Don’t Begin at the Beginning
Creating Engaging Introductions for Your Personal Narrative Essay
Engaging introductions are so crucial to effective writing. Think of it this way. you have about 15 seconds and 50 words to convince your reader that you’re important and funny and original and well-groomed and worth listening to for the next ten or 15 minutes. How, then, do you do it? How can you begin your essays in a way that wins friends, influences nations, and establishes your genius?
Revise. Then revise again.
A WORKING LIST OF “HOOK” STRATEGIES
DIRECTIONS: Re-read the following introductions and determine which introduction strategy they are employing. Be ready to defend two of these introductions as the MOST SUCCESSFUL. Have specific reasons ready for your position.
“Momento Mori” by David Sedaris
For the past ten years or so, I’ve made it a habit to carry a small notebook in my front pocket. The model I favor is called the Europa, and I pull it out an average of ten times a day, jotting down grocery lists, observations, and little thoughts on how to make money, or torment people. The last page is always reserved for phone numbers, and the second to last I use for gift ideas. These are not things I might give to other people, but things that they might give to me: a shoehorn, for instance—always wanted one. The same goes for a pencil case, which, on the low end, probably costs no more than a doughnut.
“ A Son Returns to the Agony of Somalia” by K’Naan from The New York Times
One has to be careful about stories. Especially true ones. When a story is told the first time, it can find a place in the listener’s heart. If the same story is told over and over, it becomes less like a presence in that chest and more like an X-ray of it.
The beating heart of my story is this: I was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. I had a brief but beautiful childhood filled with poetry from renowned relatives. Then came a bloody end to it, a lesson in life as a Somali: death approaching from the distance, walking into our lives in an experienced stroll.
“We Do Abortions Here” by Sally Tisdale
We do abortions here; that is all we do. There are weary, grim moments when I think I cannot bear another basin of bloody remains, utter another kind phrase of reassurance. So I leave the procedure room in the back and reach for a new chart. Soon I am talking to an eighteen-year-old woman pregnant for the fourth time. I push up her sleeve to check her blood pressure and find row upon row of needle marks, neat and parallel and discolored. She has been so hungry for her drug for so long that she has taken to using the loose skin of her upper arms; her elbows are already a permanent ruin of bruises. She is surprised to find herself nearly four months pregnant. I suspect she is often surprised, in a mild way, by the blows she is dealt. I prepare myself for another basin, another brief and chafing loss.
“Salvation” by Langston Hughes
I was saved from sin when I was going on thirteen. But not really saved. It happened like this. There was a big revival at my Auntie Reed's church. Every night for weeks there had been much preaching, singing, praying, and shouting, and some very hardened sinners had been brought to Christ, and the membership of the church had grown by leaps and bounds. Then just before the revival ended, they held a special meeting for children, "to bring the young lambs to the fold." My aunt spoke of it for days ahead. That night I was escorted to the front row and placed on the mourners' bench with all the other young sinners, who had not yet been brought to Jesus.
My aunt told me that when you were saved you saw a light, and something happened to you inside! And Jesus came into your life! And God was with you from then on! She said you could see and hear and feel Jesus in your soul. I believed her. I had heard a great many old people say the same thing and it seemed to me they ought to know. So I sat there calmly in the hot, crowded church, waiting for Jesus to come to me.
“Shadow Over Me” by Anonymous
For the first twelve years of my life, I was a happy child who enjoyed the companionship of friends and had no worries. Then one day in seventh grade, during math class, that all changed thanks to a conversation I had with Brandon Capecci, a guy I had first met a few years before on a fifth grade class camping trip. He told me that I was unpopular.
Let me tell you first off, I was not at all the same person in seventh grade as I am today. For one thing, I was totally ignorant to any understanding of the middle school social system. I assumed most people liked me and those who didn’t were just below my level. Second, popularity is not something I worry about now, not because my social positioning has changed but simply because it is a subject I find immature and superficial. I am writing about this event for the sole reason that it changed the way I lived my life for the next three years. Now that all of that is out of the way, I will continue with my story.
“Leaving the Ground” by Anonymous
I didn't want to go. I knew I didn't want to go when I woke up. It was 7:45, an ungodly hour to wake up at, especially when it was a Saturday in the middle of August. I knew I didn't want to go when I was brushing my teeth, eating my breakfast, brushing my hair, packing my bag. I knew I didn't want to go, but I was still going. I still put on my shoes. I still walked up the street to my best friend's house and got in her car. I kept going because I knew she needed this. I knew her life was falling apart and she needed this. She needed one day when she didn't have to be the glue.
“It Beat Me Up and Ran Away” by Anonymous
No one seemed to notice the pool of blood forming at my feet. It was two o’clock, Ms. Fernandez was talking about indirect object pronouns, and there was a knife in my stomach. It was right above my belly button, this knife, and it sat there, an ache resonating through my body, until it yanked itself out and thrust into another part of my abdomen. I winced and dropped the pencil as the knife entered. Ms. Fernandez continued to discuss proper Spanish grammar.
“Blacklisted” by Chelsea Handler
When the subjective is an infinitive phrase
We begin a sentence with it when the real subject is an infinitive phrase. So instead of saying, ‘To accept your advice is difficult’, we say, ‘It is difficult to accept your advice’.
Structure: It + verb + subject complement + infinitive phrase (real subject)
It is easy to learn English. (= To learn English is easy.)
It is easy to find fault with others. (= To find fault with others is easy.)
It is difficult to know his motive. (= To know his motive is difficult.)
It is difficult to find a good job during these troubled times.
It is dangerous to play with fire.
It could be dangerous to drive so fast.
Note that when we wish to emphasize the infinitive phrase, it may be put at the beginning, especially when it is short.
To err is human. (OR It is human to err.)
To become a well known writer was his life-long ambition. (OR It was his lifelong ambition to become a well known writer.)
To invest all your money in shares is foolish. (OR It is foolish to invest all your money in shares.)
When the subject is a gerund phrase
When the real subject is a phrase that includes a gerund, it is used as a provisional subject to begin the sentence. So instead of saying ‘Your trying to fool us is no good’, we say, ‘It is no good your trying to fool us.’
It won’t be any good complaining to the manager. (Complaining to the manager won’t be any good.)
It is silly throwing away this opportunity. (Throwing away this opportunity is silly.)
Will it be any good my talking to him about it? (Will my talking to him about it be any good?)
It is no fun having so many children to look after. (Having so many children to look after is no fun.)
Note that it is possible to change the gerund into an infinitive.
It won’t be any good for me to complain to the manager.
It is silly (for you) to throw away this opportunity.
Will it be any good for me to talk to him about it?
Many of these sentences can also be re-written as exclamatory sentences.
How silly of you to throw away this opportunity!
October 14, 2011 -
When the subject is an infinitive phrase, the sentence often begins with it. However, when we wish to emphasize the infinitive phrase, it can be put at the beginning, especially if it is short.
Rewrite the following sentences using ‘introductory it’.
1. To become a millionaire was his life-long ambition.
2. To withdraw now will be sheer folly.
3. To err is human, to forgive, divine.
4. To learn English is easy.
5. To understand his motive was difficult.
6. To think of it now would be premature.
7. To drive so fast could be dangerous.
8. To get such an offer must be tempting.
9. To consult specialists must be advisable.
10. To accept your advice is difficult.
1. It was his life-long ambition to become a millionaire.
2. It will be sheer folly to withdraw now.
3. It is human to err; it is divine to forgive.
4. It is easy to learn English.
5. It was difficult to understand his motive.
6. It would be premature to think of it now.
7. It could be dangerous to drive so fast.
8. It must be tempting to get such an offer.
9. It must be advisable to consult specialists.
10. It is difficult to accept advice.
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Englisch-hilfen.de – Learning English Online
One the hardest part of IELTS writing module is writing the introduction. If you have a good technique for this, then the rest of the task is easy.
The first thing to note is that writing about Tables, Graphs and Diagrams is not the same as writing an essay in IELTS writing task 2:
1. Identify the main idea behind the graph or table. This will be the focus of your first sentence.
2. Consider the details of what is being shown - the units of measurement and the time frame - and decide how much you need to include.
3. Consider the language to use - the introductory expressions, the tenses of the verbs, the correct expressions of time and I or measurement etc.Three possible ways to start
1. Refer to the visual directly (e.g. This graph shows the population of Canada in from 1867 up to 2007.) However, this method is not advisable, since the instructions in the IELIS test will normally give you just this information. If you copy directly from the paper you are wasting time, since the examiner cannot assess your English from a copied sentence.
2. Refer directly to the main message conveyed by the visual (e.g. There was a sharp increase in the population of Canada from 1867 up to 2007.) This way is perfectly acceptable, and shows that you are able to recognise the main concept or message that the graph or table shows.
3. Combine the two (e.g. The graph shows that there was a sharp increase in the population of Canada from 1867 up to 2007.) This is also acceptable, and is often used as a convenient way to start. In order to use this method, it is necessary to use a few fixed expressions, which refer to the text itself, like those below.Introductory Expression
It is always best to avoid using personal pronouns. Instead of saying We can see from the graph. . it is better to use the passive or impersonal constructions .
Most of the above expressions can be followed by a clause starting with that .
Several of the above expressions can be followed by a noun or noun phrase .
Several of the above expressions must be followed by a main clause.
1. Avoid using the phrase: according to the graph. This is because the phrase according to generally means that the information comes from another person or source, and not from our own knowledge. (For example, According to Handbook, the Archaic Period started around 7000 BCE and ended around 1200 BCE .)
In the case of a graph or table that is shown, the information is there right in front of you, the writer, and also the reader, and so you know it does not come from another source.
2. The expressions as can be seen from the graph or as is shown/illustrated by the table do NOT contain the dummy subject it . Avoid these expressions if you think you are going to forget this unusual grammar.
3. Avoid using the word presents. It requires a sophisticated summarising noun to follow. (For example: The graph presents an overview of the population growth of Canada between 1867 and 2007 .)