Updated: Apr 28
PSLE English Composition Mastery: Crafting Captivating Introductions
The Magic of First Impressions: Crafting a Captivating Introduction
"Don't judge a book by its cover." We all wish this were true. Whether it's our untapped potential, inner character, or our PSLE Continuous Writing paper, we long for people to look beneath the surface rather than making snap judgments.
However, first impressions do matter. Untapped potential doesn't mean much if you can't speak well during the job interview. And nobody will read your book if the first chapter is boring.
Fortunately, when it comes to PSLE English Composition, graders must read your entire composition before giving you a score. But that doesn't mean you can slack off when writing your introduction. An amazing introduction will make your composition stand out in their minds – and therefore help you earn a higher mark.
So, let's dive into the art of crafting a great introduction.
The Purpose of an Introduction
In a nutshell, an introduction sets the stage. It's here that readers get to know the main characters, the setting, and the plot of the story. For PSLE Continuous Writing, it's essential to answer the 5 W's and 1 H:
Who is the story about?
What are the characters doing?
Where are the characters located in the story?
When does the story take place?
Why are the characters there at that time?
How do the characters feel?
While you don't have to cover all of this in the first few lines, make sure you address it in the first part of the story.
Four Ways to Write a Great Introduction
Amazing introductions don't just outline the 5 W's and 1 H. They draw the reader into the story, making them eager to read more. There are four primary methods to achieve this: action, curiosity, sound, and speech.
Let's explore each of the A/C/S/S methods in detail.
This method starts the story by describing what the protagonist is doing. Using verbs to depict the actions of the main character provides a glimpse into their personality and hints at the setting.
Alvin Soh stared at the bank check that his mother had placed on the table beside him. He was counting up the zeroes in the amount.
Mr Mystery: The Mystery of the Sydney Slayings by James Lee
All introductions should pique readers' curiosity. Make them wonder, that way, they'll keep reading to find out.
Check out these examples:
Life was going along okay when my mother and father dropped the news. Bam! Just like that.
Superfudge by Judy Blume
It’s a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.
Matilda by Roald Dahl
This approach uses sound to evoke a sense of familiarity or intrigue. Consider this example from Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia:
Ba-room, ba-room, ba-room, baripity, baripity, baripity. Good. His dad had the pick-up going. He could get up now.
Dialogue can easily introduce a character's personality and the setting. It's not suitable for every story, but many work well with such an introduction.
Here's an example:
“I’ll race you to the corner, Ellen!” Annemarie adjusted the thick leather pack on her back so that her schoolbooks balanced evenly. “Ready?” She looked at her best friend.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Introductions to Avoid
Now that we've covered the four ways to write a great introduction, we should also discuss which introductions to avoid. Here are a couple of pitfalls to steer clear of when crafting your PSLE composition.
Bad Intro #1: The Clichéd Introductions
You're probably familiar with stories that open with the line, "Once upon a time..." While these fairy tales hold a special place in our childhoods, it's best not to follow their example in PSLE writing.
Other clichéd introductions to avoid are those taken from model compositions in assessment books, like this one:
"Fluffy white clouds floated across the azure blue sky. The sun shone brightly through Jeremiah's window, waking him up from a deep sleep."
Though grammatically correct, it's overused and often irrelevant to the main plot of the story. You risk losing points for going off-topic, so eliminate the fluff whenever possible.
Bad Intro #2: Sounds and Dialogue that Don’t Add Value
We also want to think carefully about how we use sound or speech to open a story in PSLE English Composition.
For instance, this dialogue-based introduction is uninspired:
"Hello," said Gregory. "Hey!" Jenny responded. "Did you manage to finish the mathematics homework yesterday?" asked Gregory.
The dull opening leaves you with zero desire to continue the story.
On the other hand, if we move to a different point in the conversation, it might be more engaging:
"I am in trouble," said Gregory. "I was trying to figure out the mathematics problems all last night, but they are too difficult for me. What if I fail the test again?"
Not the happiest introduction, but it does hold more interest – mainly because you can sense the character's despair.
Crafting a captivating introduction is crucial for capturing your reader's attention and leaving a lasting impression. By using the A/C/S/S method (action, curiosity, sound, and speech), you'll create an engaging opening that draws readers into your story and sets the stage for an unforgettable PSLE English Composition.
Remember to avoid clichéd and uninspired introductions, and focus on creating a strong opening that will make your composition stand out in the minds of your graders.
1. What is the purpose of an introduction in PSLE English Composition?
The purpose of an introduction in PSLE English Composition is to set the stage for the story. It should answer the 5 W's and 1 H: who the story is about, what the characters are doing, where they are located in the story, when the story takes place, why the characters are there at that time, and how the characters feel.
2. What are the four primary methods of writing a great introduction in PSLE English Composition?
The four primary methods of writing a great introduction in PSLE English Composition are action, curiosity, sound, and speech. The action method describes what the protagonist is doing, using verbs to depict their actions, while the curiosity method piques the reader's interest by making them wonder about the story. The sound approach uses sound to evoke familiarity or intrigue, while dialogue can introduce a character's personality and the setting.
3. What are the clichéd introductions to avoid when writing PSLE English Composition?
The clichéd introductions to avoid when writing PSLE English Composition are those that are overused or irrelevant to the main plot of the story. Examples include opening with "Once upon a time..." or using fluff like "fluffy white clouds floated across the azure blue sky." Additionally, using sounds and dialogue that don't add value to the story should also be avoided.
4. How important is a captivating introduction in PSLE English Composition?
A captivating introduction is essential in PSLE English Composition as it can make the composition stand out in the grader's mind and help the student earn a higher mark. It draws the reader into the story, making them eager to read more.
5. What does the 'action' method of writing a great introduction involve?
The 'action' method of writing a great introduction involves describing what the protagonist is doing using verbs to depict their actions. This provides a glimpse into their personality and hints at the setting.