While you are not required to submit your introduction yet, writing it can help you develop your thesis.
What should an introduction and a thesis statement accomplish? You might begin by offering an intriguing quote, either from a primary or secondary source; you might pose a thought-provoking question, or use an interesting anecdote. The introduction is the place to offer a brief (and by brief, I mean two sentences maximum) summary of the primary text(s) you’re writing about. Tell your reader (briefly) about the author, if you know that info. When was the text composed? After this introductory information, manipulate your reader’s interest towards your thesis—move into your own interpretation of the text. This means that you need to offer some new way of understanding the text. This does not mean that you should summarize the plot.
In a research paper, your primary goal is to offer a clear, concise argument (claim and basis) about the texts (primary and secondary) that you are analyzing, and to back up that argument with evidence, quotations, and examples. Noting the often subtle distinction between analysis and summary is key to your success. The goal is not to explain what a text is about or how it is put together (summary)—rather, the goal should be to contribute something new or original to our understanding of the text. Go deeply into one issue rather than shallowly into multiple issues.
A summary paper might be set up in the following way:
In Le Chevalier de la Charrette, a nameless knight sets out on a daring quest to rescue Queen Guenevere from the clutches of Méléagant. During his voyage, he encounters adventure after adventure… etc.
An analysis, on the other hand, might be set up like this:
Le Chevalier de la Charrette presents Guenevere as an empowered figure who commands brave knights with the slightest movement of her eyes; even a hint of her displeasure brings Lancelot, portrayed in this romance as the bravest knight who ever quested, to his knees. (claim). The remainder of your paper would focus on supporting this claim through textual examples, close-reading, quotations, and the work of other scholars.
Whereas the first paper merely traces or summarizes the content of the text, the second offers a commentary on the text’s argument, message, or significance. One is descriptive. The other is argumentative. Aim for argumentative. One thing to keep in mind is that an argument is something a reader can disagree with, potentially. So plot summary (like in the first example) is not argumentative, because it’s just factual. An argument gives you room (and requires you) to prove your claim with evidence.