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!

categories

Writing

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

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

What do the two shapes above have in common with essay writing? How can they help you?

You might be thinking, "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

  • 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, which is the most specific single statement about the paper's topic.
  • 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

  • If an essay is thought of as a circle, it means the introduction is the beginning point on the circle and 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, so it appears that the essay has come "full circle" — returning to the same technique that was used to begin the essay.

Now that you know the two "shapes" an essay can have, reflect on the following questions on a separate sheet of paper:

  • What do you think are the advantages of treating an essay like an hourglass? What are the potential risks or disadvantages of treating an essay like an hourglass?
  • What are the benefits of thinking of an essay like a circle? What are the potential disadvantages of thinking of an essay like a circle?
  • Which shape do you like best and why does this shape appeal to you for an essay?

If you think of an essay like an hourglass, you want to start the introduction with a broad approach. You want to then gradually narrow down until you get to the thesis statement. For a literary response essay, the thesis is the claim that you are making about the novel that you chose and the supporting points that prove the claim. The thesis should be the final sentence in the introduction so the reader knows exactly what supporting points the paper is using to prove the claim.

For an hourglass-shaped paper, the conclusion gradually broadens out from summarizing the supporting points of the essay to a broad, general reflection on the topic. A question that makes the reader think about the subject in a new way is an effective concluding technique for an hourglass-shaped paper because it gives the reader "food for thought" when finishing the essay.


If you use a circle shape, you can start the introduction with a variety of approaches. These are sometimes called "hooks" because they are intended to get a reader's interest — to hook a reader into the essay. The introduction then narrows down to the thesis statement, which is the claim the paper is making about a text in a literary response paper. The thesis should be the final sentence in the introduction and include the supporting points so the reader knows what arguments to look for in the body of the essay.

For a circular paper, the conclusion summarizes the supporting points of the essay first. Then, the conclusion ends with a technique that coordinates with the "hook" used in the introduction. For example, if the introduction begins with a question, the conclusion can end with the answer. If the introduction begins with a story, the conclusion can end with the results of the story or finish the story. This gives the essay a sense of completeness and "closing the circle" by returning to the point where it began.


You might be asking what types of techniques or "hooks" can be used to start a paper. Watch the following video on hooks. As you watch How to write a hook, by Mister Sato, write down the five types of hooks:

 

After watching the video and taking notes on the types of hooks, write down your answers to the following questions on a separate sheet of paper:

  • What type of essay shape best fits the inverted pyramid hook? Why?
  • Why are facts and statistics useful methods for getting a reader's interest?
  • What is a potential risk when using anecdotes (short stories) or personal experiences as a hook?
  • Why are anecdotes and personal experiences useful for circular-shaped essays?
  • How can rhetorical questions be used effectively in both hourglass- and circular-shaped essays?
  • What hooks should writers avoid and why should they be avoided?
  • Why should a writer never skip a hook?

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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