Professor Pedantic 教授的考究學問
The professor awaits your query on academic writing, though in all honesty, he doesn’t have a lot of time for you. He is a tenured full professor and working on yet another magnificent academic tome. Even so, he has graciously consented to entertain your question. Submit it and prepare to be edified.

QUESTION: I struggled to come up with an interesting introduction to my paper. My instructor said it was just “OK.” What guidelines are there for writing an introduction that will grab the reader?

Choose an interesting subject. Next question? Seriously, the hunt for an interesting introduction begins with choosing a subject worthy of a reader’s interest. Creating interest from a pile of boredom is a mighty labor indeed, so give yourself (and your readers) a break and choose your subject wisely. Now if your next question is, how do I choose an interesting subject, there might be no hope for you. The answer is, choose a subject that interests you. If you are interested, you will research and write with inspiration and zeal and it will show—including in the introduction.

As for the mechanics of creating an interesting introduction, several tools are recommended. One is to startle the reader with a piece of revelation—a fact you have unearthed, perhaps, or a fresh perspective that forces a reader to adjust his thinking so he can follow where you plan to take him. Imagine your reader blinking his eyes and saying under his breath, “Hmm. That’s interesting.” That’s what you are after. You can also accomplish this by posing one or two provocative questions, or by quoting a recognized authority, which lends immediate credibility.

Hereafter, a word of caution: Don’t try for a zinger. The difference between a zinger and an interesting, even provocative, introduction is that a zinger tries too hard. It clearly exists only to shock, rather than to, as you say, “grab the reader.” Your goal is to grab someone, not to push him away. Examples: (1) “High fashion isn’t so new: A red dye for cosmetics dates to the Aztecs.” (Hmm. Interesting.) (2) “Crush the shell of a certain pregnant insect and you can color your lips red.” (Gross!) Know where the line is between interesting readers and insulting them.

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