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Writing effective beginning paragraphs


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Writing effective beginning paragraphs

  1. 1. Writing Effective Beginning Paragraphs
  2. 2. What do beginning paragraphs do?
  3. 3. Beginning paragraphs . . . <ul><li>Convince readers to read on </li></ul><ul><li>Capture the reader’s interest </li></ul><ul><li>Set the tone for the piece </li></ul><ul><li>Frame the issue </li></ul><ul><li>May state the thesis </li></ul><ul><li>May briefly map out the way the rest of the piece will progress </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>An incendiary new explanation for childhood obesity. </li></ul><ul><li>By Tim Harford, Slate , Sept. 30, 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>The Western world is, famously, full of fat kids. It is not clear why. Could it be because of the insidious power of advertising? Or the fear of traffic and kidnappers, which persuades parents to keep their children indoors? Or should we just blame the steady spread of fast food? </li></ul><ul><li>All three, it seems, are guilty—or so say economists, who in recent years have started publishing a bewildering array of explanations for the obesity epidemic. </li></ul><ul><li>[summarizes recent explanations] </li></ul><ul><li>That is all very interesting, but it does beg the question of why things are getting worse. Another trio of economists—Patricia Anderson, Kristin Butcher, and Phillip Levine—has suggested that two-income families may be producing the problem. They find that children are fatter if their mothers work longer hours. </li></ul>
  5. 5. A concisely stated thesis <ul><li>If the governments of China and Russia don’t soon act decisively, snow leopards will be extinct in a few years. </li></ul>
  6. 6. A question <ul><li>How valuable are snow leopards? The director of a zoo in Darjeeling, India, was fired when its snow leopard caught a cold and died. </li></ul>
  7. 7. A hard hitting fact <ul><li>Poaching is big business—to be exact, a six-billion-dollar business. The only illegal trade that’s larger is drugs. </li></ul>
  8. 8. A pithy quotation <ul><li>“ That the snow leopard is,” writes Peter Matthiessen, “that it is here, that its frosty eyes watch us from the mountains—that is enough.” And it has to be enough because, while snow leopards are here now, they may not be here much longer. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Images <ul><li>Tons of animal pelts and bones sit in storage at Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal. The mounds of poached animal parts confiscated by forest rangers reach almost to the ceiling. The air is stifling, the stench stomach-churning. </li></ul>
  10. 10. An anecdote <ul><li>The snow leopard stood so still in the frosty bushes, it wasn’t until the goat squealed that we saw it. Its mottled white fur was now spattered with the goat’s blood. Steam rose from the animal’s wounds. We fumbled for our cameras, hoping to capture this terrible beauty. </li></ul>
  11. 11. A problem <ul><li>Ecologists worry that the construction of a natural gas pipeline in Russia’s Ukok Plateau will destroy the habitat of endangered snow leopards, argali mountain sheep, and steppe eagles. </li></ul>
  12. 12. A contradiction or paradox <ul><li>Snow leopards are tremendously versatile animals, strong enough to kill a horse and fast enough to chase down a hare. What they can’t do is hide from poachers in Nepal and India. And this may be their downfall. </li></ul>
  13. 13. An odd, ridiculous, or unbelievable fact <ul><li>Caterpillar fungus is a hot commodity. Traditional healers and their clients are willing to pay handsomely for illegally harvested ingredients for their treatments. As a result, demand for the fungus, along with other poached items like rhinoceros horns and snow leopard bones, drives a lucrative and destructive black market in endangered species. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Don’t begin with the obvious or the overly general <ul><li>In this essay, I will explain . . . </li></ul><ul><li>For my topic, I chose . . . </li></ul><ul><li>According to Webster’s dictionary, . . . </li></ul><ul><li>Throughout history, . . . </li></ul>
  15. 15. Start with a fresh idea, fact or image <ul><li>Concise thesis </li></ul><ul><li>Question </li></ul><ul><li>Hard-hitting fact </li></ul><ul><li>Quotation </li></ul><ul><li>Images </li></ul><ul><li>Anecdote </li></ul><ul><li>Problem </li></ul><ul><li>Contradiction </li></ul><ul><li>Odd fact </li></ul>