Introductions and Opening
Ms. Talmage
English I
September 2008
A startling statement
 Example: Cancer isn't deadly. That is...if you
don't catch it.
An anecdote
 A funny story or joke
A quotation related to the topic
Example: “The ring works hard now to get back into
the hands of men.” (The Lord of the Rings: The Two
Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien) Why men? That's simple.
In the past, the ring found that men were easy to
In media res – beginning “in the middle of” the
The beginning of XXX with Vin Diesel...Vin steals
the Senator's car and drives it off a bridge to prove a
The beginning of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
A dialogue
Example: “Off there to the right – somewhere – is a
large island,” said Whitney. “It's rather a mystery–”
“What island is it?” Rainsford asked.
“The old charts call it 'Ship-Trap Island,'” Whitney
replied. “A suggestive name, isn't it? Sailors have a
curious dread of the place. I don't know why. Some
superstition—” (“The Most Dangerous Game” by
Richard Connell)
A vivid scene
Example: A woman I don't know is boiling tea the Indian
way in my kitchen. There are a lot of women I don't
know in my kitchen, whispering, and moving tactfully.
They open doors, rummage through the pantry, and try
not to ask me where things are kept. They remind me of
when my sons were small, on Mother's day or when
Vikram and I were tired, and they would make big,
sloppy omelets. I would lie in bed pretending I didn't
hear them. (“The Management of Grief” by Bharati
A question or problem
Example: Doctor Menlo was having a problem: he
could not sleep and his wife – the other Doctor
Menlo – was secretly staying awake in order to keep
an eye on him. (“Dreams” by Timothy Findley)
A personal reflection about the topic
Example: The thousand injuries of Fortunado I had
borne the best I could, but when he ventured upon
insult I vowed revenge. (“The Cask of Amontillado”
by Edgar Allen Poe)
A description of the topic that does not name it
Example: The bowl was perfect. Perhaps it was not
what you'd select if you faced a shelf of bowls, and
not the sort of thing that would inevitably attract a lot
of attention at a crafts fair, yet it had a real presence.
It was as predictably admired as a mutt who has no
reason to suspect he might be funny. (Here, the
description of the bowl also describes the topic of the
short story, a woman named Janus.) (“Janus” by Ann
A dramatic incident
Example: When Miss Emily Grierson died, our
whole town went to her funeral: the men through
some sort of respectful affection for a fallen
monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see
the inside of her house, which no one save an old
manservant – a combined gardener and cook – had
seen in at least ten years. (“A Rose for Emily” by
William Faulkner)
A contrast
The minute our train leaves the Hong Kong border and enters
Shenzhen, China, I feel different. I can feel the skin on my
forehead tingling, my blood rushing through a new course, my
bones aching with a familiar old pain. And I think, my mother
was right. I am becoming Chinese.
“Cannot be helped,” my mother said when I was fifteen and
had vigorously denied that I had any Chinese whatsoever below
my skin. I was a sophomore at Galileo High in San Francisco,
and all my Caucasian friends agreed: I was about as Chinese as
they were. (“A Pair of Tickets” by Amy Tan)
An explanation of the thesis
Example: In “Sonny's Blues,” James Baldwin
employs water as a symbol that enables him to
concentrate more clearly on the lack of and the
crucial need for a real sense of communication
among members of society. (From the student essay:
“The Struggle to Surface in the Water of 'Sonny's
Blues'” by Geoffrey Clement)
A brief historical background
Example: I've never really done much with my life, I
suppose. I never had a television. Grandma Kashpaw had
one inside her apartment at the Senior citizens, so I used
to go there and watch my favorite shows. For a while she
used to call me the biggest waste on the reservation and
hard back to how she saved me from my own mother,
who wanted to tie me in a potato sack and throw me in a
ditch. Sure, I was grateful to Grandma Kashpaw for
saving me like that, for raising me, but gratitude gets old.
(“Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich)
An idea to be refuted
Example: We have curious ideas of ourselves. We
think of ourselves as a body with a spirit in it, or a
body with a soul in it, or a body with a mind in
it...It's a funny sort of superstition.
Opening Sentences
“Marley was dead, to begin with.”
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
Opening Sentences
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien
Opening Sentences
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Opening Sentences
“When Menolly, daughter of Yanus Sea Holder,
arrived at the Harper Craft Hall, she came in style,
aboard a bronze dragon.”
Dragonsinger, Anne McCaffrey
Opening Sentences
“Mr. And Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet
Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly
normal, thank you very much.”
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J. K. Rowling
Opening Sentences
“Once upon a time . . .”