Ten Introduction Techniques that Hook Your Reader
The introduction of your paper draws your reader into the topic and encourages them to continue reading. Here are nine methods you can use to hook your reader and keep them reading. For this assignment, choose THREE different techniques and write three different introductions to your Major Research Essay. This exercise is due on April 9th. You will bring a hard copy to class and upload it onto Blackboard before class begins.
1) Tell a Story
We like reading about people more than ideas or issues. Your audience will connect with your topic if you show them how it affects real people. If you are writing about plastic surgery for teens, tell me about Jessica’s nose job and I will read on to find out how it turned out.
2) Describe Something
Help us see the topic by using your senses to describe something about it. Seeing people, organizations, or events can connect us with the subject. For example, if your paper is on prison reform, you could start with a description of the prison conditions you are protesting.
3) Use a Quotation
Find a well turned phrase about your subject to get your audience’s attention. For example, Mark Twain said, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” This might be a jumping off point for a discussion of book censorship. Check out Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations for ideas on your specific topic.
4) Use a Surprising Fact or Statistic
If you run across a surprising piece of information when writing or doing research, chances are it will surprise and interest your audience also. If you tell us half of all women will have heart disease, we will be interested in what your topic has to say about cardiovascular care. Show us something we didn’t know, and we will conclude you have more information that may be valuable.
5) Go for Common Ground
This method works especially well if you are writing an argument paper. If you can find something both sides agree on, remind them of that common belief at the beginning and they will be more willing to listen to your side. Discussing an education issue? The majority of your audience will want students to get a good education, so start with that common goal and show how your issue connects to better learning.
6) Ask a Question
Asking a question makes your audience think about your issue; just make sure to answer the question in your paper. You don’t have to have the best answer, but you should fulfill the promise you made in asking the question by contributing your opinion. Writing about Internet censorship? Ask us what the Internet will look like in ten years, and then talk about your issue’s impact.
7) Start With a Controversial Thesis
If your thesis is controversial, start the paper with it. If you suggest reinstating the draft or eliminating Social Security, your reader will be curious enough about your provocative position to keep reading.
8) Provide Background Information
If we need a brief history to understand your topic, then give us the background – but only what we need. Some students use background information as space filler and bore themselves and their instructors with unnecessary background details. If you’re writing about stem cell funding, a brief definition and explanation of their use might be in order, but we don’t need to know how they were discovered, or what cells are.
9) Use the Inverted Pyramid or Funnel Technique
Start with broad information about a time, a place, an event, etc. and narrow a subset of the broader time, place, or event related to your topic.
10) Historical review: Some topics are better understood if a brief historical review of the topic is presented to lead into the discussion of the moment. Such topics might include “a biographical sketch of a war hero,” “an upcoming execution of a convicted criminal,” or “drugs and the younger generation.” Obviously there are many, many more topics that could be introduced by reviewing the history of the topic before the writer gets down to the nitty gritty of his paper. It is impo