Initial dilemma

A writer almost always has an initial dilemma–how to start his piece in consideration of the best way to engage the reader (a common solution to this is to write the introduction after the body of the paper has been drafted). The introduction can be thought of as a transition from the familiar world of the reader to the less familiar one of the essay.

Some ways of going about the introduction are the historical review, where a historical background is provided; a review of a controversy, where the reader’s attention is secured by involving him in a controversy that forms the subject of the paper; or simply working from a general subject to a specific one, or the reverse; questioning, which places the reader in an active role; or immediately stating the thesis, which is effective because the reader is immediately obliged to take notice of the issue, and maybe even protest. The Thesis A thesis is a one sentence summary of the paper.

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It is important for both writers and readers, as the thesis is the controlling idea of the paper. An effective paper must have an effective thesis, so it’s subject and the writer’s claims about it must be narrowed. To come up with a good thesis, the writer could begin with a broad subject and narrow it down, which can be accomplished by reading about the subject or by asking questions about it. A thesis is developed by making an assertion about the subject, which the writer can base upon other opinions in related literature, and on his own viewpoints.

Assertions on a subject can be simple or complex; and the writer must keep in mind that to maintain a complex thesis, the paper itself must be correspondingly complex (and lengthy). The writer must decide upon an appropriate approach to this. Theses range from simple explanations that provides only information, to a strong argument that requires analysis and an assertion of the writer’s view. The Conclusion A conclusion can be seen as a transition from the world of the essay back to the familiar world of the reader. It should be a restatement of the thesis that takes advantage of the points taken up in the paper’s body.

Some ways of concluding are: by stating the subject’s significance; by calling for further study into the subject; by discussing possible solutions to a problem (if the paper dealt with a problem); by anecdote, with which the writer can be subtle and invite the reader to formulate their own ideas; by quotation, especially of an authority on the subject, which can lend the paper even more credibility (although care must be taken to ensure that the quotation, because of its effectiveness, does not render the writer’s own work pale in comparison); by questioning, which of course is also effective as it invites the reader to take an active role and draw his own conclusions; and by speculation on what has happened, or what might happen, which engages the reader because the subject is the unknown.


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