INTRODUCTIONS (LEADS) Creative introduction Action introduction Dialogue introduction Personal introduction Question introduction Quotation introduction CREATIVE LEADS A creative lead catches the reader off-guard with an opening statement that leaves the reader smiling or wondering what the rest of the essay contains. EXAMPLES Imagine yourself a freshman in high school, beginning your independence. As the oldest child, I was the first to begin exploring the worlds of dating, extra-curricular clubs and upperclassmen. However, one afternoon my parents sat my two sisters and me down. They said. . . OR I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch hour breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees; I write award-winning operas; I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row. Explanation: Both of these creative leads engage the reader, one placing the reader in the author’s shoes, and the other amusing the reader by listing bizarre achievements. ACTION LEADS An action lead takes the reader into the middle of an action sequence. It forces the reader to read on to discover its significance. Perfect for short essays where space is an issue or for narrative essays that begin with a story line. EXAMPLES I promised God I would eat all my peas, obey my parents, clean my room, do my homework, and never cause anyone a moment’s bother, but He didn’t care. I could hear my father pace. With each heavy step echoing loudly throughout the silent house, my family’s anxiety and anticipation mounted while awaiting news of my grandfather’s health. My heart racing, I watched the clock, amazed that time could crawl so slowly. Finally, the telephone interrupted the house’s solemn silence. I heard my father repeating the words, “yes, yes, of course.” OR Surrounded by thousands of stars, complete silence, and spectacular mountains, I stood atop New Hampshire’s Presidential Range, awestruck by nature’s beauty immediately, I realized that I must dedicate my life to understanding the causes of the universe’s magnificence. Note the images created by these two leads. The first of a troubled grandchild, beseeching God’s aid and the DIALOGUE LEAD Like the action lead, the dialogue lead brings the reader directly into the action, only this time in the form of dialogue. EXAMPLES “You can just take that back, boy!” This order, given by me to Cecil Jacobs, was the beginning of a rather thin time for Jem and me. My fists were clenched and I was ready to let fly. Attica had promised me he would wear me out if he ever heard of me fighting any more; I was far too old and too big for such childish things. - To Kill a Mockingbird OR On the verge of losing consciousness, I asked myself, “Why am I doing this?” Why was I punishing my body? I had no answer; my mind blanked out from exhaustion and terror. I had no time to second-guess myself with a terrifying man leaning over my shoulder yelling, “You can break six minutes!” As flecks of spit flew from his mouth and landed on the handle bar of the ergo meter, I longed to be finished with my first Saturday rowing practice and my first fifteenhundred-meter “erg test.” A key aspect of the first of these leads is the identity awareness of growing up with bias. The second Of these leads engages the reader with the question, which becomes a life of its own, where the reader wonders as well. Why does he do this? PERSONAL INTRODUCTION LEAD The Personal Introduction lead takes the reader into the writer’s mind. It says, “This is what it is like to be me.” It is always in the first person and usually takes an informal, conversational tone. EXAMPLES OF PERSONAL INTRODUCTION LEADS I chuckle to myself every time I think about this. I am perceived as a mild-mannered, intelligent individual until I mention that I am involved in riflery. OR . ANOTHER EXAMPLE “Yuk! I hate history. I don’t want to know what happened a hundred years ago. I’m interested in the present and the future.” These remarks may be heard in many middle school hallways. I know I felt the same way when I was about twelve or thirteen, but then I started reading historical fiction and realized that studying history could be like reading or listening to a story. Once my approached changed, so did my attitude toward my history classes. QUESTION INTRODUCTION LEAD If you choose this type of lead, make sure that your question is an extremely compelling one and that your experiences provide answers. Otherwise, your lead may come off as a “lazy introduction.” EXAMPLE Influence? Why is it that the people who influence us most influence us in ways that are not easily quantified? Through her work with the homeless, my mother has shown me the heroism of selfless dedication to a worthy cause. With one word, this introduction takes an essay question about the person who has most influenced you and turns it back around. The reader is compelled to read further and discover more. QUOTATION INTRODUCTION LEAD The quotation introduction is most effective when the quote you choose is unusual, funny, or obscure, not too long, and from those to whom you are closest. Choose a quote with a meaning you plan to reveal to the reader as the essay progresses. EXAMPLE “Experience is what you receive when you don’t get what you want.” I remember my father’s words as I tried to interpret the value of my stock portfolio plummeting fast. Retirement will have to wait, dreams of relaxing days will have to wait, and major repairs will have to wait. I couldn’t imagine the many experiences I will receive because of the falling market.
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