#12. Writing an Academic Essay (Part 4)
by Jayna Tokie Tanaka
Finishing the Outline and Writing the Introduction
The writer of an essay has the choice of placing the body paragraphs in the order that will have the greatest effect. The last body paragraph of this essay on guns in the U.S. will provide the most shocking statistics. The first paragraph was about laws, the second about the guns themselves, but the third paragraph will be about people, and people are what this problem is about.
C. This huge number of guns has led to an unbelievable number of incidents in which guns have been used to
kill and maim.
1. The most shocking number — mass shootings (four or more people involved) in 2015 — 372, one
a. killed 475
b. wounded 1,870
2. The next shocking number — guns kill as many people as cars in 2013, more than 30,000 people were
killed by both guns and cars
3. Guns kill because they are used in suicide, homicide, and accidents (from the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention). In 2013, a very typical year
a. suicides — 21,175
b. homicides — 11,208
c. accidental deaths — 505
With these statistics, the writer hopes the reader has been convinced that this arsenal of weapons in a single country is creating havoc and that the only way to stop this is to restrict the use of firearms to the military, the police, and hunters as is done in many countries.
The best time to write the introductory paragraph of an essay may be after the outline has been completed because the introductory paragraph is a special kind of paragraph. It does not follow the pattern of the kind of paragraphs that have been written so far. The introductory paragraph begins with a general statement introducing the topic of the essay and gradually becomes more specific as it reaches the end. The final sentence should contain the thesis the writer wishes to present. The introductory paragraph is often described as a funnel or rice bowl with the topic at the beginning and the “thesis statement” at the end. This thesis statement controls the entire essay by providing the limits of the essay.
The first sentence of an introductory paragraph should catch readers’ attention. Readers may decide from the the first sentence whether they want to read more or read something else. For my essay, I decided on the following first sentences:
In the past few days, I have read not just one but two articles about two-year old children who have killed
one-year old children in two different states in the U.S. Although the fact that both incidents involved children
of the same age may be unusual, the killing of children by other children is not unusual in the U.S.
The first two sentences introduce the topic in general: guns in the U.S. The following two sentences make it clearer that this essay will be about gun ownership in the U.S.
In fact, death by guns whether by suicide, homicide, or accidents is not unusual in most states. This is
caused by private Americans’ claim to have the right to own firearms under the Second Amendment of
the United States Constitution.
Finally, the last four sentences give the main points to be covered in the essay, with the final sentence giving an opinion of the result of such a situation.
The federal system allows each state to regulate guns in their own ways. This means there are more guns
privately owned than in any other developed nation in the world. This also means that the number of those
killed and maimed by these weapons is so large that it would be difficult to imagine by those who live in
Japan, where that number is very close to zero. I believe that the private ownership of guns has become the
scourge of the United States.
The job of the writer is now to check the facts and the sources of the facts and write the essay.
(To Be Continued)
Jayna Tokie Tanaka（ジェイナ・トキエ・タナカ）