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Illustrative Essay Introductions

How to Write an Illustration Essay

An illustrative essay is probably one of the easiest types of essays to write; and once you have mastered this type of writing, just about all other types of essays will become easier as well. That's because no matter what type of writing you're doing, if you're trying to make a point, illustrations make it much easier to accomplish your goal.

Definition of an illustration essay

The first step in mastering the writing of an illustration essay is to understand exactly how this type of essay is most effectively used. Simply put, an illustration essay uses a variety of examples to support or prove your thesis. For example, if your thesis statement is:

“The winter months cause most residents to hibernate.”

Your essay would contain descriptions of several facts that support this thesis, such as:

  • The roads are nearly empty with just 2 or 3 cars passing every hour compared to 100s of cars during the warmer months of the year.
  • The social activities in town are poorly attended when the weather is foul.

The illustrative essay is nothing more than providing facts that back up your thesis. However, it's a descriptive and even colorful style of writing that makes the essay interesting to read.

Creating a paper that's interesting to read

Obviously, a statement of facts such as those above is a boring way to prove a point. You'll better engage your reader by taking the concept of illustration to heart. When you think of an illustration an image comes to mind that is drawn to help the viewer understand something. A word illustration is much the same. The writer uses words to paint a picture for the reader so that the reader can visualize what the author is trying to say.

While an illustration essay is among the easiest to tackle, beware of it being too easy. It does require some thought to make it work. A few things to keep in mind while coming up with examples to prove your thesis include:

  1. Make sure your example makes a clear point. A long narrative about your personal feelings about winter may seem relevant to the topic, but it doesn't prove that most people hibernate.
  2. Before crafting your essay, spend some time brainstorming some good examples and then pick your top three - four examples. Once you have your strongest points, spend the time to carefully “illustrate” each example so that it's crystal clear to the reader that this helps prove your main point.
  3. Make sure that your thesis statement for this type of essay is not about arguing a position; rather it's about a phenomenon that exists.
  4. Transitioning between your examples takes some practice so that the essay doesn't read like a list of examples, because you start each new point with the phrase, “for example?‚?¦” Instead, find other words that help transition from point to point.

The two examples listed for the winter weather thesis above could be tied together by correlating the lack of participation in social events to the lack of travel. These are like cause and effect example:

“?‚?¦the lack of participation in social events is further illustrated by the lack of traffic on the roads. People just don't like to drive in bad weather, which is why there are so few cars on the road in winter as compared to summer. ?‚?¦”

Structuring and writing the essay

As with all essays, the format of an illustrative includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction states your thesis, the body provides examples of why the thesis is true, and the conclusion restates the thesis and draws a conclusion to the paper. With the winter weather example we've been using here, a conclusion might be that the winter months are not good for planning a major event that you want a lot of people to attend.

Writing a Proper Introduction for Your Illustration Essay

An illustration essay is based on explaining subjects and matters in a way adequate to providing a picturesque description. It should be the kind that makes one have a picture in mind they never had before, for the issues and subjects they are reading about.   It proves a point by supplying adequate evidence. Such a write-up relates to identification of an element in a work, and developing it in relation to the element chosen.  The main intention of the introduction is to act as an eye-catcher to the reader as well as offer a basis on what they should expect. 

Here are steps to start off the illustration essay;

  1. Understand the flow/type of the essay: The flow is determined by the type of illustrative essay assigned. For instance, it could be a definition, explanation or cause type. The type also defines the nature of the topic and thus the nature of introduction. 
  2. Start off with an interesting topic: If you are aware of the reader's taste, it is important to develop the writing around this taste. The exposition must draw readers into the writer’s work and, by providing as much illustration as possible, rally for their support and/or engagement in the discussion. 
  3. Have a thesis: Also the main revolving idea of the illustration essay, the thesis constitutes the main argument of the writer in relation to the topic. More or less, it will show the writer’s position, which he/she will then support by finding out evidence. It ties the reader to what will be proved using the evidence to be presented in the body. The thesis is presented in the introduction.
  4. Be as vivid as possible: Vivid descriptions of events, people and places will provide a mental picture to readers and are suitable for definitive and explanation types of illustration essays. Personal experiences with people, events and places are also good details to add in the introduction. However, balance between providing as much details in the introduction and providing generalizations. More details should be in the body section.
  5. Avoid ambiguity: A general rule in writing is to avoid ambiguities, especially in the introduction. An ambiguous statement is one that is hard to understand and can make readers have a negative attitude about the general assignment. They may thus become less interested.  
  6. Length of introduction: It is not meant to provide all details and will be good as long as it has highlighted the main ideas and introduces the discussion. It should be done by approaching matters in as broad perspective as possible before narrowing down to details in the body.

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