Writing the introduction paragraph for Essay 3

Your ideas may change as you read more and think more about this topic. You can always revise your working thesis as you draft.

For an argument essay like Essay 3, your thesis usually will appear at the end of your introduction paragraph.

Your thesis should answer the central question of the assignment prompt:

Should the state of California pay compensation to people who have been wrongfully imprisoned?

But you might be asking yourself: How do I begin Essay 3? How do I get started?

Remember what we said in the beginning of the semester: that effective academic writing resides not just in stating your own ideas but in

1) listening closely to others around you
2) summarizing their positions in a way that they will recognize
3) responding with your own ideas in kind

Think of essay writing as entering a conversation: using what others say (or might say) as a launching pad or sounding board for your own thoughts.

You’ve read, for example, what these editorials have written about state compensation laws for wrongfully convicted persons (and what Stevenson has written about wrongful convictions and the criminal justice system) and you are entering that conversation, responding to what they have said.

So think of Essay 3 as a response to the arguments of others.

Many writers make this rhetorical move explicit in their writing with sentences like these:

Some argue that _______________________. According to this view, _______________________. My own view is that ______________. Though I acknowledge that _____________, I still maintain that _______________________.

These are rhetorical moves that allow you to engage in the kinds of critical thinking that you are required to do in this class and at the college level.

What’s also good about this move is that it eliminates the fear of the blank page: What am I going to say? How do I begin?

When you enter a conversation, that rhetorical move provides your opening move.

So if you’re stuck getting started, try using a template such as this:

In recent discussions of ____________________, a controversial issue is whether _____________________. While some argue that _________________, others contend that ________________.

Look at how this template works perfectly for Essay 3:

In recent discussions of criminal justice reform, a controversial issue is whether people wrongfully convicted should be financially compensated. While some argue that wrongfully convicted persons should not be paid restitution by the state and should not be able to bring lawsuits, others contend that states should enact better compensation laws and permit lawsuits for years or decades lost in prison.

This summary of what “they say” about this topic would by followed by your thesis.

Think of your introduction paragraph this way:


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