How to Write an Effective Essay: The Introduction


Hi, James from engVid. I'm having a hard time reading this paper because a lot of the articles

just don't interest me. And that's a problem, because this is a paper. They make money because

people want to read what they have to say. Now, you are probably not writing for a newspaper

or a magazine, but I bet you're in school writing essays, or you wouldn't be looking

at this particular video, which is about, well, what is it? It is the ultimate intro.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Okay, the ultimate intro to what? To writing essays. A lot of you are

studying for TOEFL, IELTS, or TOEIC, or you just want to write and you want to write well

in English. Well, this lesson, what we're going to do is we're going to specialize on

the introduction. I did another lesson, one of the five-point or the five-part essay.

If you go back and look, it's up on engVid right now, and it shows the parts of the essay

and generally went over it. But then I thought, "You know what?" And I actually had a student

thank you from Canada, Toronto, walk up to me one night and said, "You do English lesson

on essay?" And I went, "Yeah." She went, "More." So I went, "Okay, here we are." So what I

want to do is I want to help you write the ultimate intro. I'm going to give you the

basics so you can do something that will make you -- well, there are four reasons for a

good intro. Number one, if you do a good intro, your whole essay will be easier to write,

and I'll show you why in a second or two, because the introduction is like a seed. You

know when you have an apple, the little brown thing? You take the little seed, drop it in

the ground, a tree grows, okay? If you do the right introduction, it'll grow the best

tree. I'll make it simple for you, okay? Another thing is, with a good introduction, it helps

you by giving the details that you want to give to the reader right there so they know

if they want to read it or not, okay? It also makes it easier for the reader to understand

and follow, right? So we've got number one, easier for you to write. Number two, easier

for the -- oh, sorry, makes it better for the reader to follow. Number three, it gives

the order of your argument, right? You can say, "I'm going to say this, and they're going

to talk about this, this, and this," so they know what's going on, okay? And number four,

it gives the details. You go, "The story's about one, two, three, four." They understand.

So why don't we get to it instead of just talking about it? You notice I have something

weird on the board today. Ezekiel's also confused. He's going, "What is this?" It looks like

a diagram for Star Trek, the engine room, right? "Captain here on the fallopian tubes."

Did I say fallopian tubes? They don't have fallopian tubes. That'll be another lesson.

But what we set out is the outline, and what I want you to do is if you -- what you want

to do is before you write an essay, you want to write out this outline every time. I'm

going to go through and give you the particular parts, and then you can fill it in, all right?

So why don't we start off at the beginning? Up here is what we call a "grabber," okay?

The grabber. And you're going to say, "What is a grabber?" Well, it's not "grab her."

Don't get a girl and grab her. You'll go to jail. What you want to do is catch someone's

attention. If you remember rightly, I said I'm not really interested in what was in the

paper, and I wasn't. And it's simply because they didn't grab my intention. To grab means

to catch and hold. They didn't catch it and hold it. Now, a good grabber -- I wrote this

here, but what a good grabber will do is will make you read it, look at it at first, and

then make you want to go deeper. Well, how do we get a good grabber? Well, there are

five basic ways we usually talk about. Five-finger method, all right? Now, number one is this.

Hold on. Why did the chicken cross the road? Come on. You want to know, right? Okay. To

go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and see its relatives, you like, right? You're like, "It's horrible.

It's horrible." But it's a joke. Sometimes you can actually start off an essay with a

joke, a little bit of a joke. It makes people go, "That's funny." And then I'm going to

say, "Why did you tell me this joke? I grabbed you. I got you. Now you're curious about what

else I have to say, even if it's not the best joke." Okay? Now, sometimes we want to be

a little bit more serious because we are obviously studying at higher institutes of learning,

all right? And if you're doing that, then you might want to go a little bit higher.

You might want to put down the old proverbial proverb, you know? "A bird in the hand" -- oops,

sorry. That's "proverd." I perverd something else, but I didn't write it. All right. Proverb,

all right? And, you know, a proverb is basically something that's been written a long time

ago. Everybody kind of knows it. We don't know who said it. "A bird in the hand" is

better than "two in the bush." George Bush, I'm not talking about you. Okay? You know,

everybody knows these things. I mean, that one is in several languages. People literally

have told me. We have it in my language. Who made it? We don't know. But then sometimes

you want to get a little bit more, you know, poignant, or you want to get a little bit

more serious, so you want to use a quote. One of my favorite quotes is by a guy named

Winston Churchill, our Prime Minister of England. And one day I'll wear my England shirt with

my name on it. Look out for that lesson, okay? Anyway, he said, "I am always ready to learn.

However, I am not always prepared to be taught." And that's where I kind of get my philosophy

for teaching as well, right? Like, people always want to learn. They never say, "I don't

want to learn English." They just might not like your style of teaching, so you have to

adapt, right? So you might have a quote, which I just gave you.

The next is this, because that's sometimes a little bit what we call "fru-fru," a little

bit. You might want to bring it a little bit more down to earth, and you might want to

use your own anecdote, a little story from your life, you know? So you're talking about

the essay, and you go, "In my life, maybe I came from a small town up in New Haven."

I'm making this up. It's a story, right? "And everybody was poor, but the one thing we had

was soul. We cared," right? And then you might turn around and say in your essay, "It's this

caring that makes humanity work. It doesn't matter what we have." And you go, "Oh my God,

that's so deep," right? So an anecdote can do that.

Now, there's a couple other things, because if you're doing -- well, maybe, as I said,

you might not be in school. Maybe you're doing business, and there are a couple other things

that would work well for you. Well, one is a surprising fact. Oh, I shouldn't have told

you yet. Did you know one in two people are female? Yeah, of course you did. That's not

a surprising fact, but you get the drift. When I say you get the drift, you get the

general idea, which basically means you tell people something that they may not have known.

Completely surprises them. Like diet cola will rot your brain and give you brain cancer.

I'm sure you're like, "Please do that!" right now, right? You're like, "Oh my God, no one

told me this." Yeah, it's possible, okay? So it's a surprising fact.

And if that doesn't work, this one always works. I guarantee it. You know how I can

guarantee it? Okay, how about this? How would you like to make a million dollars in the

next ten minutes? All right? Okay, now the engVid server is crashing, because you're

all going, "How? How do I make the money? How do I make the money?" And this is when

we use... we use your curiosity. I'm going to ask you a question. You start with a question.

People are like, "I need to know. I want to know the answer to this question." These are

your grabbers. So, sorry it took so long to get to it, but this is an important thing.

Because if you don't have my attention, you've got nothing. So I might waste three minutes

of your time now explaining it, but understand, without these things at the beginning of your

paper, nobody wants to read it. And worse, your teacher who has to read it doesn't want

to read it. You don't want them to start off negatively. You want them totally interested

and captivated. Captivated means like capture, hold on to. They're held. Okay? Now, that's

your grabber. And now you have the five grabbers that we can possibly use, okay? So that's

five of them. So what's the next part? Now you've got a grabber. I might say to you,

"What the hell are you talking about? What do you want to tell me? You've got my attention.

I'm curious. What are you talking about?" This is where we come up with topic. Your

topic is your subject. Okay? So here, this is the attention. We want your attention.

Attention Kmart shoppers. Okay? But now we want to know the subject. What are you going

to talk about? Money? Sex? Drugs? Rock and roll? Ezekiel? Dun-dun-dun-dun. Yes, there

are things about Ezekiel you don't know. Okay? Now, topic is good, but let's just say something

like I came up to you and said, "I am the richest man in Canada." I wish I was. Gail

Weston. Tonight. Okay. "I am the richest man in Canada." You're going to say, "James, prove

it. How do I know you are the richest man in Canada?" Well, for this, I'm going to have

to give you reasons. If I don't have reasons for saying what I'm going to say, why would

you believe me? You're going to say, "I don't think so." So I need to give you reasons.

Now, to keep it simple, I'm going to say, "Let's talk about three reasons." You could

have ten reasons. You could have two. You want to have more than one. Okay? When I talked

about the five-paragraph essay, I talked about introduction, the body, and I said three main

reasons, and then I said conclusion. So we're going to stick with that formula. Okay? So

let's say we have three reasons. They can be any reasons you want, but they should be

related back to the topic. I say this because of that. Okay?

Another thing we can say of that would be, "Main ideas." All right? They're going to

end up being your main ideas. There will be a second part to this, which will be based

on the body, and we're going to take these reasons and make them the main ideas in the

body. Okay? Cool? All right. Let's keep going. So you know there's got to be another part

to this. Yay. All right? So we have our reasons here, and we'll list them one, two, three.

Number one, number two, number three. Okay? Now, here's the cool thing. Now, notice I

put one, two, and three reasons. These are the first things that come to my mind, but

really, when I put the word "order" over here, you can make up the order. What is stronger?

Because when we have an essay, what we want to do is start from the weakest idea and go

to the strongest. Building, right? You start with a dollar, you add two, you add three,

you get more and more. You don't start with ten and go to one. That's weak, right? We

want more. So here, when we put "order", you might put one, two, three here, but you might

say, "Okay, actually, this should go first, this should go second, and this should go

third." So you can organize. Remember I talked about the order? You can organize your thoughts

before you write the paper, because it's harder to get rid of words, right, than when we start

with a skeleton. Because remember, this will be like one, two, three words. I'm going to

demonstrate quite quickly at the end how we would do a very quick intro. All right?

Now, finally, now you've got your grabber and your topic, and you've got your reasons

for it. You've told me what you want to talk about. You got my attention, but you haven't

told me what you're arguing. Why are you talking about this? Why is this important to me? This

comes down to one of the most important and yet fundamental parts of writing in English.

The thesis. Here we go. The thesis comes last, but sometimes it's first. The reason why,

or what I want you to believe, what I want you to understand, what I want you to change

your mind to. Now, if you're saying you're selling something, it's the reason why you

should buy my product. My product is a car. This is what's good about it, but ultimately,

this is why. It's the best, and why it's the best.

Now, to write a thesis can be most difficult. Can be, or we can make it simple. One of the

easiest ways to do it is, well, if you've got a topic, do you like it, or don't you

like it? Positive or negative? Do I support it? Am I against it? Once you figure that

out, it's not that hard to write a thesis, because the next stage we're going to go to

is W5. W5 is who, what, where, when, why, and how. That's that tiny thing that you're

not supposed to see, because it's not really a W, but how are you is a question, right?

It's an information question. We need to draw information. What we're going to do here is

we start with a topic, and we start doing the W5s, like why is it important, who is

affected by it, when was it invented, where would you find it, this kind of thing. We

start with a question, and it gives us a question about the subject itself. Now, what we can

do from that, once we've decided if we want to be positive or negative, and we have a

W5, we flip this, get rid of it. Literally, when we do questions in English, we have "How

are you?" and then we can flip it around and say, "Okay, good idea. What do you like?"

We get rid of it, we flip it around and go, "I like this." So we flip a question into

a statement by taking the verb and the subject and flipping them, and you can say, "Boom,

boom, boom." Good example. "Well, I like fighting." Who is affected by fighting? You might say,

"Who is affected by fighting?" Your strong statement? Everyone, because the answer will

predict your strong statement. So when we go from the question, we get an answer, and

then we make that the strong statement. So, "Who is affected by fighting?" Everyone. Strong

statement? Everyone is affected by fighting. Therefore, because I hate it, it must be ended.

Wow, easy steps. Hook a topic, boom, boom, boom, we get a thesis. Now, of course, it's

going to take a little longer, but I'm going to take a second or two to go through an example

one for you right now, because when I give you this introduction, it should take you

five, ten minutes to come up with one. Of course, you're going to have to fill it out

with sentences, but you should get the basic essence down very quickly, because, of course,

you're good students and you've studied, right? So let's take a look.

You know this one is a grabber. You know this is topic, and you know this is your argument.

What you want to argue, I should say. Your argument, what you want to argue. So let's

do a grabber. "All is fair in love and war." Subject, fighting. Fighting. Now, we've got

our grabber. You've got my attention. "All is fair" -- what are you talking about? Love,

war, what? Now I'm telling you the subjects about fighting, then we're going to say, "Well,

what about fighting?" Power. Hurt. When you fight, you get power from fighting. When you

fight, people get hurt. People get hurt when you fight. Let's say solution. "Okay, James,

so far you've written this, but it's not helping me." I go, "I'm not finished. This is my argument."

Because now we're going to do the thesis. Remember, we can go positive or negative.

Of course, most of you are thinking fighting is bad, right? And it's about power, hurting

people, and solutions. I'm telling you fighting is good. I decided I'm going to go positive.

What? You're crazy. I am. You haven't figured this out? Too late. Fighting is -- I'm going

to say fighting -- well, before I even get there, because I'm going to say fighting is

good -- W5, W5, W5, W5. I'm going to now find some reason to come in here and make it positive.

"How can fighting help us?" "When does fighting do the most damage?" Or, "When does fighting

do the best in a relationship?" "Who is the best fighter?" See, these are W5s. I said

I want to be positive. So now I'm going to do this W5 thing. I'm going to go, "Okay,

okay, okay, okay, okay, okay. Fight." "Fighting is the only way to heal the world." What?

Now he's gone crazy. That worm is in his brain. No. Hear me out. I'm going to show you how

this essay works. I know it's crazy. It's a mess, but you're going to hear me out, okay?

I'm going -- I've done my W5. I think positive. I went, "How" -- I used a "how" -- and I said

strong statement. "How strong?" Look, "the only." The best thing to do in a thesis is

use superlatives, strong language. No "maybe," no "if" or "might." Be strong. Hard, okay?

So I said, "The only way." Of course, you either agree or disagree, and this is what's

necessary with a thesis. And if you look, I've outlined everything, but now I quickly

will go over it so you can see my ideas for my essay. "All is fair in love and war." Two

opposites, we would say, right? And then I said, "Fighting" -- and look at the subjects.

I put "power," "hurt," and "solution." Well, fighting is about power. We could say fighting

is about personal power, and we get power from ourselves to know who we are when we

fight for what we believe in. Huh, didn't see that, did you? Okay, boom. I got my -- I've

got it, okay? So I've got my grabber, and I'm going to come down to this part later.

I've got to slow down. I've got to calm down. It's getting exciting. I want to fight, see?

I want to fight, okay? So that's the first thing, personal power. We only discover who

we are by fighting for what we believe. "Hurt" -- yes, people do get hurt, but it's only

when you do get hurt from fighting do you understand what you are losing and what is

necessary to you. "Hurt" -- we just use "fighting" for "hurt," and we use "pain" to show it's

good, because that makes you want to step up, because when you do get hurt, it makes

you want to do more to protect yourself and the things you love. And "solution" -- only

when you have fought for something and got a solution will you protect that solution.

Ooh, yeah. Not so crazy, because I'm sure you're going, "Interesting." That's the power

of a good argument. When one knows how to argue correctly, one can take something that

seems crazy and make it completely logical. Fighting is the only way to heal the world.

"Through each person gaining their own personal power, learning that what hurts them is what

they need to protect, and fighting solutions so that we fought for it, and fighting to

keep these solutions, can we heal the problems of the world." You can't walk away from your

responsibilities. Didn't see that, did you? All from this. Now, of course, we'd make sentences.

The final part of this whole thing is "related." If you noticed, I carefully made sure this

was related to this, was related to this. You cannot just write up abstract things.

Things that are just ideas that have no connection. We have to relate them. So we want to make

sure the gravel is related to the thesis, which is related to the topic. The reasons

go back here, okay? And the order, as you noticed, I did it this way. You could have

done it any way. Once you've done that, you can do your checkmark, and you are now prepared

to write -- well, we've done the ultimate intro. You're ready for the ultimate body.

I'll give you the first step, because now we're going to take the reasons, and they're

going to be the headline for the main reasons in the body. See? You finish this, which is

basically a mini-essay, because the conclusion is just the flip side of this. A good start,

well, as my Chinese friends would say, "Every good journey starts with a first good step."

This is your first good step, with a mini-essay written in it, as you can see. The body is

here, which will go into the body of the essay, and your conclusion is right here. Thank you

for spending time with myself and Mr. E, okay? He is no longer surprised. He's smiling, going,

"Very good. You have learned grasshopper." And I hope you have, too. Please come back

for the second part, okay, when we do the body, and go back to check the first lesson

that we have on essays. An overview will give you an idea of where this comes from and how

it fits in the total structure, all right? Have a great day. See you.

You know what? Maybe I'll find something to read in here. Maybe they saw the video. I

forgot my traditional ending. It's been a while. Now you've got an intro to this. Please,

because you don't even know where to go. That was crazy. It grabbed your attention, right?

Got into a good subject, got a thesis across, and didn't even show you where to go to finish

it off. You need to go to www, that's the grabber, right?.ig as in English, vid as

in video, right, which is the topic or the subject plus the reasons, and If

you don't conclude it, you won't get there, all right? See? It works for everything. See

you later.