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An introductory paragraph begins with a broad hook to catch the reader's attention.  A hook should never tell the reader exactly what the essay is about.  A writer can grab a reader's

attention in a variety of ways:

     1) with a generalization--a generalization makes a broad statement about people, life, or the world.  This broad generalization should somehow relate to the overall topic of the essay.

          example: Americans love to drive their cars.

     2) with a common misperception--a common misperception is a false broad statement about people, life, or the world.  This common misperception should somehow relate to the overall topic of the essay.

          example: Americans think that the only way to get to work is alone in their cars.

     3) with a fact or statistic--a fact or a statistic makes a provable statement that relates to the overall topic of the essay.

          example: Every day, millions of people around the country get into their cars and drive alone to work.

     4) with a question--a question engages the reader by encouraging him or her to answer.  Typically, the word you does not belong in a formal essay, but the word you  is generally accepted in the hook.

           example: How much time do you spend in an average week alone in your car?

     5) with an anecdote--an anecdote is a very short story that relates to the overall topic of the essay.  An anecdote can be in the first person (I, we), the second person (you), or the third person (he, she, they). 

     Typically, unless an instructor calls for it, first and second person do not belong in a formal essay; however, first and second person are generally accepted in the hook.

           example: Every day, I sit alone in my car and get stuck in traffic on my way to work.  While my car crawled along yesterday, I looked around and noticed that every other car had only one person in it.

     6) with a quote--a quote consists of memorable words that someone else, often famous, once spoke.  The quote quote should relate to the overall topic of the essay.  The quote must give credit to it's speaker.

           example: Steven Wright once proclaimed, "I had to stop driving my car for a while... the tires got dizzy.


After the hook, an introductory paragraph needs a bridge that transitions into the thesis statement.  The content of the bridge depends on the hook used. The sentence after the hook will somehow address the hook.  As the bridge progresses, the reader might be able to guess where the essay will go. 


A well-written bridge will naturally lead to a clear and explicit thesis statement that tells the reader exactly what the essay is about.

           


An introductory paragraph can be visually described by an upside down triangle with a broad hook, a transitioning bridge, and a narrow thesis.

The hook grabs the readers attention.

The bridge transitions.

The thesis tells the reader exactly what the essay is about.

    Introductory Paragraphs

A well-developed essay will begin with an introductory paragraph.  An introductory paragraph has three parts: hook, bridge, thesis.