dmin Category: Academic Writing Skills
Endro Dwi Hatmanto, MA
The first paragraph in an essay is called the introductory paragraph. Without an introductory paragraph, your essay may start too abruptly. So you need to write a proper introductory paragraph. Here are the tips:
UNDERSTAND THE AIMS
The aim of introductory paragraph is to lead readers to the subject of your essay in an interesting way and show them that reading your essay is worth their time. In other words, the purpose of the introductory paragraph is twofold; to get the readers’ attention and to introduce the subject of the essay to them.
UNDERSTAND THE GUIDELINES
There are several guidelines for writing a good introductory paragraph. First, your introductory paragraph must be relevant to the topic; that is, it should not introduce material not covered in the essay. Second, it should not preview the points that will form the body of the essay. Third, there should be at least two sentences before the thesis statement. In other words, the introductory paragraph should be a minimum of three sentences. Fourth, the thesis statement should come at the end of the introductory paragraph.
BE FAMILIAR WITH THE TYPES OF INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH
There are many ways for you to get readers’ attention in an introductory paragraph. For of the most common ways are anecdote, facts or statistic, historical introduction and general to specific.
TIPS TO WRITE AN INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH USING ANECDOTE
Anecdote is a brief story that illustrates your topic. You can either base this anecdote on your experience or invent a story about someone else. See the following example:
My younger brother was a good student until our parents got divorced. Then, while my parents’ lives became a war zone over property and emotions, my brother withdrew into himself and feel abandoned and unloved. He needed to feel that he was a part of something. That’s when he got involved with a gang at his high school. The gang he joined became his family and was more important to him than anything. My parents didn’t notice until my brother got badly hurt in a gang fight. I am convinced that gangs are a direct result of the breakdown of the traditional family.
The teenager hated to be at home. His parents were always fighting. His mother was on drugs, and his father was an alcoholic. He felt totally alone at home, but when he was with his fellow gang members, he felt as if he belonged. He loved being with the members of his gang and would do anything for them and with them. This all-too common example illustrates why I think that gangs are a direct result of the breakdown of the traditional family.
TIPS TO WRITE AN INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH USING FACTS AND STATISTICS
Another way to introduce your essay is with interesting facts or statistics. To write this type of introduction, you need to be aware of generally known information. You can expand your knowledge of facts and statistics by carefully reading newspapers and journals. Look at the following example:
It is estimated that there are nearly 5, 000 gangs in Indonesia with a total of almost 250, 000 members. In fact, in inner cities, where gangs are most common, 7 percent of all teenagers are gang members. Why are all these young adults choosing to be gang members? In my opinion, gangs are a direct result of the breakdown of the traditional family.
TIPS TO WRITE AN INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH USING HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION
You may also choose to write a short historical introduction. Naturally, this is not meant to be a comprehensive account; it simply provides general historical background. Learn the following example:
Gangs have existed in Indonesia for at least 100 years. At the turn of the twentieth century, there were many gangs in the big cities in Indonesia. These gangs were mostly made up of members of the same ethnic group and primary protected the neighborhood where their families lived. Nowadays, however, gang members have little to do with protecting their relatives. It’s my belief that gangs are a direct result of the breakdown of the traditional family.
TIPS TO WRITE AN INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH USING GENERAL TO SPECIFIC STRATEGY
Now let us talk about general to specific introduction. This is perhaps the most common type of introduction. It starts with a general statement of the larger topic, and then each sentence narrows it down until you get the specific thesis statement. See the following sample:
It is difficult to grow up in this society. A teenager can get into all kinds of trouble with school, smoking, drugs and dating. One of the worst kinds of trouble that a teenager can get into is getting involved with a gang. Gang members commit crimes and get hurt or killed all too often. With do teenagers get involved in gangs? I think that gangs are a direct result of the breakdown of the traditional family.