That’s understandably so: not only is a lot riding on an essay’s introduction, but it also needs to accomplish multiple rhetorical tasks efficiently.And while everyone knows the general purpose of the introduction -- to state the essay's thesis -- many people have trouble determining how best to get to that statement. First, there are many effective strategies for building up to that statement.As we say, abstracts are spoilers not teasers, because they give your audience a condensed version of your whole article: what your claim is, why it matters and how you will conduct your argument for it.
You might opt for the all-I intro because you want to give your readers credit for knowing a lot about the relevant scholarly conversation rather than rehearsing points you believe they are already familiar with.
Another honorable justification, but one that often has the unfortunate effect of suggesting that you are actually not familiar with what other scholars have said.
We also want to note that using the hook and an I approach is ultimately less a matter of sheer quantity -- X number of sentences or paragraphs to others, and Y number to your ideas -- than of argumentative quality.
Good introductions do not just repeat what other scholars have said; they analyze it and find an opening in it for their contribution.
This advice about avoiding the no hook and all I introduction may initially seem to run counter to the bold-pronouncement strategy we outlined above, but a closer look reveals that it is a distinctive variation, a “first I and then hook” progression.
The strategy involves moving from your arresting assertion to the context that sharpens its stakes.At the same time, this possible objection helps clarify the situations in which it makes sense to employ the bold-pronouncement strategy: those in which readers of the journal will immediately recognize the striking quality of the thesis, the ways it seeks to take the scholarly conversation in a substantially new direction.Why might authors go for just the hook or just the I?Second, underlying these strategies is a smaller set of common purposes.And finally, working with an awareness of both the first and second principles is a sound way to write strong introductions.Authors and editors in the humanities know that journals are more likely to accept scholarly essays with strong introductions and that such essays are more likely to influence academic conversations.Yet from our experiences as journal editors and authors, we also know that writers often struggle with introductions.The “all hook and no I” introduction has paragraph upon paragraph (or even page upon page) describing how other scholars have viewed the issue the article addresses with little indication of how the author’s thesis fits into this conversation.Conversely, “the no hook and all I” introduction immediately launches into the author’s argument without establishing the current scholarly conversation that makes it meaningful.You use an anecdote that illustrates salient aspects of the essay's central issue and then link the anecdote to your thesis about that issue. Examples are Miriam Schoenfield’s “Permission to Believe: Why Permissivism Is True and What It Tells Us About Irrelevant Influences on Belief” and Jane Tompkins’s “Sentimental Power: and the Politics of Literary History.” These strategies are ultimately means to accomplish three interrelated rhetorical purposes of strong introductions.This strategy is often combined with one of the others, especially No. All three are concerned with your readers, but the second also pays attention to your dialogic partners: the other scholars whose work you engage.