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Revising

9.4.1 Introductions

When you look over the draft of your paper, the first thing you should focus on is your introduction. Whether it is one paragraph or an entire chapter, the purpose of the introduction is to grab your readers’ attention and make them want to know more about your subject. Does it? Make sure you draw your readers in from the beginning and follow with relevant and interesting supportive information. If readers aren’t intrigued from the very beginning of the piece, they will quickly become distracted or bored and avoid reading any further. Read your introduction to a friend and judge how compelling it is based on his or her reaction.

What is the difference between a good and a bad introduction? A bad introduction is misleading, rambling, incoherent, boring, or so hopelessly vague that you know less about the topic than you did before you read it. On the other hand, a good introduction gets to the point, gives the reader a reason to keep on reading, and sets the stage for a really exciting performance. An introduction is like a first impression; it is crucial to your image and, once presented, you never get a second opportunity. Your essay’s introduction is your reader’s first impression of your ability as a writer. Even if you are brilliant and have great ideas, a muddy or boring introduction will turn away many of your readers.

Make sure that you don’t beat around the bush in your intro. If you have tedious openers such as “in today’s society” or openers that merely relay what the assignment is, change it so that it instead states your argument up front and presents a clear thesis right away, then subtly describe your paper’s overall structure. Try summarizing every paragraph into one sentence each, then put them all together to see if your introduction covers each point. Your introduction should state the issue at hand, establish your position regarding it, describe your paper’s organization, and identify the scope of your coverage. Let’s take each of these in turn.

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Expression and Inquiry by Chris Manning, Sally Pierce, and Melissa Lucken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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