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Effective introductions do two basic
things--grab the reader's interest and let the reader know what is to come. This is why
effective introductions usually incorporate the thesis statement and lead up to
that statement with one of a variety of hooks. The hook you select will have
a lot to do with the purpose of the essay you are writing. The following are a
variety of techniques you can use as hooks in your introduction.
Information Power/Writing Effective Introductions*
One of the problems that many writers face is how to get their readers to feel that the information or opinions presented are pertinent or relevant to their readers. Using startling statistics can help solve that problem. Many people feel that any number of life's crises cannot or will not happen to them. Bad things happen to other people--not us. Making startling statistics personally relevant can open readers' minds to the possibility of tragedy hitting home and , thus, make readers more receptive to your message. For example, stating that "four billion people are diagnosed with HIV" is startling; however, stating that in any given college classroom, statistically "one in every four students will be diagnosed HIV positive," is a much more personally relevant statistic. They are the sort of statements which make one stop and ponder--and want to read more.
Drawing upon the insightful words of famous writers or other celebrities can prove an effective way to get a reader's attention. By borrowing upon the credibility of the world renowned, a writer's own credibility is enhanced. Using a quotation lead can help enhance a writer's credibility and/ or connect readers with the familiar. Both of these benefits help writers to hook readers, getting them to read on. However, in order to be effective, a writer must select a well known quotation or one which is particularly insightful. Saying "Joe Blow said..." just doesn't cut it.
Sometimes in order to accept the information the writer is presenting, the reader must understand the historical context or significance of that information. Knowing one's audience is necessary in order for a writer to know whether or not this type of lead could be effective. Many historians and scientists and other academicans find a historical perspective fascinating; however, many general audiences could get bogged down and lose interest before the author's thesis is even stated. Just be careful not to get so wrapped up in the background that you forget what you originally wanted to say.
*Author: Maple Woods Community College Writing Center, Kansas City, MO
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