A good essay introduction serves three purposes: it grabs the readers’ attention, introduces the topic and states the thesis statement (i.e. the writer’s stance on the topic). At best, the writer is clear and engaging, making the readers want to read on. At worst, he or she bores or confuses them to the point that they are discouraged to read any further. In other words, a lot depends on the first few sentences of an essay.

There are several methods to structure an introduction, but the most prominent one is probably the funnel.

As the name already suggests, a funnel introduction begins broad and then slowly narrows down to the more specific.

In the first sentence, you should grab the reader’s attention with a broader introductory statement, e.g. an interesting quote or a fact related to your topic.

After that, you need to lead the reader step by step to your thesis statement. For a short expository essay, 4-5 sentences before the thesis statement should be enough. Try to become more specific with each sentence, but remember that your sentences always have to be connected to each other and your topic (this is actually the most difficult part of writing a funnel).

At the end, state your thesis and then give a brief outline of how you will proceed in your analysis.

Tips for Writing a Funnel Introduction

  • Your thesis statement should be fixed by the time you start writing your funnel.
  • Keep to the point. Don’t go too broad or become too descriptive.
  • If you’re asked to follow the MLA guidelines, avoid starting the introduction with a question or using personal pronouns (I, you, we).
  • Your thesis should be the last sentence of your introduction—otherwise it’s not a funnel introduction.
  • Be concise. Don’t make your sentences too long.
  • Make sure the transition to your thesis is smooth. Don’t hit the reader with your thesis without a warning.

What do you think makes a good introduction? Have you ever worked with the funnel method? Let me know in the comments!


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