strength.
It’s not hard to remember to include all three of these elements in an introduction, but it can be
difficult to do them well. If you have trouble writing an introduction, it might be that your
thoughts about the paper as a whole are unclear. This could lead to bigger problems down the
road – take the time to clarify your ideas at the beginning so that you’ll have it easier at the end.
Adapted from NLCP Collins Sophomore English Team