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Starting, Connecting and Concluding

Writing introductions

Your introduction should:

  1. Capture the interest of your reader.  If the introduction can grab the reader's attention, then he or she will continue reading.  A dull or flat introduction will send the reader looking for more stimulating material.  

  2. Provide any necessary background information about your topic.  For example, you might point to the recent bans on smoking in public buildings and restaurants to launch into an argument for or against the new laws.

  3. Set the tone of your essay.  Will your essay be serious, humorous, light-hearted, or deeply emotional?  Your introductory paragraph will set the tone for the rest of the essay.  

  4. Present the thesis statement.  Your introductory paragraph should contain a clear thesis statement—the main idea you want to prove or demonstrate about your topic.  The thesis statement can appear anywhere in the paragraph, but you will likely find it easiest to make it the last sentence.

Ways of starting

(Examples based on a process essay "Dealing with Stress" are provided to show how each of these approaches might be used to begin a similar essay. The thesis statement is the same for each of these introductions.)

1. Make a general statement about your topic and gradually narrow your subject to your thesis.

Life today seems complex and constantly changing.  As a result, you may feel that you have so many responsibilities that you just can't deal with them all, and this leads to a great deal of stress. However you shouldn't despair.  By identifying the causes of your stress, reorganizing your priorities, and taking up a hobby or sport, you can mange the stress in your life.  

2. Ask a question or questions about your topic to get your readers thinking about the topic and anticipating the kind of answers you will offer.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the demands of everyday life? Do you feel like you just can't get everything done?  Are you constantly feeling under stress? Well don't give up.  There are steps you can take to deal with stress.  By identifying the causes of your stress, reorganizing your priorities, and taking up a hobby or sport, you can mange the stress in your life.  

3. Begin with a quotation.  You can use a quotation by a famous person or someone in the news or even a commonly heard expression that sums up a point you are trying to make or argue against.

"I just can't cope anymore".  Many Canadians find themselves saying these words when it seems that the stresses of life are just too much to deal with.  Some turn to doctors for medication.  Others just plug on, unhappy, confused and dysfunctional. Still others have discovered that they can learn to manage the stress in their lives without drugs by identifying the causes of their stress, reorganizing their priorities, and taking up a hobby or sport.

4. Make a strong claim or take a strong position about your subject.

Doctors are not doing enough to help the large numbers of Canadians who seek their help in dealing with stress.  Instead of prescribing Prozac as a quick cure, they should be helping people learn drug-free strategies for coping with stress.  By identifying the causes of stress, reorganizing priorities, and taking up a hobby or sport, people can learn to mange the stress in their lives.

5. Point to the importance of your topic.  Explain why your topic is important and why people should give it some thought.

Learning how to deal effectively with stress is one of the most important skills a person can develop.  Many people fail to realize their full potential because they constantly feel stressed out by the many stresses in their lives.  Many suffer needlessly because they have no idea where to begin.  Some turn to drugs and alcohol which only lead to further problems.  But there are some ways to keep stress from destroying your life.  By identifying the causes of your stress, reorganizing your priorities, and taking up a hobby or sport, you can mange the stress in your life.  

6. Relate a personal experience or tell an anecdote that relates to your thesis. 

(Not the change in the writer's point of view from third person to first person) 

Two years ago, I found myself unable to cope with the stress of dealing with my job, raising two young children and trying to go to school part-time.  I was stretched too thinly in too many directions.  A friend advised me to seek some help before I had a breakdown.  A sympathetic counselor helped me deal with my stress by giving me some coping strategies.  I found that by identifying the causes of my stress, reorganizing my priorities, and taking up a hobby, I was able to mange the stress in my life.

Transitions

"Word carpentry is like any other kind of carpentry: you must join your sentences smoothly."

Anatole France


Transitions are words that help writers make connections and move from one idea to the next smoothly.  Without transitions, your writing may feel choppy and disconnected. Your paragraphs will sound more like a list of sentences rather than a unified whole.

Look at the paragraph below. The transition words and phrases are in bold. Note how the transitions help to connect the ideas.  


How to Spend Your Time Wisely


Although everyone has the same 24 hours a day, some people are very productive while others run around and seem to let time slip away.  It can make a significant difference in your life if you consider how you spend your time.  To spend your time wisely, the first step is to organize your priorities.  Start by dividing your activities into the things you have to do and the things you want to do.  Then, choose the main activities from each category.  Make a list and write down which activity should be done first, second, third, and so on.  Before you do anything else, make sure you do those. If you have several places to visit, think about the most efficient route considering the distances between each place.  Always think about how to use short pieces of time effectively.  Bring short reading materials or pens and memo pads.  While waiting for a bus or a friend, there is enough time to make a grocery list or even do a little studying.  Some people carry post cards with them and write short letters while having a coffee or waiting for their lunch to arrive.  Careful management of these small amounts of time is the key to using your time effectively.  Of course, if you return home and spend three hours watching junk on TV, you are pretty much defeating the purpose of careful time management.


Transitions

Conjunctions – joining words 

for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so  (fanboys–-use to

connect independent clauses)

Showing Cause and Effect

  • as a consequence

  • consequently

  • as a result

  • because

  • therefore

  • for this reason

  • since

  • thus

Comparing

  • similarly

  • as well

  • also

  • likewise

  • like

  • all

  • equally

  • in the same way

  • at the same time

  • too

  • both

Contrasting  

  • instead

  • as opposed to

  • in spite of

  • however

  • whereas

  • except for

  • on the other hand

  • in contrast

  • unlike

  • yet

  • different from

Explaining, arguing, giving reasons  

  • of course

  • for example

  • for instance

  • because

  • actually

  • in fact

Showing Conditions  

  • even though

  • while

  • unless

  • although

  • if, even if

  • otherwise

  • despite

  • nevertheless  

Adding Information  

  • as well

  • also

  • besides

  • not only

  • not to be forgotten

  • furthermore

  • in addition

  • above all

  • moreover

  • then again, too

  • too

  • yet another

  • yet again

  • most of all

  • most importantly  

Showing Time Order  

  • first, first of all, etc.

  • second, third, etc.

  • at the start, to start

  • at the beginning

  • one

  • another

  • now, then

  • after that, afterwards

  • next

  • when  

  • again

  • during

  • following

  • finally

  • at last

  • at the end

  • to finish

  • in summary, to sum up

  • the final step

Admitting a Point

  • of course

  • after all

  • obviously

  • still

  • even so

  • however

  • granted

  • all the same

  • admittedly

  • nonetheless

Showing Conviction  

  • certainly

  • surely

  • without a doubt

  • undoubtedly

  • especially

  • no doubt

  • presumably

  • apparently

  • evidently

  • particularly

Writing Conclusions

Your conclusion should leave your reader with a sense of completion. You shouldn't be introducing any new information, but you might ask a question or point to a new direction or possibility about your topic. Here are a few ways to wrap up your essay based on the example "Dealing with Stress":

1. Restate the thesis in different words or refer to the thesis and remind your reader that you've dealt with it.  

Our lives will never be free of stress, but our ability to mange stress will determine how satisfied we are with our lives.  When we understand the causes of our stress, take a good look at our priorities, and find a relaxing a hobby or sport, we can successfully deal with the stress in our lives.

2. Make a recommendation, draw a conclusion, offer a solution or make an assessment.

If you're looking for a solution to deal with that feeling of being stressed out all the time, don't expect an easy fix.  But if you take the time to understand yourself better and develop a plan, you can learn to mange the stress in your life.

3. Make a prediction about what's going to happen in relation to your topic.

Stress is not going to go away.  What is changing though, is the way in which people deal with it.  There has been a huge backlash against the drug companies that have been promoting drugs as the solution to stress. In the future, more and more people will find ways to manage stress without drugs.

4. Ask a question which will lead your reader to think back upon your subject.

Our lives will never be free of stress, but our ability to mange stress will determine how satisfied we are with our lives. Will these techniques work for you? The only way to find out is to put them to the test.

   

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This page was last updated November 19, 2004

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