When we land on a webpage that does not capture our interest, we move on in a matter of seconds. We can expect our would-be readers to do the same, if we do not get their attention right away. Doing so is the goal of the essay’s first sentence, the so-called “hook.”
Compare the following two sentences:
This year the Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature to Bob Dylan.
Bob Dylan did not show up to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The first sentence is ho-hum. Unless we are already interested in the Nobel Prize or Bob Dylan, we will not read on. The second sentence may leave us wondering, “What’s up with Dylan? Was he being rude? Was he trying to make a point? If so, what was it? Why did the Nobel Committee give the prize in literature to someone known primarily as a songwriter? Was the committee trying to make a point? If so, what was it?”
Assuming that the second sentence hooks some readers, what then? Where do we go from here? The next step is to provide some background information, for example, noting other honors Dylan has received, for example, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Officier de la Legion d’honnuer, and other recipients of the Noble Prize in Literature.
We complete the introductory paragraph with the all-important thesis statement. Here we state our position and the support we will be offering for it, for example:
Bob Dylan’s refusal to show up for the Nobel Prize evidences a deep humility, a feeling of unworthiness, foreshadowed in his reactions to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Officier de la Legion d’honnuer, and comments about previous recipients of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
For guidance on crafting an effective thesis statement, please see page 7 of www.cambridge.org/download_file/586172/0/