The introduction to an essay is like a first impression–you only get one chance to draw the reader in. You should take special care to create the best first impression that you can by writing an effective introduction. The introduction draws the reader in, presents the topic of your essay, provides the reader with adequate background, and tells the reader what your specific impression of the topic will be.
Quote a poem or a passage from a favorite author. A quote serves as a jumping off point for the reader and gives them a hint of where the article is headed. A well-chosen quote sets the tone for the entire essay and draws the reader into the main idea of the essay.
In the past, we were told to never open an essay with a question. Those days are no more–asking a question in the introduction of an essay personalizes the writing for the reader, thereby pulling the reader into the body of the essay. People tend to keep reading when they feel they have a personal investment in the essay.
Pique the reader’s interest with an unusual fact about the topic that you are writing by including an anecdote that is unusual or humorous. Again, the goal in the introduction is to make the reader want to keep reading. Telling a funny story about the topic in two or three sentences is another effective way to keep the reader reading.
State a fact about your topic. Use a statistic or an expert’s opinion. Everyone respects the truth. You can hold the reader’s interest if the reader knows you are knowledgeable about your subject.
State your main idea (your thesis statement). Setting up the topic is not enough. Be sure to give your specific impression about the topic. Your topic may be cockfighting, but your main idea is the stand you take regarding cockfighting.
Support your main idea by listing three support points. These support points will become the topic sentences of your body paragraphs. The introduction serves as a roadmap for the entire essay. Finish your introduction with a brief sentence that outlines the support points you will discuss in your essay.
An effective conclusion is like ending a phone conversation–you want to keep it short and simple. The conclusion serves as the last impression you leave the reader with and should sum up your main idea briefly and succinctly. The best advice on writing effective conclusions is to make the conclusion sound as final as the slam of a door.
The conclusion is the place to tie up all the loose ends and bring together the body paragraphs into a whole. The support points in the body of the essay should be briefly summarized in the conclusion. Summarize what you have said in the body of the essay.
After summarizing the support points, restate your main idea–your specific impression about the topic–in different words. An effective conclusion does not just repeat what was said in the introduction–it restates the thesis in a new way.
A great way to conclude your essay is by giving the reader one more example of your main idea. If you discussed why cockfighting should be banned, then the conclusion is the place to give one more example of why cockfighting should be banned. Remember; leave the reader with a final slam of the door.
You can also conclude your essay by adding an additional comment about your topic or by telling the reader your own reaction to the topic. What strong reactions do you have to your topic? Include them briefly in the conclusion.
An effective way to sum up your essay is with an outstanding quote on the topic. Search the Web for sites that have quotes and find one that packs a punch in regards to your topic. Ending the essay with a good quote leaves your reader feeling satisfied (see Resources below).
Challenge the reader to take a stand, make a difference or get involved. Make a call for action. This type of conclusion works particularly well with the persuasive essay. You have written the essay; now send the reader out the door with enthusiasm.