When it comes to writing, I like to think of your introductory paragraph in an essay or a paper as the road map to your argument. Your introductory paragraph should express your main idea very directly and very specifically.
Well-written essays and papers have main ideas that are evident from the very beginning. The message should not be unclear or cloaked in too many words. As the writer, you need to state what you will be talking about, proving, dismissing, etc. This should be clear right away. The reader does not need to excavate two paragraphs to know what you will be discussing; it’s all right there in the introduction.
In the same sense, what the rest of essay or paper will look like is evident. The writer’s next few sentences in the introductory paragraph guide the reader. Each paragraph should then bring up a new point to support the thesis statement.
Just as no one wants a flat tire on a trip, there should not be any surprises along the way in a paper. You should know what you would be getting into as a reader from the writer’s introductory paragraph. Consider it your roadmap.
For additional insights and writing support watch our blog entries. Another great resource is the Purdue OWL.