F.G.’s opening ‘grabber’

Fairy tales mostly happen in “once upon a time” land, which wouldn’t be on a map.

I love this!

Here’s a copy edit for tone:

Fairy tales happen in “once upon a time” land, which does not appear on a map.


Fairy tales happen in “once upon a time” land, which does not appear on any map.

Not sure whether I prefer “a” or “any.”

Excellent introduction by J.G.

In just three sentences, J.G. makes an important and arresting observation about the nature of fables and their characters:

Aesop’s fables, which date back to the 5th Century BC, share similar themes. Because their themes are expressed through characters, they share similar characters as well. In fact, the characters in fables are so similar it would be impossible to tell them apart without reading the stories themselves. There are three primary types of characters in fables: wise, foolish, and clever.

Introductions in English papers

From W.W. Norton & Company’s LitWeb:

Your essay’s beginning, or introduction, should draw readers in and prepare them for what’s to come by:

  • articulating the thesis;
  • providing whatever basic information—about the text, the author, and/or the topic—readers will need to follow the argument; and
  • creating interest in the thesis by demonstrating that there is a problem or question that it resolves or answers.

This final task involves showing readers why your thesis isn’t dull or obvious, establishing a specific motive for the essay and its readers. There are numerous possible motives, but writing expert Gordon Harvey has identified three especially common ones:

  1. The truth isn’t what one would expect or what it might appear to be on a first reading.
  2. There’s an interesting wrinkle in the text—a paradox, a contradiction, a tension.
  3. A seemingly tangential or insignificant matter is actually important or interesting.

Beginning: The Introduction

Germanna Community College on the Introduction

The introduction is usually 3-6 sentences long, and it establishes the mood and setting of the essay. Try to utilize use one of the following creative approaches to introduce the subject:*

1. ..A meaningful quote
2. ..A personal experience (probably not in English
3. ..A universal idea
4. ..A vivid description
5. ..An analogy
6. ..Historical background of your topic
7. ..An anecdote (probably not in English 109…)
8. ..A question
9. ..A shocking statistic
10. A statement stressing the significance of your

The thesis statement will usually follow the creative opening; consequently, there should be a smooth transition from one to the other. The thesis statement is conventionally placed at the end of the introductory paragraph.

Guide to Writing an Essay
Germanna Community College

Numbers 1, 3, 8, and 10 are probably most useful for English papers. Number 6 could also work well, and I can imagine number 5 providing a good opening in some cases, too.

No doubt an experienced writer could use any device on the list and make it work, but I would advise novices to steer clear of numbers 2 and 7.

* I have yet to read a passage in which the word “utilize” sounds better than the word “use.” I’m sure they’re out there, but this isn’t one of them. Not for me, at least. Hence the copy edit.