What is a good way to start an introduction to an essay?

Expert Answers
jake440 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In starting an essay, it’s generally helpful to begin by introducing the reader to the general themes that you will address in your writing. If you are writing in response to another piece of writing, begin with a brief summary (2-3 sentences) of that piece and its key themes and arguments. This principle applies even if you are not analyzing a text. If you are writing in regards to a current event or political debate, for example, describe and summarize its most important elements.

Next, your introduction should give the reader a strong sense of what you will be arguing in your paper by concluding with a strong thesis statement. A thesis statement is a concise summary of your argument. It should be 1-2 sentences, and clearly articulate both what you are going to argue, and what the elements of your argument are.

A helpful trick is to use your thesis statement to lay out the structure of your paper. For example, a sample thesis statement might be: I will argue that cats are superior to dogs because they are more self-sufficient, they can form peer-level relationships with humans, and they tend to be smaller and easier to manage. Each of these three segments of your thesis statement—self-sufficiency, peer relationships, and ease of management-- can now form a section of your essay.

ssuarez | Student

When you begin an essay, you want to start with specifying the title of the book and its author in the first line of the introduction. However, you want to name these without simply naming them. You have to include something that pertains to the essay question. What did your teacher say the essay has to be about? It is about a theme you have found within the book? Is it about Jane Eyre's character? Once you have this clear, you want to tell your reader what you are arguing and include a brief explanation in the introduction without going too much into detail. Save that for the body paragraphs.

For example, say you are writing about how Jane Eyre is viewed as inferior due to the gender relations between men and women at the time. You can begin the introduction with: "Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (italicize Jane Eyre throughout your essay as it is the title of the book) is about a woman who (always include a background of main character or what the book revolves around) has a troubled childhood and it affects her ability to be conscientious of her actions later in life. Her encounter with Mr. Rochester at Thornwood is where she must differentiate between thinking with her head versus with her heart. The reason why Jane's unification with Mr. Rochester is made difficult is due to __, ___, and ___. 

The blanks above are for including the themes you are talking about in the book or they can be the reasons that back up why you chose that one theme to write about. Because you have not specified the essay question, I simply have an example of how to write a short introduction. 

1. Title of book in italics by.

2. Include a sentence or two about the book that relates to its theme(s). 

3. Then write what the themes are that are going to back your statement in the following body paragraphs.

4. Do not summarize in the introduction. The reader (the teacher) already knows what the book is about. 

5. Keep introduction short but not too short (6-8 sentences or so).