Start with a Good Introduction

As the old saying goes by, a good beginning is half done. However, this also goes for the writiing process. A good introduction serves many functions, such as attracting the readers' attention, supplying information required to understand the context, as well as housing the thesis statement of central idea.(1) Based on these acknowledgement, it is really important for college students to obtain necessary skills of making a good introduction.

There are many different points of penetrationin in starting an introduction and the comparatively most commonly used three types are: 1) using a quotation; 2) asking a question interesting or irritating to readers; 3) using definition. Although all of these three methods are frequently used, they still differ from each other in their advantages and disadvantages, as well as their special application situation

As for the choice of using a quotation as the introduction, it is one of the easiest and most convenient way to introduce a topic. The quotation here means a short note recognizing a source of information or of a quoted passage.(2) It could appear in oral form, such as words or statements said by a famous people in a speech or in an interview. It could also be written form like famous and widely acknowledged sentences in a book or in a poem. No matter how the quotation comes into being, it must be very widely recognized. The quotations could be about solid truth, comments on a historical moment, or something very funny and classic that everyone knows it and repeats it. There are many famous quotations which are widely used, such as the classic words of Benjamin Franklin: “Reading makes a full man, meditation a profound man, discourse a clear man.” And the statement “Truth is a flower in whose neighbourhood others must weither” said by the famous British novelist E. M. Forster is also frequently quoted.

In general, quotation benefits an article in many aspects when it acts as the introduction. Firstly, starting with one widely familiar sentence will attract readers’ attention and make them feel closer with the article. Secondly, since the quotation has impressed fixed implication on the public, readers will gain a general idea of the essay with a simple glance at the introduction quotation, which makes the thesis clear and serves as the reading guidance. Additionally, by quoting statements of famous people, people may choose to continue reading because of their interest in the person quoted.

However, it must be pointed out that when people use quotations, the words quoted must be relative or correlates with the theme of the article. In the article talking about Charlie Chaplin's career "A Master of Nonverbal Humor", the author started with the sentence" As Victor Hugo once said, ‘ Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face’, and up till now nobody has been able to do this better than Charlie Chaplin."(3) Undoubtfully, this sentence echos with the main topic of the article and serves its purpose well.

It’s also a good choice to start by asking a question interesting or irritating to readers as the introduction. Questions can effetively arrtract readers’ attention and push them to think, through which the readers have themselves involved. Articles need audience and a question mark always works better than a period in attracting people’s interest. When choosing the questions to be asked, the author need to be able to understand the targrt readers’ psychology and select the question that is sensitive enough to stir up readers' desire to argue and maintain their curiosity of reading the whole passage.

In the book “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson, the big and conspicuous question mark with its bright colour on the cover as well as the first page successfully makes people stop over at the bookshelf which contains this book and thumb a page or two.

Many articles also start with a definition, which may take the form of a description of some social phenomenon or an explanation of a certain terminology. Starting with a definition can give an instant and direct idea of the article’s theme to the readers. In this way, it saves lots of time for the readers to get themselves bored with something ther are not interested in. And on the other hand, the target readers can find the right article to read with only a glance at the introduction. However, this kind of introduction usually applies to expository writing or scientific journal, in which veracity and objectivity are required.

Although there is another saying that goes around popularly as well: first sight cannot account for all. Even so, the opening remark still plays an important role in setting the keynote of the written product. So, it is never too cautious to start an introduction. Apart from the three choices listed above, there are many other ways of making an introduction can be developped. And no matter which method is adopted, as long as it serves the writing purpose well, it is the right choice.

(1) Book: "The IBC of Writing" by Jean Beauchamp. Sichuan University Press. The First Edition.

(2) Website Link:
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