In the Beginning...

Writing an Engaging Introductory Paragraph

Studies have shown that breakfast is the most important meal of the day; choosing your food poorly (or skipping it all together) could have a negative impact on the rest of your day. In the same way, your introductory paragraph may be one of the more important parts of your essay. While it will not contain many specific details about your topic, it is what sets the tone for entire essay. The Introductory Paragraph is composed of three major elements: the hook, background information, and your thesis (which with papers for this class will also include a roadmap for your essay).

Creating Your Hook

A hook (also called a grabber) should be the first sentence or the first few sentences of your essay. This sentence should be on topic and find a way to intrigue the reader (me) and make them want to finish reading your essay. If you are struggling with creating a hook for your essay, watch the video below to gain some ideas.
How to write a hook

Providing Background Information

Ahh! Background information - the easiest part of the introductory paragraph. Here, what you need to focus on is the who, what, when, where, and how of your essay topic (the why will be covered in your thesis/roadmap). Avoid going into too much specific detail here, that's what your body paragraphs should contain. Spend about three sentences(ish) giving the reader an overview of information they would need to know for the essay to make sense. For example, if I were writing an essay on "How did the Black Death impact European society?" I would need to include basic information on the Black Death to the reader. I could write, "The Black Death (what) spread to Europe (where) from Asia along trade routes (how) in the 1330s and 1340s (when). This devastating disease would indiscriminately kill 1/3 of Europe's population (who) before the disease faded away."

Writing Your Thesis/Roadmap

This sentence is the most important statement in your paper. Your thesis should address the question provided with the assignment, provide your opinion, and give reasons.

Remember, you should be assertive and one-sided in your thesis statement. Saying "I think" or "I believe" makes you sound unsure and lack confidence in your writing. You also want to avoid giving both sides of the argument in your essays ("fair and balanced" is for the media). If the reader doesn't think you're sold on the argument, why should they be?

When you give your reasons at the end of the thesis statement, you'll want to follow that order in your paper. For example, if I said, "The First Amendment is the most important amendment because it protects an individual's freedom of religion, speech, and assembly." Sorry petitioners and members of the press - I only needed three reasons. My first body paragraph should discuss why the freedom of religion is so important, my second body paragraph should address the freedom of speech, and my final paragraph should explain why the freedom of assembly is so important.

Still want some more help writing your thesis statement? Check out the video below:

How to write a thesis statement in 4 minutes.