Chapter 14: Introductions and Conclusions

Introduction to Chapter 14

A key piece of advice many writers either do not ever get or do not believe is that it’s not necessary to write introductions first or to write conclusions last. Just because the introduction appears first and the conclusion appears last doesn’t mean they have to be written that way. Here’s a metaphor to help explain: Just because you walk into a building through the door doesn’t mean the door was built first. The foundation went in first, even though you rarely if ever see that part. And lots of imperfections in the foundation and the walls were covered up before you even moved in, so you can’t see those either unless you look closely.

14.1     Writing an Introduction

Picture your introduction as a storefront window: You have a certain amount of space to attract your customers (readers) to your goods (subject) and bring them inside your store (discussion). Once you have enticed them with something intriguing, you then point them in a specific direction and try to make the sale (convince them to accept your thesis, or main idea).

An introduction serves the following purposes:

  1. Establishes your voice and tone, or your attitude, toward the subject
  2. Introduces the general topic of the essay
  3. States the thesis that will be supported in the body paragraphs

First impressions are crucial and can leave lasting effects in your reader’s mind, which is why the introduction is so important to your essay. If your introductory paragraph is dull or disjointed, your reader will not have much interest in continuing with the essay.

Your introduction should begin with an engaging statement devised to provoke your readers’ interest. In the next few sentences, introduce them to your topic by stating general facts or ideas about the subject. As you move deeper into your introduction, you gradually narrow the focus, moving closer to your thesis.

14.2     Attracting Interest in Your Introduction

Immediately capturing your readers’ interest increases the chances of having them read what you are about to discuss. You can build readers’ curiosity for your essay in a number of ways. Try to get your readers personally involved by doing any of the following:

  • Appealing to their emotions
  • Using logic
  • Beginning with a provocative question or opinion
  • Opening with a startling statistic or surprising fact
  • Raising a question or series of questions
  • Opening with a relevant quotation or incident
  • Opening with a striking image
  • Including a personal anecdote (or story)

Watch this video to learn more about developing an interesting introduction:

14.3    Writing A Conclusion

It is not unusual to want to rush when you approach your conclusion, and even experienced writers may fade. But what good writers remember is that it is vital to put just as much attention into the conclusion as in the rest of the essay. After all, a hasty ending can undermine an otherwise strong essay.

A conclusion that does not correspond to the rest of your essay, has loose ends, or is unorganized can unsettle your readers and raise doubts about the entire essay. However, if you have worked hard to write the introduction and body paragraphs, your conclusion can often be the most logical part to compose.

Keep in mind that the ideas in your conclusion must conform to the rest of your essay. In order to tie these components together, restate your thesis at the beginning of your conclusion. This helps you assemble, in an orderly fashion, all the information you have explained in the body. Repeating your thesis reminds your readers of the major arguments you have been trying to prove and also indicates that your essay is drawing to a close. A strong conclusion also reviews your main points and emphasizes the importance of the topic.

The construction of the conclusion is similar to the introduction, in which you make general introductory statements and then present your thesis. The difference is that in the conclusion you first paraphrase, or state in different words, your thesis and then follow up with general concluding remarks. These sentences should progressively broaden the focus of your thesis and maneuver your readers out of the essay.

Many writers like to end their essays with a final emphatic statement. This strong closing statement will cause your readers to continue thinking about the implications of your essay; it will make your conclusion, and thus your essay, more memorable. Another powerful technique is to challenge your readers to make a change in either their thoughts or their actions. Challenging your readers to see the subject through new eyes is a powerful way to ease yourself and your readers out of the essay.

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Integrated Reading and Writing Level 2 by Pamela Herrington Moriarty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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