Introduction to Introductions

Writing the introduction paragraph is always my favorite part of any essay. A good introduction sets the tone and structure of the entire paper. Writing a strong, solid introduction sets your paper up for success.

Different styles of papers (i.e., analysis, narrative, research) call for different kinds of introductions. In general, the “funnel” introduction is the most common for papers involving literary analysis. As the name implies, the ideas start of broad and unspecific (like the top of a funnel). Each sentence afterwards becomes more and more specific until at last you reach the end of the paragraph: the thesis. The three major parts of a funnel introduction are 1) the hook, 2) the cone, and 3) the thesis statement.  

The Hook

The hook is the first sentence of the introduction. It serves to capture readers’ attention. Since the audience can be wide and diverse, a good hook must be broad enough to hook as many reader’s interests as possible. Although you may have been taught in elementary school to start off with a question, I suggest to think again. Weak questions can turn the reader off. For example: “Have you ever wondered about the existence of God?” is not a strong hook. What if the reader’s answer is simply “yes”? Questions, at least in the context of essay-writing, are meant to provoke thought; they shouldn’t be easily answerable.

The Cone

The cone is essentially the body of the introduction. It is comprised of all the sentences between the hook and the thesis. Starting from the sentence immediately after the hook, each sentence of the cone should become more specific, more detailed. Let’s say, for example, I am writing an essay comparing the works of Orwell and Huxley. I could start the cone by introducing each author. In doing so, I bring up the differences between the two. However, as I get more specific, I find a point where their theologies and writings converge. As I write about this point of convergence, I get closer to my thesis statement and the purpose of the essay: to, as aforementioned, compare samples of their writings.

The Thesis Statement

The thesis statement of an essay is the main point that the essay tries to prove. It should clearly answer all portions of the prompt and is best kept at the length of a sentence. Always make sure that your thesis is indeed a thesis, not a fact. A fact can not be disputed while a thesis is arguable. In illustrating this point, WSP director Layhannara Tep uses Harry Potter as an example. A bad thesis statement would be: “Harry Potter is a wizard.” This statement is inarguable, since everyone already knows that Harry is indeed a wizard. Any evidence from the text you are analyzing would support this fact. A good thesis statement would be something like: “Although he masks himself as a friend of the wizarding world, Harry Potter is actually an evil wizard, as shown in situations X, Y, and Z.”

I hope this guide to funnel introductions was helpful! (Note that not every kind of paper calls for a funnel introduction. Research papers, for example, usually skip the flowery stuff and simply start off with the thesis. Different professors may also ask for different kinds of introductions.) Since the topic of introduction-writing is so broad, it’s not possible for me to cover everything in a single blog post. If you ever need additional help, feel free to sign up for a one-on-one session with a WSP counselor! Good luck on your writing endeavors.

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