Winning an Argument Starts from the Beginning!
The beginning of your essay is vital to drawing your reader into your narrative. In an argument essay, your position (or thesis) must be clear. And, as with all essays, you want to keep your readers interest. If you make us snooze, you’ll lose.
Stating the central idea (from “Writing an Introduction for an Essay” by Dr Deng Xudong, Centre for English Language Communication < http://www.cdtl.nus.edu.sg/success/sl25.htm>
The central idea or thesis statement in an essay introduction is the most important part of the essay and is thus indispensable. The thesis statement is usually one or two sentences long and tells the reader what the whole essay is going to be about.
A thesis statement can be direct or indirect. A direct thesis statement gives a specific outline of the essay. For example, one of my students (in his essay entitled ‘The Qualities of a Successful Technopreneur’) wrote the following thesis statement: “The three core qualities that a technopreneur must possess to be successful are vision, a never-say-quit attitude and an innovative mind.” This sentence tells the reader what the essay is going to be about (i.e. the qualities a technopreneur must possess in order to succeed) and provides a structural outline (i.e. that the essay will comprise three main parts, each portion respectively covering one of the three qualities mentioned).
In an indirect thesis statement, no such outline is provided; however, the reader will still know what aspect of the topic the essay is going to discuss. For example, on the same topic, another of my students wrote this thesis statement: “In today’s rapidly changing technology market, only technopreneurs who possess certain qualities will succeed while those who do not will falter and fall in the battlefield.” From this sentence, the reader can still expect the essay to talk about some qualities of a successful technopreneur; but he/she will neither know exactly which and how many qualities the essay will cover, nor predict how many parts the writer will discuss in the main body paragraphs. The suspense given by an indirect thesis statement sometimes gives the reader a good reason to read on.
Once aware of the three features of an essay introduction and some of the options for the presentation of each feature, students can experiment with different options to see which one(s) creates the best effect for each essay.
Write TWO different intros to your argument essay once your outline has been approved. One should be a DIRECT APPROACH, the other the INDIRECT APPROACH. As always, there are many devices to get you thinking on how you want to do this. See page 85 in your Models for Writers book for additional details.
Some common strategies used to attract the reader’s interest to an essay are: Relate a dramatic anecdote, expose a commonly held belief, present surprising facts and statistics, use a fitting quotation or dialogue, ask a provocative question, tell a vivid personal story, define a key term, present an interesting observation, create a unique scenario, or use an analogy or comparison.