Today in class we were asked to write three possible leads to our ten page paper. Our rough draft for this paper is due by Tuesday, the 14th, and I have not even begun to think about such a daunting task. And as the wise Julie Andrews said in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” So as I began trying to figure out where to start, I flipped to a dogeared page in my English 102 textbook, The Curious Researcher, that gave me some wonderful ideas. Ballenger disclosed “Openings to your paper might sound hard, but consider all the ways to begin:
Also divulged in The Curious Researcher is the concept that, “Leads… are flashlights that shine down into the story” (Mcphee qtd in Ballenger 161). What is meant by that quote, is that our introduction needs to be captivating and give our readers an insight as to what the rest of the paper will be on.
Here go my quick attempts as I sit in class for a few more minutes:
Anecdote attempt 1:
When I was in high school I met a girl named Kathy and we were fast friends. She was very warm and inviting with a huge smile. What I remember most about Kathy was that she always had a boy named Eric on her arm. They would kiss in the halls and frequently pass notes between each other. Kathy would proudly read the love notes from her man to us during lulls in our choir class. All of the girls in our class who had the privilege of reading the love notes felt special.
And the day after their graduation, Eric asked Kathy to marry him. She was so excited! And we were all excited for them too.
A few years back, I ran in to Kathy while we were both visiting our old school. I asked her about her husband, as they had tied the knot the year prior. Kathy got a solemn look on her face and confessed that she and Eric had split. They were getting divorced and she was currently single.
Scene attempt 1:
The Blue House. Those words haunt me even to this day. As a child, I was raised in a fairly large, split level 2 story house with my mother, 3 siblings, and her husband and his 4 kids. The Blue House. Imagine yelling, food throwing, tears. The Blue House. Every nightmare that I have starts within those 4 walls or the cracked gray concrete walkway that leads to the front door. And even as I aged and all of my siblings moved out, I remained. A lonely child with a mother and a stranger daddy.
Now, the scene that I’ve just described is not uncommon. Most children today are raised by adults who are not their birth parents.
Quote attempt 1:
Nicholas H. Wolfinger discussed the abomination that is the divorce cycle when he explained, “Many families have more than 1 child; having grown up in divorced families, these children will be more likely to end their own marriages. Thus, divorce can affect many future marriages. The transmission of divorce between generations, in short, can be thought of as a cascade. Ending a marriage starts a cycle that threatens to affect increasing numbers of people over time, a sobering thought in an era when half of all new marriages fail” (4-5). Wolfinger is the Assistant Professor of the Department of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah. He is also the Assistant Professor of Sociology at the U of U who has spent his entire career researching the “intergenerational transmission of divorce.”
I’m not really a fan of any of these leads and I will work on finalizing a beginning with the few remaining days that I have left. I really liked the example by Ballenger’s student, Ashley, on page 265 of The Curious Researcher that started the story with a scene lead. Ashley brought to life the characters in the pub and how the bartender’s face paled at sad news. I was thoroughly captivated by her writing on a subject that I wouldn’t usually have been interested in.
Scene leads seem to be a great way to pull readers in who may not initially feel connected to your topic. I imagine that if I were to start my essay from the scene of a broken home, maybe that would spark a memory for my reader. Or maybe if I were to start my essay with a scene of a wholesome family, that might spark a sense of desire for my reader. That sense of desire is why I am writing my essay! I what my readers to spread the word that divorce should not be a norm anymore!
I think I will focus my energy on writing a better scene lead.