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Tip One: Signal What's Ahead

An introduction is like an arrow pointing your reader in the right direction. It helps her see what's ahead and clues her in to the main idea or thesis of the essay. An introduction doesn't always include the thesis, but it will at least point towards one.

Take a look at the following introduction:
For most of my early life, I've thought of life as stream. You just get on your inner tube and float where the current takes you. I believed that a person should just go with the flow. I never once sat down and asked myself "what do I want?" or "where am I headed?" Two years ago, though, I had a revelation. All my friends were getting into college, finding better jobs and meeting new friends, but I was still in the same place. I kept trying to figure out what was wrong, and then one day I discovered what I had been missing: I didn't have a goal. Laurence Peter once wrote that "if you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up someplace else." To make things happen, you need to clearly imagine where you want to be in the future. The experiences of the last two years have really taught me that goal-setting, even more than raw talent, is what leads to success.

— Florida Carasa - CUNY student
Step One: What's the thesis or main idea of this essay? Explain in the box below.

(Forgot what a thesis is? Click here for a reminder.)

Step 2: Do you have a rough idea of what lies ahead in this essay? In other words, what do you think Florida is going to do next?

   Find out more about writing introductions. »

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