ENG 3U: The Anecdotal Introduction

Cafeteria (noun):  a sprawling jungle, full of wild animals ready to pounce on those that show any fear.

What comes next?

I’ve been to Australia twice so far, but according to my father I’ve never actually seen it.

What comes next?

I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear.

What comes next?

These sentences are actually the beginning of anecdotes.  An anecdote is simply a story that we tell because it is interesting; thus, the  anecdotal introduction prepares the reader for the thesis by telling a relevant story.  In an anecdotal introduction, the thesis does not have to be last sentence.

Let’s imagine that I am writing an essay about video games and learning. My organizing principle is based on sub-genres:

  • open world games (reward exploration and creativity, like Minecraft)
  • puzzle games (offer increasingly challenging puzzles to the player, like Portal)
  • skill-based games (constantly teach new methods of gameplay, such as new powers and abilities)
  • simulation/strategy games (require players to make decisions based on long-term implications, such as Civilization)

In order to write an anecdotal introduction, I need to tell a story that is relevant to the thesis; my anecdote also needs to last for the entire length of the paragraph.  Look at the example below:

A few years ago, I was asked to present at the Faculty of Education about video games and education. The presentation was part of a media conference featuring presenters and educators from across South-Western Ontario. I was so excited: it was not only my first presentation at a conference, but also the first time I was given any time to discuss gaming and learning with my colleagues.  Unfortunately, however, no teachers showed up for my talk; in fact, the organizers had to send up a few high school students to my room to provide an audience. Embarrassing. I consoled myself with the thought that  my colleagues were simply more interested in the other talks. After all, the other presentations were stellar; had I not been presenting, I would have gladly attended any of them. After a day or two, however, I realized that my colleague’s lack of interest may also reflect their limited understanding of the medium. Because they have had little experience with gaming, they don’t see its relevance to the classroom: in truth, video games are incredibly versatile and powerful teaching tools.

Clearly, my thesis is  video games are incredibly versatile and powerful teaching tools. The anecdote that precedes it provides context, and prepares the reader for my essay.

Remember that your anecdote should feel somewhat personal, or at the very least, human. After all, it is a story about someone, right?



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