English Composition I
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Introductions are the reader's first impression of the argument you intend to present in your essay. The introduction should let the reader see the tone and approach that you will use for the rest of the essay. You should approach an introduction as a form of movie preview or trailer. You want to get the reader interested in your topic, but you don't want to give away your entire argument . After all, if you preview your entire argument, why does the reader need to read any further in the essay?
An Introduction needs to include the essay's topic and a sense of how the author is going to handle that topic. The introduction DOES NOT have to include the thesis, nor does it have to list the subject of each body paragraph. In fact, most of the time, the author should try to give away as little as possible about their body paragraph content in the introduction. Most readers decide within the first few paragraphs whether or not they are going to read the entire essay. The introduction is an important part of this process. What the introduction SHOULD try to do is grab the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading.
To summarize: an introduction has two main roles in an essay -
There are many different ways to introduce an essay; more than any single handout could explain. This handout shows examples of some of the more common types of introduction, but should not be seen as an exhaustive list. I have used the same topic-the Columbine shooting-in order to show the contrast between each type more clearly.
- It's a real-life Revenge of the Nerds.
- Ever since the Colorado massacre, it's not the meeker kids at high school who fear the athletes, it's the other way around.
- Scott Flander "Some Jocks Say They Fear Nerds' Revenge"
- The Columbine killings-with chat rooms, Websites, multiplayer games, and the general weirdness and unknownness of the Internet taking the rap-represent something of a new-media rite of passage. Such finger-pointing is always about selecting a target that you can't miss. So what's really being said is that new media is big media, that it's everywhere, and that, by virtue of its sudden, shocking ubiquity, along with its disconcerting newness, there's a pretty good chance it has something to do with what's going wrong.
- Michael Wolff "Why Your Kids Know More About the Future Than You Do"
- People have come by the thousands to Clement Park to gaze at the center of the horrible mystery. They've followed winding paths to the dirty yellow police tape, or trudged through sopping late-spring snow to the top of a bluff where, spread out below them, Columbine High School quietly lies.
- What went on in there? By now the world has read the chilling story of the laughing killers, heard the terrified screams and relentless gunshots. But it isn't the ghastly What or the gruesome How that draws these thousands, so much as the inscrutable Whys. Why didn't anyone see it coming? Why was such hatred allowed to fester? Why did this happen, and why here?
- David Van Drehle "At Such a Fine School, Why?"
- When Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire in their high school on April 20, they couldn't have imagined how many people would benefit. For some of the students who survived, it was a chance to perform in the biggest media circus since Monica. For the news networks, it was an excuse to cut away from the parage of desperate Kosovars that had been turning viewers off in droves. Law-and-orders types found a platform for their long-standing plan to turn high schools into military camps, while liberals saw a powerful opening to pound home their demand for regulating guns. The president seized the triangulating moment, calling for stricter gun laws and a Hollywood summit on teen violence. And everyone agreed that violent video games were to blame.
- Richard Goldstein "The Faggot Factor"
- They were 18 and 17, it was almost the end of the school year, and you look forward at the end of the school year to freedom. Eighteen and life: the whole vista, the whole landscape, is opening in front of you. They saw nothing. They had utterly nothing to live for, and they chose to die, and there was no meaning in their life and they tried to give meaning to their death, and they came up with a really stupid meaning, a live-action video game with victims who really bled and couldn't fight back. A sad painful story, considering what must have been inside those two boys. However smart they were, they did not look inside themselves because looking at whatever was closing them off would have hurt too much. It hurt less to kill people and finally to kill themselves.
- Frank Kogan "School's Been Blown to Pieces"
- It was a phone call that will stay with Denver Police Officer John Lietz for the rest of his life. Shortly after 11 last Tuesday morning, he picked up the line to hear the voice of Matthew Depew, the son of a fellow cop: Depew and 17 other Columbine High School students were trapped in a storage room off the school cafeteria, hiding from kids with guns. Lietz himself had a daughter in the school, and he could hear bursts of gunfire in the background. Lietz told the kids to barricade the door with chairs and sacks of food, and to be ready to attack the gunmen if they got in. Several times Lietz heard the shooters trying to break into the room; they were so close that he could hear them reloading cartridges. At one point, as they pounded on the door, Depew calmly told Lietz that he was sure he was going to die. "Please tell my father I love him," he said.
- "Anatomy of a Massacre"
- Dylan Klebold "is intelligent enough to make any dream a reality," a juvenile court counselor wrote last year. The police will investigate, the psychiatrists will speculate, the moralists will fulminate, but none of them are likely to make comprehensive sense of the knotted fantasies and rages that led Klebold and Eric Harris-as coldly planful and Leopold and Loeb, as unforgiving as Carrie, as well armed as Rambo-to apply that intelligence to their murderous rampage at Columbine High School. Still, the pinstriped mafioso of the culture wars, from Gary Bauer to Trent Lott, are busy presenting these two psychopaths as the embodiment of the dangers of unfilitered Internet access, Goth culture, abortion and godless parenting. So in the interests of reality-testing, let it be noted that the current generation of teenagers is less likely to use drugs, is more sexually conservative and less likely to be caught up in school violence than that of twenty years ago.
- Bruce Shapiro "The Guns of Littleton"
- The tenth or eleventh time DanCBS/PeterABC/TomNBC told me the massacre in Littleton, Colorado was especially horrific because it happened in a high school, "somewhere children feel safe," I started screaming at the television. What high school were they talking about? I went to three, and in none of my high schools did I for a moment feel safe. High school was terrifying, and it was the casual cruelty of the popular kids-the jocks and the princesses-that made it hell.
- Dan Savage "Fear the Geek"
I first heard the news of Littleton on the radio that evening while driving to a friend's house. Someone had broken the antenna off my car a few days earlier; between the lousy reception and the sketchiness of early reports, I couldn't tell at first exactly what had happened. Another school shooting. Twenty-five or more feared dead. Twenty-five? My first thought was entirely weary and entirely cynical. At least the killer understood the moral economy of the situation. One or two bodies wouldn't have made much of a story, not anymore.
Steve Perry "Blank Hearts: Life is Cheap and Getting Cheaper"