We’ve all been there. It’s the night before your paper is due (or a few nights if you’re better with time management), and you have no idea where to start. Cue panic attack.
Not every paper is the same and, more importantly, not every professor is the same. This reality can make it pretty difficult to start the process of writing a paper at all. So here is the first piece of advice about writing a killer introduction: write the introduction after you finish the rest of the paper. Yup, you heard that correctly. It’s quite a challenge to introduce a paper that does not exist yet, so the best possible advice in overcoming that hurdle is to not write the introduction until you at least have a rough draft of everything else. This system will prevent you from talking about irrelevant content in your intro because you will already know the general points you’ll explore in the paper! Look at you, planning ahead.
So when you finally do get to planning the paper and it is time for the introduction, what should it look like? There are a few different ways to approach this, but first we will preface with a brief list of what to always incorporate in your introduction, regardless of professor, class, or skill level.
This part of your paper should be entirely your own thoughts and words; citing someone else’s work is confusing and unnecessary. Any outside concepts or events you might reference must be put in your own words. Think of it like giving a speech - if you were being paid to present information to a crowd, would you start with someone else’s ideas? No! You’re up there for a reason; people want to hear what you have to say. Don’t cloud it with thoughts from other people.
This is a good rule of thumb for all formal writing. Contractions are words with apostrophes (isn’t, doesn’t, won’t, etc). We may talk like this in our day to day lives, but that kind of informal language has no place in formal writing. Don’t start off your killer paper with weak language. Instead, write it out - does not, will not, etc. You have good things to say. Make sure your language choices back that up.
A thesis typically exists as the last sentence of an introduction. This is the big moment where you make a claim and spend the rest of the paper proving or disproving that claim. Do not waste your thesis by putting a random sentence with no intention in there; the thesis is your mic drop moment where you get people’s attention and encourage them to keep reading. What point will you make to get people interested in your topic?
Writing an introduction is one of the more difficult elements of a paper because you have a limited amount of space to introduce points, provide some semblance of evidence, and still stay sane. Yikes. The easiest way to structure an introduction of any kind is by following this general structure:
Wow, look at you! 6-8 sentences later and you have developed a full introduction paragraph. Avoid going much longer than that because you do not want people to get overwhelmed with front loaded information; there is plenty of space in the body paragraphs to really hit that analysis home.
You got this. Deep breathing. An introduction is only as scary as the anticipation of starting it. Just do your best and, as always, reach out to the KP team to ensure you get that top tier second opinion :)