Writing About Literature: Drafting Introduction and Conclusion Paragraphs

Contributor: Melissa Kowalski. Lesson ID: 12881

How would a dog function without a head and a tail? How do you catch a fish's attention? An essay without an introduction and conclusion and hook is just as odd and ineffective, so learn to use them!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • What do the two shapes above have in common with essay writing?
  • How can they help you?
  • What do an hourglass and a circle made out of arrows have in common with each other and with essay writing?

The answer is that an essay can be thought of as both shapes. In turn, these two shapes influence the structure of the introduction and conclusion paragraphs in an essay.

Before continuing on, if you missed or would like to review the previous Related Lessons in our Literary Response Paper series, find them in the right-hand sidebar.

Hourglass Essay

If an essay is thought of as an hourglass, the introduction is the top part of the hourglass.

Here, the essay starts with a broad concept and the introductory paragraph gradually narrows down the subject of the paragraph to the thesis sentence. This is called an inverted pyramid.

The thesis is where the claim of the essay is made and the supporting points are introduced.

The narrow part of the hourglass is the body of the essay. This is where the specific points of the essay are made and the details of the text are explained for a literary response essay.

The conclusion is the bottom part of the hourglass where the specific points from the body paragraphs are summarized, then the essay gradually broadens back out to a general statement or thought to conclude the essay.

Circle Essay

If an essay is thought of as a circle, it means the introduction is the beginning point on the circle. The thesis is explained at the end of the introductory paragraph before the paper transitions into the body paragraphs.

The body paragraphs are where the specific points of the essay are made and the details of the text are explained for a literary response essay.

The conclusion then summarizes the body paragraph topics, and the concluding technique at the end of the conclusion paragraph coordinates with the method used to start the essay.

This makes it appear as though the essay has come "full circle" — returning to the same technique that was used to begin the essay.

  • Which shape would you like to use for your essay?

Choose one and read the information below for the shape you chose:

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  • Have you reviewed the essay type you chose?


  • Are you wondering what types of techniques or hooks can be used to start a paper?

Watch the video How To: Writing Hooks or Attention-Getting Openings from USATestprep:

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Here are some options you can include in your hook:

  • a question
  • an interesting statistic
  • a surprising fact
  • a descriptive setting
  • dialogue (people talking)
  • a bold statement
  • a story

Now that you are familiar with the two shapes an essay can take and the types of hooks that can be used to start an essay, move on to the Got It? section to practice writing introductions and conclusions.

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