What is the best way to start a paper: a manual for students

  • - Introduction
  • Beginning an essay can sometimes be the hardest part of writing an essay.  Starting off you have no direction, no topic, nothing.  A blank screen is perhaps the most daunting thing a student has to look at when writing an essay.  Sometimes, just writing (even if the subject has nothing to do with what the final essay will be about) will help the process along, other times, it is just a way to procrastinate writing your essay.  If you fall into the latter category, then the first thing you should do is decide what type of essay you are writing.

  • - What Type of Essay is This?
  • There are many types of essays to be written.  Usually, your instructor will assign a specific essay type, but in the case that he does not, you will have to pick what type on your own.  Below is a list of essay types to choose from:

    1. 1. Argumentative - state why one idea or object is better than another
    2. 2. Narrative - use a story to explain your belief
    3. 3. Informative - use facts to explain why a certain phenomenon happens
  • - Choosing a Topic
  • Once the type of essay is decided upon, a topic will need to be picked.  Take a look at what is important and interesting to you in the class.  Ask your fellow students what they plan to write about.  Go to the keywords part of your book, close your eyes and place your finger somewhere on the list of words.  Any of these will help in guiding you to a specific topic or direction.

  • - The First Sentence
  • "Fingernail clippers are pretty cool."  Okay, so fingernail clippers are not that cool, but if that was the first sentence of an essay, you would be wondering why fingernail clippers are cool and will be more likely to continue reading.  This sentence is a good example of an attention-grabbing statement.  All good essays start off with a little statement that piques the interest of the reader.

  • - The Last Sentence
  • "Fingernail clippers are cool because they..."  This last sentence is called the thesis statement.  Why are finger nail clippers cool?  Generally, this is a three-point statement, meaning you have three reasons why fingernail clippers are cool.  Here are some tips at writing a good thesis statement:

  1. 1. Make it brief - you do not want to add so much information that the reader does not have to read the essay body
  2. 2. Write it and re-write it many times - sometimes your essay will go in a different direction as you delve more into each point
  3. 3. If writing an argumentative essay, make clear your point of view in your thesis

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