Introductions and Conclusions ? Introduction Once you support a thesis, it will be easy to write the introductory paragraph. The introduction is similar to a personal introduction: readers form an immediate impression of an essay. If the impression is strong, readers are motivated to continue. Because you have one chance to make a first impression, make your introduction as compelling as possible. First, get your reader’s attention. According to Jane Aaron, writing in The Little, Brown Compact Handbook, several strategies are available to make a strong impression: Use a vivid opening quotation that relates to your topic. Present an idea your thesis refutes. Tell a brief story, relate an incident, or provide an anecdote. Offer a surprising fact or statistic. State an opinion related to your topic. Describe a problem or dilemma. (Aaron, 2001) Here is an introductory paragraph from The Introductory Paragraph that begins with a surprising fact and ends with an effective thesis statement: The pentagon has twice as many bathrooms as are necessary. The famous government building was constructed in the 1940s, when segregation laws required that separate bathrooms be installed for people of African descent. This building isn’t the only American icon that harkens back to this embarrassing and hurtful time in our history. Across the United States there are many examples of leftover laws and customs that reflect the racism that once permeated American society. (Fleming) In addition to grabbing a reader’s attention, the introduction has several purposes. The introduction must provide background information, define unfamiliar terms, convey the purpose, preview content, and contain a thesis statement. Remember not to begin your introduction by announcing your topic, such as “My paper is about global warming,” or referring to your essay’s title, such as “This is how to feed a boa constrictor.”
Conclusion Although you restate the thesis statement in the conclusion, you must do more. Your conclusion answers the question, “So what?” The conclusion must stress the thesis statement’s importance, offer new connections or broader implications, provide the essay with a sense of completeness, and leave a final impression. Just as the introduction is your first opportunity to make an impression, the conclusion is the last impression readers have. Some ways to conclude your essay are to restate the thesis, summarize main points, ask a question, challenge the reader to take action, offer a quotation, or provide an ironic twist, surprising observation, or clever ending. Here is an example of a strong conclusion from Strategies for Writing a Conclusion: Campaign advertisements should help us understand the candidate’s qualifications and positions on the issues. Instead, most tell us what a…knave the opposing candidate is, or they present general images of the candidate as a family person or God-fearing American. Do such advertisements contribute to creating an informed electorate or a people who choose political leaders the same way they choose soft drinks and soap? (Strategies, 2004) Your conclusion must make readers glad they read the paper.
Final Revision, Proofreading, and Submission As you finish your conclusion, revise, proofread, and submit your rough draft. Ask yourself these questions and make changes as necessary: Have I created an effective thesis statement people could agree with or argue against? Have I organized my ideas in a logical fashion? Have paragraphs in the body supported my thesis statement? Have I written a strong introduction and conclusion? At this time, involve your writing buddy. Ask for feedback on content, style, grammar, mechanics, readability, and word choice, and make appropriate changes.