Please join me in welcoming Harriet Hodgson, a #RWISA writer, to our space. She has written over 36 books, including So, You're Raising Grandkids!
Harriet has joined us today as part of her Help for Grandparents Raising Grandkids blog tour. As a nonfiction writer, she has a few tips for how to write a great conclusion.
Beefing Up Closing Paragraphs: Tips for Authors
By Harriet Hodgson
Whether you’re writing an essay, article, book proposal, book, or business letter, you need to know how to write a closing paragraph. This section is also called a conclusion or summary paragraphs. Short as they may be, closing paragraphs can be tricky to write. You need to strike a balance between saying too little and saying too much.
In my recent books I’ve tried to do a better job of writing closing paragraphs. These paragraphs have similarities, yet they differ according to the topic of the book. I want the closing paragraph of each chapter to amplify the topic, touch the reader, and generate interest in the next chapter.
A concluding paragraph isn’t the place to bring up a new idea, that’s for sure. Some closing paragraphs can be a writing challenge, even for long-term authors like me. “Wrestling with Closing Paragraphs,” an article on the English for Students website, offers other suggestions for closing essay paragraphs.
“Experienced writers occasionally have trouble tying up the threads of arguments and bringing their ideas to conclusion without lapsing into clichés and obvious comments,” the article notes.
Closing paragraphs may summarize main points, include a recommendation, or even reference your opening paragraph. The Write Place at St. Cloud State University has posted a Leo (Literacy Education Online) article, “Strategies for Writing a Conclusion.” According to the article, your closing paragraph should answer the question, “So what?” Avoid repeating information, the article advises. The tip that grabbed me: “Create new meaning.”
This is a great tip, but how do you do it? In my experience, creating new meaning is a challenge. Recently I finished a book about finding happiness after loss and grief. It’s a concise book, a quick-read for those who are mourning. When I was writing the book, I was never at a loss for words. Words and headings poured from my mind. Then I reached the end and found myself stuck on the concluding paragraph.
I revised the paragraph several times. I wrote a new version of it. I dreamed about the paragraph, meditated about it, and was still stuck. My goal was to leave the reader with a feeling of hope and the last sentence had to be just right. Finally, the words came to me.
“Happiness is a personal choice, a gift we give to ourselves. Each morning we have a chance to give ourselves this gift again. I hope you choose happiness for yourself, your family, your friends, and generations to come. Life is a miracle. Today is a new day – your day – and you can make it what you want. Your miracle is waiting.”
This paragraph meets my writing goals. First, it matches the tone of the rest of my book. Second, it repeats the point that happiness is a choice. Third, I wanted to use simple words. Fourth, I wanted to include a call to action and the words “make it what you want” are that call.
As a teacher of struggling readers and writers, I know how difficult the concluding paragraph of an essay can be, so I thank Harriet for sharing her advice. :-) For those of you who would like to learn more about Harriet, keep reading!
Harriet Hodgson, Health and Wellness Author
Rochester, Minnesota resident Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance writer for 38 years and is the author of thousands of articles and 36 books. She has a BS from Wheelock College in Boston, an MA from the University of Minnesota, and additional graduate training.
Hodgson is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). She is a contributing writer for the Open to Hope Foundation, The Grief Toolbox, and The Caregiver Space websites. Visit www.thecaregiverspace.org/authors/hhodgson to read her articles.
Hodgson has appeared on more than 185 talk radio shows, including CBS Radio, dozens of television stations, including CNN, and dozens of blog talk radio programs. A popular guest, she has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer’s, bereavement, and caregiving conferences.
Her recent work is based on Hodgson’s 21 years as a family caregiver. She was her mother’s family caregiver for nine years, her twin grandchildren’s guardian and caregiver for seven years, and is in her fifth year as her disabled husband’s caregiver. Visit www.harriethodgson.com for more information about this busy wife, grandmother, caregiver, and author.
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