An Important Must for any Writer:  That Second-Coolest Paragraph, the Concluding Paragraph!

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The lemmings of writing fall into the abyss of confusion and “Huh?” by the reader.  These are the essays, the columns, the articles that read as if a knife suddenly sliced off the end; the reader has nicely and dutifully followed each paragraph, knowing a finality, a summary, a conclusion will eventually appear – but then nothing.  That so-important second-coolest paragraph, the concluding paragraph, is not to be found; it is a paragraph every good writer must not only insert but also one that allows a reader to feel satisfied when the writing tome has been completed.

There is, of course, that coolest paragraph of all:  the opening paragraph.  Yet without a perfectly crafted concluding paragraph that opening paragraph is all the reader would be given for a quick overview of the writing to come.  Include a well-written concluding paragraph and the reader is reminded of that thesis – the main focus of the writing – offered in the opening paragraph.  To continue with an overall reminder of the essay et al. the concluding paragraph will also offer a brief summary of two or three main supporting points and an item to keep the reader focusing on the entirety once the last word is read: a quote, or an interesting piece of info, or a question – each connected to the thesis statement.

For the thesis statement there is a neat little trick to be sure it’s read:  rewrite the thesis statement, but make sure its focus remains the same.  The reason has to do with the reader’s mind:  if that mind sees a thesis statement appearing word for word as written in the opening paragraph there is a good possibility it will be skipped over, i.e., “I’ve already read that – why read it again?”  If, however, appearing to be not previously read the mind stops:  “Ah, this I’ve yet to see!”  Here’s an example of an original thesis:  Many diseases have ravaged the United States in its history, but perhaps none so impactful as COVID-19, for more than 700,000 people have died, employers can’t find enough workers, and a severe supply chain shortage has greatly impacted buyers and sellers.  Rewritten it asks to be read as new writing:  The disease of COVID-19 stands out as the worst disease in U.S. history with nearly three-quarters of a million people dead, workers in short supply, and a slowdown of goods and services due to supply chain shortages.

Next would be a brief summary of a few points supporting the thesis. These are always included in the closing paragraph to remind the reader why the author’s thesis should be accepted, that the author’s opinion has been proven.  Continuing with the same thesis statement this might be included:  Strong evidence to support this thesis exists: U.S. deaths from COVID-19 exceed all casualties from foreign conflicts in U.S. history, pay offers for employees are the highest recorded to lure workers, and the severe supply chain shortage is predicted to have a large negative impact on the Christmas buying season.

Finally, it’s important to give the reader a knock-out punch of sorts in the concluding paragraph, something that will drive home the importance of the thesis statement. As mentioned above, this can be done with a resounding quote, an interesting fact, or a rhetorical question (that is, one for the reader to contemplate after finishing the reading) related to the thesis.  Here is an example of each, related to the same thesis:

QUOTE.  This devastating impact of COVID-19 was recently addressed by Dr. Robert Puhman (2021), editor of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report:  “To put the Covid death rate in perspective, more people have died in the United States than the total population of Washington DC.”

INTERESTING FACT.  An interesting and frightening sidenote to COVID-19’s horrific swath across the U.S. is the greatest rise in folks visiting psychologists and psychiatrists in U.S. history has occurred in the nearly 2 years since the disease first struck.

RHETORICAL QUESTION.  COVID-19’s impact has been strongly documented, and perhaps the most important question to come out of this is how has this disease impacted you – and going forward how will your life be different?     

The concluding paragraph is now ready to be assembled with the three components above (including an added sentence or two for a smooth read); choosing the quote, this concluding paragraph will give the reader a logical, precise ending to the essay, with great reminders of the essay’s thesis, its main supporting points, and an item to underscore the importance of the thesis:

The disease of COVID-19 stands out as the worst disease in U.S. history with 700,000 people dead, workers in short supply, and a slowdown of goods and services due to supply chain shortages. Strong evidence to support this thesis exists: U.S. deaths from COVID-19 exceed all casualties from foreign conflicts in U.S. history, pay offers for employees are the highest recorded to lure workers, and the severe supply chain shortage is predicted to have a large negative impact on the Christmas season buying.  This devastating impact of COVID-19 was recently addressed by Dr. Robert Puhman (2021), editor of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report:  “To put the Covid death rate in perspective, more people have died in the United States than the total population of Washington DC.”  One can only hope that such stark reminders of COVID-19 in the U.S. will fade behind an optimistic, robust, and healthy 2022.

The second-coolest paragraph – the concluding paragraph — has arrived in its full glory!

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