Stakes and the Introductory Paragraph

There is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise,” and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.

We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let’s suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!”

In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed.                                 ― Alfred Hitchcock



We want to write interesting things, and one way to do this is to build tension into our texts.

Alfred Hitchcock writes that in order to pleasure your audience with suspense (or, I would add, tension) “whenever possible the public must be informed.” I am struck by how the right information well relayed can hook our attention.

Fiction writers commonly introduce tension by:

1) Establishing stakes,

2) Complicating matters, and

3) Sharing the right information at the right time.

I believe it is possible to use information in our essays to achieve both.

Ask yourself: What information can you share that will raise the stakes or, in other words, clearly articulate a problem? What information can you share that will complicate things?

Your essay does not need do-or-die stakes to be interesting. Sometimes the stakes can be subtle, for example, in Southan’s “Is Art A Waste of Time?” the title question generates enough energy to get us thinking.

When we talk about stakes, we talk about why something matters and how much it matters. Take a few minutes, a pen, and some paper to brainstorm the stakes of your essay.

Whether or not these sentences end up in your final draft does not determine their usefulness. Every effort you put toward engaging these ideas, these texts is useful toward your end goal: in this case a well-thought, polished essay.


And the Introductory Paragraph(s)

Now that you have the stakes beneath the proverbial table, let’s turn now to the introductory paragraph as a whole. You may prefer to elaborate on what you believe to be at stake for your closing paragraph. That’s okay, the key is to have what’s at stake in mind from the very beginning–to allow the central problem, the so whatto influence your opening paragraph (or paragraphs).

What’s important is that your introduction orients your reader.

These beginning paragraphs should establish context for these stakes, a world with boundary and shape. In fact, as the writer, you should use these first moments to:

  1. acknowledge the immediate context
    1. i.e. What conversation are you entering? What are the large issues and whom do they affect? In other words, what do they say? Write 2-3 sentences describing the conversation at hand. (Make sure you have a strong handle on whom you mean when you use the word they. Please also make sure you take special care to accurately represent this they.)
  2. introduce your internal context
    1. i.e. What is your paper’s scope? What all does your paper cover, and to whom should your paper matter?
  3. set expectations
    1. i.e. What is your intent for this paper? What are you trying to prove? (It’s perfectly possible to prove the urgency of a question) What path will you choose to prove it?


As you build your scope, you will want to strive for balance. Don’t zoom too far out. For example, unless you are writing about the dawn of time, don’t start your essay: Since the dawn of time… Don’t zoom too far in, either. Don’t try to cram in too many details right away. Think about the kind of introduction you like to read.


The Exercise (To Review)

After you brainstorm, draft your introductory paragraph.

Your introductory paragraph should orient the reader, and it does this by establishing internal context.

A strong introductory paragraph checklist:

  1. Have I introduced my topic?
  2. Have I clarified my paper’s scope, and is that scope appropriate to my position?
  3. Have I indicated the stakes and or hooked my reader? (You need not detail every hypothetical dystopian future–this is an introduction. Pointing out a problem or an affected population can be enough.)
  4. Do I communicate my intent (Sometimes just knowing your intent, is enough. It will show in your writing. Ask yourself: What is the purpose–the driving direction? Where do I want to take this paper?)
  5. Does my intro paragraph have a clearly identifiable position statement? A position statement that uses clear, specific language to set an achievable course for the rest of your paper?

(Your position statement (thesis) may contain elements of all of the above! That’s okay!)

Please post your introductory paragraph as a comment below.

Read your peers’ paragraphs.

Attempt to step back and view these paragraphs as moldable texts. Practice noticing. More specifically practice noticing what works. And noticing what doesn’t work.

Find one writer’s choice to compliment. Remark on why you think their choice worked.

Find one text you want to help make stronger. Please make your suggestion as specific as possible. For example, if the position statement lacks a so what, can you suggest a so what? If the introduction is too cluttered with detail, what could that paragraph stand to lose?


One Last Thing–Please don’t forget that writing–itself–is a processing tool. As you continue to draft your paper, your introduction may likely change. The purpose of your paper may shift or slide. Your scope may narrow. While drafting, you may realize a sense of urgency you previously lacked. You may stumble into a new solution. In this exercise, we generate words that will hopefully help us generate more words–which will, in turn, help us generate more words. And on and on. And onwards.


  1. inelson1

    Bella Nelson
    Is it okay for our good deed to only change a person’s emotions instead of change a person’s health? In Rhys Southan’s essay, he speaks of the effective altruistic view of good deeds being only as good as the estimated lives it saves. If we just focus on saving lives, are we going to help someone’s emotional stability and emotional happiness as well? This may play a huge impact in a person’s life. In the art project created by Haas and Hahn, we see that they may not have given people a cure to illness, although they did give them a positive outlet to let go of negative emotions.

    • nklaver

      I really liked your first sentence! It was a real hook and it pulled me in and made me want to read more. If this was a full paper, I would want to keep reading to see what your opinion is on, Is it okay for our good deed to only change a person’s emotions instead of change a person’s health.

      I think that the end of the introduction could be improved. Maybe add a sentence of two to talk about whats going to be mentioned in the essay. Then add a position statement! (:

    • hlatulippe

      Your introduction paragraph is very intriguing. I really admired how you asked questions throughout your paragraph in order to grasp the reader’s attention.

  2. egardner2

    Imagine telling an art museum night guard that his career is worthless. Imagine you delicately explain to him that “all possible artwork already exists somewhere in the quantum multiverse” (Southan 4), and suggesting that he take the night off, because those paintings have no value whatsoever. Assuming he is able to pause in between fits of laughter, he might retort “Sure, if I don’t care about my job”. And he is right. Art is both tangible and intangible. It may have metaphors, and symbolism, higher meanings; but at the same time, it is a tangible object with value, and time and effort and creativity inserted into it. To suggest, as Effective Altruists do, that all art is a waste of space would make for a very rich, and very happy group of thieves the moment the museum unlocked its doors.

    • rmuthyam

      I really like the way you pulled the reader into your paragraph by the creative way you wrote the first few sentences. It makes reader think about what you are going to write and continue reading. I also liked how you use direct quotes into your introduction to add some credibility and to support your point. I also enjoyed the way you ended your paragraph with humor.

      I liked how you started your essay, but after reading it, I do not know what exactly your stance is on the purpose of art. I would just recommend adding a sentence or two to express your opinion on art. Other than that, it is a great introduction.

    • Garrett Almeida

      This is an interesting angle that I hadn’t thought of. I agree that art does have great value, but I had not considered the fact that many people’s careers and well-being hinged on art in such a straightforward and practical way. Good paragraph. Interesting view. Could be improved by stating the purpose of your work.

    • jmckechnie

      This is an interesting take on the essay. I hadn’t even thought about writing the paper from that angle. It grabbed my attention because it was unique. The only thing I have to make it better would me that maybe you might want to format the paragraph a little more. By introducing what you intend to cover in the essay.

  3. nklaver

    Art is everywhere possible, in writing, paining, singing, and in thousands of other things. Many people go on their fast pace day and let all the art around them pass, without them even enjoying it. On the other hand so many people around the world cherish art and find it a necessity in order for happiness. Rhy Southan’s essay “Is art a waste of time?” a good example of how many people take art for granted and don’t see the beauty that it brings to the world. But then Haas and Hahn TED talk “How painting can Transform Communities” shows just how important art is to communities and how art can bring meaning to anything in life. If people slow down their lives, and just look. They will have an opportunity to see the beauty in all that is around them and be able to appreciate it more, and maybe even find more happiness in the world.

  4. enelson7

    Emma Nelson

    Two groups on two seperate missions, focused on the same results: helping people around the world in need. Effective Altruism is a organization that is focused on selfless acts of kindness in order to improve the wellbeing of people in need. Haas and Hahn’s are two men on a mission to make a difference in the slums of cities around the world with the power of coming together and paint. The difference between the two groups, the EA thinks that art is a waste of time and resources. While Haas and Hahn believe that creating art within a community, with the community, has extremely high beneficial outcomes for making the community feel a sense of pride. Many artists around the world would argue that their work has benefited the people that take it in and observe it. The EA believes that artists are spending more money on the time and resources to create these pieces, when they could be working a 40 hour a week job and give 10% of their paycheck to the people in need instead and that would make more of a difference in those people’s wellbeing.

    I think that creating art is beneficial to people of all ages. When I was in kindergarten, I did many projects with clay, sand, and paint. From then on, every year of school until I reached high school, there was an art class. Creating art as a hobby has its benefits, it’s a time to decompress and relax. But two men by the names of Haas and Hahn’s spend months and sometimes years working on single pieces of art. The unusual part about this is that it’s not on paper, many times the sides of homes or buildings are their canvas, even a paved road. Effective Altruism most likely would never consider painting houses at a conventional way to spend their time helping people.

    • amueller1

      I thought your first paragraph did a great job of summarizing both the Ted Talk and Southan’s article. I felt like you really set yourself up to pull examples from each text. I also feel like as a reader, your summary gives me a great idea what both texts are about. However, It seems like you didn’t really talk about what you believe in the first Introduction paragraph.

      The second paragraph does a much better job at conveying what you personally believe. It also still introduces both your texts in what feels like a better flowing way.

  5. Garrett Almeida

    Art is a creative form of communication which can help us better understand things that cannot be expressed through words alone. Art can be used to give a voice to people who would otherwise go unheard, unseen, and otherwise misunderstood. Art is quite an important tool for people in society today, however, there are those who disagree with that sentiment. Effective Altruists, among others, see art as a selfish medium which takes time and money that could be better spent on relief for people suffering worldwide. This is a noble view, however, It undercuts the importance of art and ignores the positive effects it has on society. It is time to examine the point of view of Effective Altruists, the importance of art and how it effects our society, and defend the merit of creative artwork.

    Take #2

    Our society runs on communication of Ideas. Many things can be expressed verbally, however, some ideas and motifs require other mediums, such as visual or audial artwork to be properly conveyed. Art is how we communicate ideas that cannot be easily conveyed just through speech. It is integral for continuing to improve our society, as it gives a voice to people who would otherwise be unable to deliver their messages. Some people, however, see art as a superfluous, often selfish waste of time and resources. They see no merit to art, as they believe time could be better spent working to send money and relief to suffering people around the world. This is a noble viewpoint, and it is certainly not without merit. However, it undercuts the role that art plays in improving our society. It is important to examine the opinions and ideals behind those who oppose creative artwork, and to also examine why art is important. Though not always selfless, art is worth defending.

    • Emma

      I think that in the first intro you did a very good job at find the right words to convey your thoughts. I like the second one as well, but I think that the first intro flows better. I also really liked the last sentence in your second intro and I think that statement should definitely be incorporated into your intro. To critique a little, I think that in the first intro you should try to find a different word than ‘otherwise’ because you say it twice in one sentence. I think that ‘however’ is also repeated a few too many times as well. But other than that I think you did a very good job on both of these!

  6. aahmed4

    Some say first impressions are everything. In certain situations I would have to agree with you. However, more often than not, first impressions are just that, a thought about someone or something that doesn’t necessary characterize it. There have been plenty of times in my life where everything is not what it seems. I feel horrible afterwards, but it is what it is. We, as a society, need to understand that opinions of peoples, places, and things are alright, as long as we can understand the meaning and reason behind it; because there is always one. Some people refuse to accept that they’re thoughts are wrong, even when there’s a pile of evidence to prove them wrong. If everyone had the mindset to open their eyes to the bigger picture in, well everything, then everyone could get along much better.
    Alas, this will not happen, but if individuals were to even open up a little bit and welcome other people’s thoughts and views; then we could all come to see that everything has multiple interpretations. Someone can be a master manipulator and have you believe that they’re a Saint. The reason for building this new apartment complex may be more than just an investment opportunity, it could be for lower-middle class families to live it. You just never know what could be lying under the exterior surface.

    • nblangiardi

      I feel like this is a really good opening. It definitely gets the reader thinking. I personally like your first sentence is a good grasper.

      One thing I feel like you should fix is the phrase, “and things are alright,” it just sounds a little awkward. Im still not sure where you are headed with your essay, but this is definitely a great start!

  7. Olivia R Gagne

    Many have begun to question whether art has a positive impact on a society, or if art is a waste is a waste of time. Throughout Southans text “Is art A Waste of Time”, he explores the Effective Altruisms perspective who believe art is useless to helping change the world. They believe donating money is the only way to make a difference and explain that artists are selfish as they have this money which they could’ve donated, but instead choose to buy art supplies for themselves. Haas and Hahn are two people who bought paint to make the cities of run down places brighter and happier by painting their houses and streets. By focusing on the emotional impact that the colorful paint had on these families in poverty, Haas and Hahn challenge that idea that art can make an impact emotionally on a community. In order to aid the world money is not the only thing that can help, by giving your time and making a change to a community art can help society not only come together, but also transform a low income place into a beautiful area.

  8. adube5

    Since time began, art has been a way people have chosen to express themselves. For some, art is a way to cope or to travel to a different state of being even for just a short period of time. As Southan and Titus share their experiences, we get to understand history and and happiness that surrounds art. By doing this we are able to understand factors such as wealth, economic status, and race in a whole new way bringing up topics we tend to brush under the metaphorical carpet. Art is a personal expression showing history, thought, and meaning and should be free to the imagination of the artist.

    • cchampagne1

      I really like how you started out with the broad topic of expressing yourself through art. I think its beneficial to the entire essay to start out broad because it can relate to each and every reader in a separate way.

      I think that narrowing your topic down at the end of your introduction would greatly help your essay though. Try to put a thesis sentence in your intro that indirectly states what your essay is specifically about.

  9. mrogers5

    The value of art is unmatchable. The word art is a broad term that can reference a multitude of different things. There is what people normally think of when they hear the word, paintings, drawings, sculptures; then there is everyday art, clothes, billboards, advertisements. Art can be used to express how an individual feels, can connect with someone who needs to know they are not alone, art can be used to raise money for a charity, or art can be used in a multitude of other ways. The purpose of art varies by individual, but the need for art in one’s life is constant.

    • Hannah Little

      Your opening and closing statements are great! Especially the need for art in one’s life is constant is so true and the sentence is put together really nicely. I would refrain from doing a list following another list. The sentence that starts with “There is what people normally….” and then the other sentence which is “Art can be used to express how an individual….” could be combined to form one complete statement so it isn’t so choppy sounding. Also, try to avoid repetition specifically how art can be used in a multitude of ways. Overall, great work girl! 🙂

  10. Hannah Little

    Hannah Little
    ENG 110
    Free Draft

    Art had never been something I paid much attention to. I was more drawn into solving problems and helping people than I was to sit down and start sketching. But, with two devoted artists at home, I realized art comes in many forms and can be used as a therapy, to convey a deeper meaning that couldn’t be explained but shown. Although it is seen as a mere waste of time and effort, it is for every age to experience the impact it has had on the past, present and future. Art is used to benefit not only the creator of the piece but the other individuals that come in contact with the piece. It is emotions shown on display, for people who are willing to show their emotions, or willing to hold back. Any form of art whether music, a painting or a poem has touched individuals at a surface level or deeper.

    • Emma

      Instead of saying “drawn into” I would say “drawn to”. When you say “Although it is seen as a mere waste of time and effort” explain who says that; also in that sentence, instead of saying “it” three times, one of those times you should actually say the word art so the readers know exactly what you’re talking about. “It is emotions shown on display” I also think this is a very nice sentence but I think you should replace the word it with something else such as art, the piece, the work, etc. Although I don’t really think the rest of the sentence makes much sense. In the last sentence add “it is” between whether and music, then still focusing on that last sentence, when you read it out loud, it sounds unfinished. I think that you need to add something to it so it hooks the reader.

    • hlatulippe

      I really enjoyed your introduction paragraph. One suggestion that I do have is to incorporate both Southan, as well as whomever’s TED talk you have chosen into your paragraph. I believe this would greatly improve your introduction due to the fact you will later on mention the two throughout your essay.

    • Alexis Deguzman

      I really enjoyed reading your into paragraph! I like that you made self connections with your at home life in your writing.

  11. hlaclaire

    What is art? Is it a form of discrimination throughout our history, or is art a window to the past that we can learn from, or is it a distraction from the real problems in our society today, or is it a way of communication. Titus Kaphar, an artist, suggests that we change and amend the art throughout history to ensure that everyone is equal in the viewers eyes. People who fallow Effective Altruism, believes that art is a distraction to the problems of todays society.

    • adube5

      I like how there is a place to go and to prosper within your introduction. I see real potential with your essay! When you write your introduction though I wouldn’t start off with a question as your opening sentence, I would make it more of a statement. Also mention Southan in your introduction so it shows you are going to be talking about more than one person in your essay. Other than that check your spelling and you got this! 🙂

    • ekrueger1

      I really like how you use a question to drag a reader in! I believe there is room for improvement if you were going to use a question as the first sentence. Elaboration! Mentioning Southan and the Ted Talk that you are going to write about in the introductory paragraph is key to letting the reader know what the main focal point is. Also making sure that you stand your opinion in the intro paragraph is very important. I enjoyed reading your introduction, just a little more key information and you’ll be off to a great start!

  12. amueller1

    We find it everywhere. From the streets we walk to the web we surf, art is all around us. In fact it is hard to imagine a world without any art at all. However, is art actually useful, or is it a waste of time? An organization called Effective Altruism would argue that art is a self-indulgent waste of time. Fuelled by a motto of happiness and long life, the EA ( Effective Altruists ) would say there are much better ways to spend your time. But are they right? For an example, friends Haas and Hahn were able to change whole communities using nothing but art. So back to the question, is art a waste of time? Absolutely not, and those who say it is don’t really understand the power of art. Art can inspire, teach, or bring change. It is a tool available to all of mankind. To argue art is a waste of time would be just as absurd as calling math or science a waste of time.

    • inelson1

      I really enjoyed reading your intro paragraph. I totally agreed with your opinion of art not being a “waste of time” which is partly what drew me to read your intro. I like how you make it clear for the reader to understand what your argument is. I believe your choice works because there are so many people, like me, who have a similar viewpoint. Your paragraph also is very straight forward and organized in a flow that is easy to follow.

      One thing that can be helpful to change is the first sentence. Maybe if you change it to “Art, we find it everywhere.” This way the reader is aware of exactly what you are talking about right away. Another thing that could be taken out or changed is the last sentence, it is a little redundant as you had already written a similar sentence.

      Overall the introduction paragraph sounds great!

    • Stephen Flynn

      I really enjoyed reading your introduction because it flowed so smoothly. It was very clear what side of the argument you were taking. I really liked how you introduced both pieces of literature into the introduction. I also liked your comparisons, It made the text seem really good.

      Honestly I don’t have much to say to critique your introduction except say that your first sentence should be worded a little differently.

  13. sflynn3

    Is art a waste of time? It truly is a simple question. It comes down to what you believe or don’t believe in. Rhy Southan believes is is not only useful, but it would be unlivable without. The world of art is so massive but should it really be like this? An Effective Altruism group believes that art is a waste of time and that artists should have a real job that can actually contribute to society. I believe that art is beautiful and gives joy and happiness to everyone around it. Just imagine for a second, everything about you and your surroundings is some sort of artwork. The buildings around you, the structures of different things, even your own clothes is all art. I truly believe that without art, this society would look completely different from the way it looks now. There would be no designs to anything. The world would be flat out just plane.

    • jtravassos

      I like how you said “Is art a waste of time?” and then going on to say how all though it is a simple question, there is not a simple answer. I think that by doing this you are giving yourself a great lead in to talk about art and peoples different views on it.

      That being said I think that you should save that beginning to use as the topic sentence for like your first paragraph and use the imagery part as your intro. I think its more powerful and draws the reader in more to start with the “Just imagine for a second”. Also by doing this you leave the over all interpretation of what art is more broad which will allow you to be more focused and to the point later on in your paper.

      Over all though I like the direction you are going!!!

    • Alexis Deguzman

      I like your intro paragraph, just be sure to proof read your writing out loud maybe to see any errors or mistakes you have make. For example in the third sentence, “is” was said twice in a row. Maybe it was intentional? This is why maybe reading it out loud to your self may help you find things that may not sound like the quite make sense.

      But overall, I really enjoyed reading it. The question hook is what I like to use too!

  14. emacdonald7

    Art is defined as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power”. Author Rhys Southan and conductor Benjamin Zander had very different opinions on the power of art and how it can change the world. While Southan and Effective Altruism seemed to view art as material and meaningless, Zander believed in using classical music to empower others and create a positive emotional impact. There are many ways to change the world for the better. Effective Altruism believed that only money can help reduce the world’s suffering. However, Zander recounted stories in his Ted Talk about times people had come up to him after performances and told him how his music had changed them. He believed that classical music has the power to change the world.

    • mrogers5

      I like that you are showing opposing views and stating them as such in order to show multiple points of views on how different people feel about art and its purpose in society. The way you have set up this introduction gives the reader a good idea of what is to come, as well as different arguments that might be made or referenced during the paper. To strengthen your introduction you might want to consider making a statement or hook, then directly after stating the definition of art in order to pull the reader in a bit more from the start. Also at the end of your introduction maybe state your stance on the purpose of art in order to tie in your view alongside the opposing views.

    • hlaclaire

      One suggestion I have for your intro, is to incorporate what you believe, so the reader knows were you stand on the subject.

      I really enjoy how you use the definition of art as your first sentence, it is an interesting way to introduce your topic.

  15. jtravassos

    Culture by definition is “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.” From this definition of culture we can see that art is a vital part of what makes us human. If you look all the way back in time, artwork can be found that was made by Aboriginal civilization, the ancient Greeks, the Egyptians, and almost every other culture. Through art historians are able to understand a culture and to determine what life was like for the people of different times. This can also explain modern cultures. Even within the 21st century there have been defining art that has touched the lives of million. When you hear the names Prince, Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles, or Pablo Picasso, you know who they are and what they did whether you are 18 or 80.

  16. nblangiardi

    The form of art is introduced to people at a young age. Overtime, we as people come to realize that art is everywhere and comes in all different forms. Throughout schooling art is usually a required course and as students get older they question if it is actually important or not. So is art important or is it a waste of time? Rhys Southan would argue that life is unlivable without art, whereas, the Effective Altruism Movement (EA) would argue that it is a waste of time and people should be focusing on world problems like suffering. This world is a big place, with different people, with many different opinions. As for me, I had originally thought art was a waste of time, but with consideration after looking and reading into it, I learned that art is in fact, essential.

    • aahmed4

      I really like how you make sure we remember that art is taught to us at a young age and that it is something that stick with us. I think maybe you need to make it clear about what types of art Southan mentions in his work. Because the art classes we take throughout our early education years is the true form of art, as in painting, drawing, watercolors, pottery. Art is so much more than that; just make sure to mention that difference before you transition into Southans work. Lastly, I like how put in your personal opinion right at the end. Do you have a specific anecdote that you could tag along with this to give us readers just a little more context on what you mean.

  17. ekrueger1

    Art is a form of expression that has been influencing society since the beginning of time, as different forms of art are still recognized today. A lot of the work created by artists allow society to incorporate it and connect to it. There are multiple ways art can be used to show meaning, all it takes is the commitment of the viewer to process it. Rhy Southan’s “Is Art a Waste of Time?” connects with the TED talk “Can art amend history?” by Titus Kaphar, demonstrating and relating the powerfulness of art with the real world. Using art in the real world, allows for viewers to attach and develop deeper understandings of the positives, making it essential to continue this form of expression in the future.

    • djackson9

      I think that your introduction has nice flow to it by starting out with a little background information on the topic. Then going into the texts that were involved followed by your belief. I agree with you that using art in the real world does allow for the person viewing to develop deeper thinking. They are forced to think on their own without any words to push their thoughts.

  18. Sierra Pepper

    “Artists, meanwhile, paint the beautiful landscape in front of them while the rest of the world burns.” The EA believes that there is no much that art can do for the world, other than taking up supplies and money where they could be used to help others. They believe that unless something is the best that there has ever been, what’s the point? I think that the point is, art can help. Art is a therapy, a connecter, a peace token. Koolhaas and Urhahn say in their TED Talk, How Painting can Transform Communities, how their transformation of the favelas and of North Philly was able to make people take a second thought about the communities. So even though it may not be helping those starving in other countries, how can somebody say that art does not make a difference?

    • emacdonald7

      I like how you started your introduction with a quote, and this one is a good example of how EA feels about art. I think you could incorporate the TED Talk’s ideas and your own opinions more to strengthen the paragraph.

  19. cchampagne1

    The internal struggle of the authors Southan and Zander is if art really makes a difference in the world’s struggles. Suthan is an artist in the mist of writing a screenplay when he is confronted with the conflict of his ideas versus the Effective Altruists, who believe that you must be doing above and beyond the good someone else in your position would be doing.This is an idea called replaceability. Southan is originally unsure if he is being selfish by deciding to continue his work as an artist, but in the end decides that he will continue since it brings himself joy. Zander is confronted with the conflict as well, since he is trying to prove that classical music is not dying. Through personal experience, he knows the difference music can make on an individual’s life, but has to prove to the world that classical music makes a huge difference emotionally and socially and that it’s worth others time.

  20. mbecker4

    I was never much of an artist. Even now as a freshman in college I still draw at the level of a 5th grader. So, when I read Southan’s essay about the EA’s stance of art being a waste of time I bought into it. Perhaps it was my jealousy of their skillful way to make something out of nothing that caused me to believe that art was frivolous. The EA’s view on it wasn’t that far off from my own. However, after I saw a Ted Talk about how these two artists were able to transform neighborhoods into large murals it changed my view on art. They not only changed how the buildings looked, but they also changed peoples’ views on those neighborhoods. Once slummy neighborhoods known for crime and violence are now being seen in a new light. Now I believe that art is not a waste of time and could benefit the wellbeing of people like giving them food and medicine like the EA would.

    • twilliams13

      I think you did a good job beginning your paragraph by intriguing the reader with something they could relate to and you made it humorous. You also went on with your opinion of art and your experiences and related it to Southan’s essay and how the EA views art. You were able to interpret your own judgement of the article at first and own the possibilities of why you had bought into their argument while viewing the other side of why art is not a waste of time when including the Ted Talk. You could use a couple adjectives on how they changed the buildings or what the buildings looked like to show the reader imagery and so they can appreciate the beauty of their art. To strengthen your response, you could end the introduction with an idea that intrigues the reader even more like you did at the beginning. For example, rather than saying now i believe that it isn’t a waste of time, relate it to your previous sentence and briefly say how the painters in the Ted Talk may have changed your view and how they could have directly benefitted the community. Nice work!

    • Max Russell

      Mitch, I like how you connected your own experiences to the ideas that the EA movement supports. I also like how you used a little bit of imagery when you mentioned the newly painted neighborhoods, “They not only changed how the buildings looked, but they also changed peoples’ views on those neighborhoods. Once slummy neighborhoods known for crime and violence are now being seen in a new light.” These two sentences really draw the reader into seeing the effect that the artwork had on the bad neighborhoods. Maybe add some more descriptive text to give the reader a better taste of what the artwork comprised of.

  21. Max Russell

    Titus Kaphar believes that art can be used to better society by changing people’s perceptions of past events and historical paintings, sculptures, and other artwork. He describes in a TED Talk interview his rendition of a Frans Hals painting, where he covers up the white family with white paint, leaving the young black child visible. Certainly, The Effective Altruism movement would find this endeavor a waste of time, considering the fact that the Effective Altruism movement revolves around the idea that resources and labor should be used to better society, and if those resources are not directly being used to improve human’s conditions, then it is a waste of time and supplies.

  22. nscarfo

    The key question brought up in Southan’s text is actually the title of the piece, “Is Art a Waste of Time?” That is a question where the answer depends on who you are and how you view art. The Effective Altruists in Southan’s text seemed very skeptical about art and its ability to do good in a world that needs change. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Titus Kaphar believes that art is history, and that the figures and characters depicted in various paintings, poems, screenplays, etc. have more of an impact on the world than many may think.

    • Parker Belsky

      I enjoyed the hook and like how you incorporated both artists into the beginning question. You should continue that theme throughout the first paragraph instead of alternating them every other sentence. begin to create general sentences that can be used in a form of topic sentences for later on paragraphs.

  23. dscott6

    Who makes things worth doing? In each situation people find purpose in what they are doing or not. Art is a form that most people enjoy doing, drawing on the edges of your note book while teachers drone on and on about a subject you could care less about. It’s a way of escape. However not all people see that it is needed in a society. The Effictive Aluturists were looked at and written about by Rhys Southan. They believe in helping others in the most effective way possible, most of the time by giving up your hard earned cash. They view art as pointless, that it helps no one. It can’t change the world or help people as much as money could. What makes them the deciders of what is pointless and what isn’t? Why would they call one thing pointless and another thing valuable?

    • Sierra Pepper

      I like how you were able to bring in things that most students can relate to, “drawing on the edges of your notebook while teachers drone on and on about a subject you could care less about?” I think that it adds a connection element that can help people understand. I also like how you started and ended with a question, making people think.

  24. bpeters5

    Benajamin Zander’s TED talk about classical music, and Rhys Southan’s essay Is art a waste of time are examples of how influential art can be to be to the human race. Most of society views art as something beautiful, but they do not value it as highly as they would English or math.

    • emacdonald7

      If you incorporate more of Zander’s and Southan’s ideas, it would make your paragraph stronger. You can also introduce your own opinions, which will give the audience a more informed view on what your paper will be about.
      Why doesn’t society view art as highly as English or math? I think this is a good point, and explaining the reasons behind that will help your introduction.

    • elederman

      Try using a hook that draws the reader in more. Maybe throw in a quote about how art is something that is actually important in society. Along with how it is just as important as math or science.

  25. ngosselin1

    There are truly many ways in which art has meaning in our society. Rhys Southan, a screen-writer, discusses art’s place in the world within the text “Is Art a Waste of Time?”. This text allows the audience to question their own thoughts about if they believe art is useful or not. Throughout this text, Southan looks into the views of Effective Altruists, who believe that art is a waste of time and resources that could be spent on doing something more productive. However, Titus Kaphar, a painter and sculptor, brings to the table an interesting point with the value of art history, which allows one to think about the value of art in a different way. Kaphar and Southan both have similar views and opinions on art which revolve around its positive impact on society. Art being used as historical and emotional value is a relevant topic that both artists would agree are important. I believe that art does find a place for itself in our world by touching the hearts of those who find the beauty in it, and those who find the importance of the culture within.

  26. elederman

    “According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty” The world is full of atrocities. With pictures we can help share the stories of those people that are living in them. The world is full of terrible thing but people do not realize how bad they really are unless they see what is actually happening.
    Throughout history the usage of photography has helped show world issues and tragedies. From pictures of the Vietnam war to pictures of just a homeless boy begging on the side of the road, photos help share a story. With the art of photography we can help spread awareness all over the world. Art exposes the raw side of the world, it allows people to actually see the issues or event that are happening. People hear about this things but when you show them a photo it hits them how bad things really are.

    • nscarfo

      I like how you started your intro paragraph with a quotation. That immediately gets the readers interested in your essay. Also, include your TED Talk and Southan’s piece in your intro so readers know where your essay is heading.

    • bpeters5

      After analyzing Eric’s Intro paragraph I was able to take home some knowledge about intro paragraphs of my own. Eric wrote about the pictures and especially murals that can help inspire kids in poverty stricken areas. Eric does a good job of showing how a mural can brighten up a neighborhood, as art is a form of inspiration.
      The only thing I would like Eric to change a little bit is the repetitiveness, towards the end of the paragraph he started to get more and more repetitive about how a picture can promote change. Other than that I really like Eric’s writing, especially the quote he used to open up the Introduction .

  27. jeppright

    “Is Art a Waste of Time?” Take a minute to sit back and reflect on that question, Is art really a waste of time? Than take a moment in time to look around, everything you see is virtually made up of art. The chair you are sitting in, the clothes you’re wearing were once just creative ideas, then transformed and designed and built by a team of artists. An activist group known as Effective Altruism believes that we should we do anything we can to help people suffering around us. They stay strong to their mission statement and believe artists shouldn’t indulge in a personal hobby while they could be doing something to directly save lives. To answer your question from earlier, yes, yes art is 100% worth it in every aspect that it has ever existed and I’m here to explain why.

    • ngosselin1

      I like the first few sentences because it really intrigues the reader and draws them into what you’re about to talk about. It allows them to think and answer the questions in their head before diving right in.
      One suggestion I have is to maybe bring up one or two of your reasons why art is important so that the reader has an idea of what exactly you’re going to be discussing throughout your essay.

  28. Taylor Williams

    Art has the power to expand from within an individual into the community as it brings together people who are working to transform something considered worthless to worthwhile. Creating art means taking action towards a goal that ultimately benefits the world and should not be considered a waste of time as seen by Effective Altruists in Southan’s article “Is Art a Waste of Time?” For example, Painters Haas and Hahn show in their Ted talk that they bring together communities to join their art project as they are giving joy to the people and their community as a whole. They are transforming “slums” into “open-air galleries.”

    • Jeff

      Very well said, did a great job attracting the reader right away and maintained the same interest throughout the entire paragraph. My only suggestion would to mention Southan, but it’s very good.

  29. Parker Belsky

    Rhys Southan’s Is Art a Waste of Time and Titus Kaphlar’s Ted Talk represent alternate views on art and artists’ influence in today’s society. Southan’s essay describes struggle for all artists not finding a sense of originality and being viewed as uninfluential on an individual scale. Titus Kaphlar’s TED talk tells of a much different story where a simple question from his son about a sculpture in front of the Smithsonian Museum motivates him to work on amending all historical artwork to portray a more modern cultural view. Both artists have the ability to change the world in there own way but their individual approach to the situation clash.

    • mbecker4

      I really like how you were able to summarize both the Ted Talk and the essay, and compare them. It has set the reader up for what the essay is going to be about. Great job!

    • I was really good how you were able to set up what your essay is going to be about right away by summarizing both the TED Talk and Southan’s piece. I also like how you ended your opening paragraph with a hook.

  30. kmorrissette1

    Have you ever looked a masterpiece and wondered how it would look in real life? Would this add more inspiration to our dull plain world? Is art a waste of time? Well, then you’re reading the right Prompt. I watched a video called, ‘How Painting can Transform Communities’ by Haas and Hahn. What they did was found a undeveloped area where the communities had to make their own homes. These houses weren’t completely finished yet people still would be living in them. Haas and Hahn helped finish them houses by plastering them and painting them. But this wasn’t your average everyday house. They turned this house into a home. With special techniques they design a home that is a piece of art. Stunning to look at and very inspiring to its viewers. Comparing this to Rhys Southan’s essay, ‘Is art a waste of time?’ really makes me believe that art isn’t a waste.

    • elederman

      Great introduction, really pulls the reader in. The questions make you want to read more of what you have to say.

  31. adeguzman

    What is art? Does it even matter? Why should it be considered valuable, if it even should be at all? To many, art has a voice, strong and powerful even. To others it might as well be used as fire starters. Those others dismiss art, maybe they’re afraid of it? People are afraid of what they don’t understand. Like the people involved in the Effective Altruism movement, they brush art off and to them it has not importance. The other many understand art, they know this it has a greater meaning that what the eye can see and a greater power than what money can buy. Like Ryhs Southan and Titus Kaphar who share similar views in art and actively acknowledge its importance.

    • egardner2

      I think you did a great job of hooking your reader, and catching their attention. One suggestion I have is to expand the end of your paragraph, in order to include more information about Southan and Titus into your introduction.

  32. rmuthyam

    There are many ways to look at art. Some think that art is not a good use of time and is a waste of precious resources. On the other hand, some argue that art has the potential to change lives and create a change. Art, especially in today’s world where poverty, war, and illnesses are increasing, is relevant to people around the world to provide happiness, joy, and entertainment around the world. Three authors who discuss about the role of art in our society and how it can impact people are Rye Southan, Haas, and Hahn. In their articles, they discuss how useful art is to the world and if is useful, how can it be utilized to help the most people. The article, “Is Art a Waste of Time” and the TED talk, “How painting can transform communities” portrays the usefulness of art in different lights and offers how art can be useful and how art can be wasteful.

    • mbecker4

      What is your view on art? I see that you were able to summarize what their views are, but you should also include your view in the introductory paragraph so your readers can understand why you are writing. It will give them a reason to keep on reading.

  33. jmckechnie

    What is the best way to be driven by your moral duties and make the world a better place? When is the last time you changed the world? Who has that kind of power anyway? I will tell you a story about how two artists came up with an idea that changed some of the most impoverished and depressed cities in the world by throwing a little bit of paint on the wall. How does art play a role in improving the life of others? Southan would say that you should directly interact with the world around you by helping people who are less fortunate than yourself. I am going to discuss what we as humans should do to help one another. How can we help each other through direct and indirect interaction.

    • Olivia R Gagne

      I love your introduction! Your questions brings the reader in to become more curious as to what you have to say. It lets the reader question if they are doing good in the world, and makes us excited to learn more about what you are going to say. I never put that connection between Southan and the artists who painted the cities when you made that connection when you said “you should directly interact with the world around you”. I’ve been focusing on how Southan feels down because of the EA, but this was a very good point you have made! You have a great voice throughout this intro, and made your claim clear!

      If you were to improve this, I would put the names of the artists who painted the city (Haas and Hahn), and then I would start to develop tension by mentioning why you are talking about how art is affecting the world. To do so, I would mention something about the EA, and how they have a very different perspective compared to Southan and Hass and Hahn. This would help enlighten the reader on the reason you are arguing different was we can help one another. Very well done!

  34. emeyer2

    Often when someone is told to imagine art, they visualize pretentious and/or old people at a gallery staring at abstracts, drinking wine and eating cheese. However, art could be utilized in a number of different ways that could make a huge difference in the world. In Rhys Southan’s article Is Art a Waste of Time?, he illustrates his internal struggle with answering that question. And it wasn’t until I compared his article with the Ted Talk titled Can Art Amend History?, that I could develop a firm opinion myself. Art is a unutilized tool that has loads of untapped potential.

    • kjillson

      Your introduction is very well written and I like how you use a visual example to really paint a picture in the readers mind. Starting off a paper like this grabs the reader and makes them want to continue reading. Good job talking about both Rhys Southan and the Ted talk because you must add both of them in you introduction paragraph.

      If you were to improve this, I would add more about the Ted Talk and your opinions on that. You said how you could develop a firm opinion on it but you should express it in the text after. Other then that you have a very good intro paragraph.

  35. […] I liked reading other people’s rough draft introduction paragraphs. I had no idea how I wanted to approach this paper before walking into class today. When we had to respond to questions about how we were going to address this paper I was a bit lost. Even after when we had to write our introduction paragraphs and post them, I was not really sure of what I was writing, but just wrote to get something down. I did not realize how hopeful this was in starting to get me thinking about what direction or perspective I wanted my paper to head. Furthermore reading other people’s introduction paragraphs sparked different ideas or trains of thoughts for my own paper. Reading how others decided to approach the beginning of this paper helped me to see what works very well versus what might be better said in another way. I definitely am going to go back rework my introduction because I feel it can be a stronger introduction if approached slightly different. You can find my comment on a peer’s introduction paragraph here. […]

  36. […] used the definition of art from google as her beginning sentence. One thing I have learned form my peers was to incorporate a personal experience or idea I have about my topic. I could incorporate an […]

  37. kjillson

    Art is more than just a simple painting on a canvas or a rock sculpted into a statue. Art tells a story and shows the artists thoughts through the process of creating it. People use art to express themselves and their ideas. It is like writing their feelings down put instead they use a paintbrush instead of a pencil. Not all art has to be meaningful. It is used as a coping mechanism, stress reliever, a hobby or just for fun. Rhys Southan is an artist himself and he believes life without art would be unlivable. A group he is apart of called the Effective Altruism Movement does not agree with Southan at all. They think that art is pointless in the world and people should be paying more attention to the people who are suffering. I believe the EA’s are totally wrong. Art has so much meaning and it is a big part of our history to just throw it all away. Titus Kaphar is a artist as well and he thinks art tells a story of our nation and we must not erase it.

    • Ethan Meyer

      Well done kjillson! I liked how you firmly stated your opinion from the very beginning of your introduction. You also transitioned to the topic of Titus and Southan really well, however there are a few typos in your fourth sentence. Keep up the good work kjillson!

  38. […] prospective on my own essay. For the paragraph that I complimented, I liked that she started her work with a quote from Southan’s “Is Art a Waste of Time?” because I thought it was a […]

  39. hlatulippe

    When an artist creates art, who is their audience? There is an ongoing debate as to who the audience is, is the audience themselves, or is the audience the public. Southan would argue art is for oneself, to create a sense of self-worth and happiness. Where as Benjamin Zander would argue that art is to inspire, intrigue and captivate others attention. Is art to create a sense of self worth, or is it to be admired by millions? Is art to give oneself happiness, or to draw emotions out of others? This ongoing debate, is one to be acknowledged.

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