Developing the Topic in the Introductory Paragraph (PowerPoint)

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Developing the Topic in the
Introductory Paragraph
Janet Farra
Design: Verna Fisher
Here are five common ways to develop your
topic in the introductory paragraph:
1. Anecdotes – a short story (true or
2. Define/Explain – background
information, statistics or definition of
3. Quote
4. Popular Argument – a commonly
held idea
5. Question
Anecdote sample
He just had time for the fleeting
thought that the port-a-potty on the
trailer did not look secure before it shook
itself free, tumbling into traffic. The
fiberglass box landed on the hood of his
car, slid up his windshield, over the roof,
and down the back, ruining the antenna
as it went. While the engine and steering
were unharmed, the damage to the body
of my son’s nine-year-old car left it
totaled. Sometimes momentous changes
that happen quickly can remind us that
life is fragile.
Define/Explain sample
Obesity is on the rise in America. Often
referred to by the medical profession as
“overweight,” our hefty size has contributed to
higher incidence of diseases such as diabetes,
heart failure, and hypertension. Doctors are
reporting that obesity is becoming an epidemic,
as even children are now suffering from these
diseases once thought confined to adults. This is
clogging our already troubled healthcare system.
We must revisit our grandparent’s timely advice
that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of
cure” in order to reverse this destructive trend.
Quote sample
“Life is pain, Princess. Anyone who tells you
differently is selling something.” This harsh
declaration by the Dread Pirate Roberts in the
loveable comedy The Princess Bride effectively
pops our cherished bubble of happily-ever-after.
This dart of realism echoes American cultural
changes as the white picket fence dream of the
1950s fades into the bleak scramble to make
ends meet in the early twenty first century.
Several factors have contributed to our current
struggle: greed in the market place, obscenely
bloated lawsuit awards, and a dwindling work
Popular Argument sample
A large portion of college freshmen
find common ground in their sentiment
that learning to write essays is a useless
endeavor. Typically, essay writing is
viewed as a skill that is only needed in a
classroom. However, I am convinced that
learning to communicate through the
written word is an extremely important
and undervalued life skill.
Question sample
When you slide behind the steering
wheel after a hard day’s work, what kind
of music do you listen to? Is it something
to infuse you with new energy? Or do you
search for soothing tunes to help you
unwind? More than a simple form of
entertainment, music is a heart language
that we are born knowing, and we interact
with on a variety of deep levels
throughout our lives.
Introductory Paragraph No-Nos
Don’t recite your instructions.
• Avoid obvious statements such as “In this paper I will
discuss the causes of rising oil prices.” Instead write,
“Several factors cause oil prices to rise.”
Don’t apologize:
• Avoid self-critical statements such as “I don’t have much
background in this subject.” Instead write, “I believe
that it is better to tell the truth than to life.”
Don’t use over worn expressions:
• Avoid well-known statements such as Nike’s “Just do it.”
(unless they are necessary to the point you are trying to
make). Instead write, “Don’t let fear hold you back from
new experiences.”