Doyle Online Writing Lab
Techniques for Writing More Interesting Introductions & Conclusions
There is no easy solution for how to write an interesting essay: in all cases it will take creativity and thought on your part. The following ideas are suggestions, though, for ways to avoid reductive beginnings and endings - that is openings and closings that suggest that your argument is simplistic (or boring).
It is always important to think about what kind of impression your introduction gives your reader. After reading your introduction, your reader will be asking herself or himself questions such as does this essay interest me? Is the writing clear or will I have a hard time following what this writer is saying? Does his/her style show verve, or is (s)he just going through the motions? Does (s)he seem well informed? Do I like this writer as a person, or does (s)he put me off by something in her/his manner? The following are some ways to capture your reader's attention and sympathy.
- Begin with an intriguing story or anecdote. Explain how the story relates to the question your will explore in your essay. Your story may include a puzzling fact that must be explained.
- Describe a scene that arouses curiosity. The reader will want to know, "what is happening here?"
- Use a provocative quotation, and then explain it and use the explanation to develop the thesis of the essay.
- Begin with a simple, definite statement. A 4-5 word opening sentence can be dramatic and compelling.
- Ask a rhetorical question. Answer it in your thesis & proceed on with your essay.
NOTE: thesis sentences that are questions are rarely effective since they usually give the impression that the author isn't sure what the answer is yet.
The first sentence or two of a conclusion may be devoted to a BRIEF summary of your main point. After that, however, the following approaches may lead you to a more interesting conclusion than one that simply restates your introduction and/or all of your main points.
- Discuss a new idea that, while related to your main topic, takes it in a slightly new direction. This should not be given as a tangent, but as an example of how your essay fits into a larger context.
- If your essay has been an objective analysis or argument, discuss a situation from your own experience that is analogous or exemplary of the issue about which you have written.
- If your essay has been a discussion of a problem, propose a possible solution.
- Raise further questions that are related to the specific topic, but more general in scope, to leave the reader thinking. You may want to provide some brief answer to show that you have thought about these questions.
- Use a quotation that reflects the conclusion the essay has made or sums it up. You should be cautious if you choose to repeat the opening quote. You will want to make sure that you show how the reader's perception of it should have changed as a result of reading the essay: your readers will like to see that they have learned something as a result of reading your essay.
Costello, Jean. Techniques for Writing More Interesting Conclusions. Unpublished.
Marius, Richard. A Writer's Companion. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1991.
Trimble, John. Writing With Style. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1975.