The first round of our Writing Madness bracket has concluded, which left us with eight writing issues that won’t be participating in the next round of voting. The Learning Hub’s writing staff have picked four of these eight, and over the next week we will be presenting them along with specific resources to help you overcome your frustrations with them. This time? Introductions!
Last week in the writing madness bracket, staying motivated bested writing introductions by a very narrow margin, so let’s take a moment to visit with that frustrating and fickle introduction as it loses its place in this highly competitive bracket.
Here are three tips for writing introductions, plus a link to the Learning Hub’s helpful handout with additional pointers and annotated samples:
- Don’t try to make your introduction do too much work.
We often have many things running through our mind when trying to compose an introduction. We know it’s the first thing our readers will see, so we want to make a good impression, but we also know that we need to have a clear claim and possibly some background information on our purpose.
If we try to do too much in our introductions, though, they will drag on, the connections will be imprecise, and—worst of all—they might not set up the rest of the paper very well.
Keep in mind that other paragraphs can do some introductory work, too. For example, the second paragraph might be a good place to provide some historical context.
Also, remember to keep the scope narrow. When we’re in the middle of a writing project, we might inflate the scope of this issue and think the best place to start is with the entire world, all of history, or the wide, wide universe: “Since the dawn of time…”; “People all over the world…”; “Throughout the history of our universe…”
This is not the best place to start because such statements are likely far outside the scope of this writing project, so try to begin with what tells audiences the most in the least amount of space.
This brings us to the second tip…
- Be aware that grabbing readers’ attention means different things depending on the context and purpose.
Scientists want to learn how an experiment furthers our understanding of an issue. Literature scholars are curious about how language use might give us a new perspective on a work. Business administrators want new solutions to problems that impede advancement.
Considering these audiences help us think about what will grab their attention. Don’t try to make that biology paper appeal to an English major. Make it appeal to a biologist.
But most of all, maybe you should just put the intro off until later…
- You don’t need to write your introduction first.
If writing the introduction has become an excuse for not writing the rest of the paper, you should probably move on and come back to it later. In fact, sometimes we need to write a draft before we have a really good idea of what we want to write about in the first place. It’s too much to ask to start writing an introduction when we first need to start exploring and organizing our ideas in body paragraphs.
Putting off your introduction until later in the process might just help you finish that project sooner.
For more tips, see the Learning Hub’s handout on writing introductions below, visit the Learning Hub’s website for more handouts on writing skills, make an appointment with a tutor, and keep your eye on this blog!
Also, don’t forget to vote in our writing madness bracket: https://uislearninghub.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/writing-madness-round-two-voting-begins/