Friday, December 02, 2011

First Impressions in Writing

I just submitted my final paper for English 101! 

The assignment was to write a 500 - 1000 word process analysis about some point of the writing process and I chose the beginning of a paper, the introduction!
In the spirit of celebration, I've decided to post the paper for all you writers or other students entering in to college English classes.

First Impressions in Writing

Introductions can be daunting. Throughout life meeting new people and keeping to social etiquette can be awkward. In the same way, writing an introduction for your paper can be daunting. It has its awkward moments and periods of writers block during rough drafts. We’re all beginners at some point; all needing encouragement and guidance to start off. So to help you start, here is some writing wisdom to assist in your introductions.
            To start off, for any piece of writing you need something to write about. To get started, know your topic. If you have an assigned prompt and are unfamiliar with the topic you’ve been given, do research to be more comfortable writing about it. Make sure you understand the topic and know how it is you’re going to present it. For example, if you paper is an argument, are you arguing for or against your topic? Or if it’s persuasive, are you persuading people to take a stand for or against it? Whatever the case may be, make sure you’re knowledgeable in your topic and aware of your approach.
            Once you have a good grasp on your topic, it’s time to develop your thesis. When writing a paper your thesis is one of the most important things you’ll be graded on. It’s the declaration of what your paper is all about, the essence of your piece of writing. As ‘The Little Seagull’ handbook puts it, the thesis is “a statement that identifies the topic and main point of a piece of writing, giving readers an idea of what the text will cover”. Take care in developing your thesis, for without it, what is your paper about?
            Now that the topic and thesis are taken care of, it’s time to cover vocabulary. Wording is important in an introduction, both on paper and in life. If you were to have the opportunity to meet the Queen of England you wouldn’t greet her with an “oh my gosh! It’s great to see you!!!” but rather a formal and polite greeting appropriate for the circumstance. In the same way, you wouldn’t greet your best friend upon seeing them for the first time in two years with a reserved, “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance Your Highness.” So when you’re writing your introduction, make sure you’re using the correct wording. It needs to be appropriate for the circumstance: meaning your audience and your topic.
Something else to keep in mind is that the wording of your introduction also needs to pique the readers’ interest. To catch their eye try making a statement your audience can relate to. For example, at the beginning of this paper the statement “Introductions can be daunting.” is something a student could empathize with. But, as the introduction continues, the parallels between introductions in life and on paper can help those with less writing experience relate to the topic as well. To engage your readers right away, try asking a question pertaining to your topic. ‘The Norton Sampler’ gives the example that “In an essay about the physical benefits of laughter, a writer might open with this question: “Is laughter really the best medicine?”
Since the introduction of your paper is the beginning, it needs to have continuation value. It’s the first impression your paper gives to the audience and should to entice them to continue reading. Make sure your introduction is apt in explaining to the reader what your paper is about, that way successfully leads into the body of your piece.
            The introduction is a crucial part of any piece of writing. The first words read are integral to how your audience will respond to the piece as a whole. As the first impression in writing is so important, we all need some encouragement and guidance when we first start off. Each of these guidelines – topic, thesis, wording, and continuation value – is important to any introduction. Follow them, add your own flare and there’s no introduction you can’t conquer. So get out there and write!

Works Cited

Cooley, Thomas. The Norton Sampler Seventh Edition: Short Stories for Composition. New York: Norton, 2010. Print.
Bullock, Richard, Francine Weinberg, The Little Seagull Handbook. New York, Norton, 2011. Print.

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