Writing Outline 1 “This I Believe” Essay Outline/Plan Directions: Use the chart below to plan your “This I Believe” essay. You do not have to writ

Writing Outline 1

“This I Believe” Essay Outline/Plan

Directions: Use the chart below to plan your “This I Believe” essay. You do not have to writ

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Outline 

1

“This I Believe” Essay Outline/Plan

Directions: Use the chart below to plan your “This I Believe” essay. You do not have to write
your essay word for word, but your answers should be fairly detailed. If you need help choosing
a lead-in/hook strategy, please scroll to the bottom of this document, where I have listed and
defined a variety of lead-in strategies.

Part 1:

Narrative

Briefly outline the story you are going to use to illustrate your main point.
This story will likely appear in the introduction as you set up your
discussion.

Part 2:

Essay Element Outline

Lead-In/Hook

There is a brief review of lead-in strategies on page 3 of this writing
plan (scroll down).

Thesis Statement/
Belief Statement

I believe that . . .

Body Paragraph #1
Discuss one reason why you hold this belief. Write a topic sentence and
summarize what you intend to say in this paragraph

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Body Paragraph #2

Discuss a second reason why you hold this belief. Write a topic
sentence and summarize what you intend to say in this paragraph

Body Paragraph #3

Discuss a third reason why you hold this belief. Write a topic sentence
and summarize what you intend to say in this paragraph

Body Paragraph #4

Discuss a fourth reason why you hold this belief. Write a topic sentence
and summarize what you intend to say in this paragraph

Conclusion
and
Public Resonance

Explain how you will conclude the essay. Why do you think that the
thesis of this essay might be relevant and/or interesting to other people
(i.e., your audience)?

3

Lead-in Strategies

In some essays, your thesis statement alone may be controversial or striking enough to capture

the readers’ attention. At other times, you will want to use a lead-in. A lead-in is basically

anything that immediately captures the reader’s interest and encourages him/her to keep

reading.

An effective lead-in . . .

1. Catches the reader’s attention

2. Announces the subject matter and tone of your essay (e.g., humorous, satiric, serious, etc.)

3. Sets up, or leads into, the presentation of your thesis.

Effective lead-in strategies include the following:

1. A paradoxical statement or a statement of a popular misconception – A paradox

is a statement that goes against common sense but is true nonetheless. One way to gain

your readers’ attention is by asserting an unexpected point of view. A statement that is

startlingly different from popular belief will spark interest. Because your reader isn’t

expecting such a claim, he or she is therefore motivated to read the rest of the essay.

2. A statistic – Statistics and facts give you instant credibility with the reader. However,

this information must be true and verifiable (which means that someone needs to be able

to look up the information and see that it’s true), but it doesn’t have to be totally new to

your readers. It could simply be a pertinent fact that explicitly illustrates the point you

wish to make.

3. A question – One way to catch your reader’s attention is by asking an interesting

question which you will answer in your essay. Questioning is a powerful way to pull a

response from your readers. It can grab their attention and motivate them to find out

what you have to say.

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4. An analogy or comparison – Take something the reader is unfamiliar with and relate it

to something he/she is familiar with.

5. An anecdote or story – An anecdote is a story that illustrates a point. Be sure your

anecdote is short, to the point, and relevant to topic of your essay. Telling a vivid

personal story is also an especially effective way to capture the reader’s interest.

6. A joke – Jokes can be an effective way to start an essay because they create positive

emotions in your readers. However, you must use this type of lead-in carefully. First,

make sure that the joke is actually funny. Otherwise, you will lose your reader’s interest,

which defeats your purpose. Also, the joke needs to be short and related to the topic of

the essay.

7. A dialogue – An appropriate dialogue does not have to identify the speakers, but the

reader must understand the point you are trying to convey. Use only two or three

exchanges between speakers to make your point. Then, follow dialogue with a sentence

or two of elaboration.

8. A definition – Provide a dictionary definition for a key term used in the essay.

9. A quotation – Beginning your essay a quotation from a famous person, a recognized

authority in a particular field (Albert Einstein or Bill Gates, for example), or from a well-

known literary work can effectively capture your reader’s attention.

*** Dictionary definitions and quotations should be used sparingly, however, because they are

overused, especially by amateur writers.

You should not decide that some lead-in methods are better than others. Use the approach

that best fits each essay. Resist the temptation to use the same kind of introduction in every

essay you write.

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Avoiding errors in lead-ins:

1. Make sure that your lead-in introduces your thesis. A frequent weakness in

introductory paragraphs is an interesting lead-in but no smooth or clear transition to the

thesis statement. To avoid a gap or awkward jump in thought in your introductory

paragraph, you may need to add a connecting sentence or phrase between your lead-in

and thesis.

2. Keep your lead-in brief. Use a brief, attention-catching hook to set up your thesis.

Don’t make your introduction the biggest part of your essay.

3. Avoid overused lead-ins. Your introduction should never contain statements like, “In

this paper, I will argue that . . . .” Find an original way to lead in. Also avoid dictionary

definitions and quotations, which are overused. Use one of these methods only when it

is obviously the best choice for your paper.

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