Rudolph Flesch suggested we plan a beginning, middle, and end. Sound advice.
The lead sentence should lead the reader in. The beginning paragraph should introduce the subject or subjects. Succeeding paragraphs should illuminate those subjects. An ending should wrap up the topic just discussed.
A lead sentence should be snappy and to the point.
“I don’t like peanut butter and jelly, I love it.”
The lead paragraph gets us ready for the individual points to be discussed. A quote is often helpful.
“I don’t like peanut butter and jelly, I love it. James Garfield once said ‘Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.’ Aside from neglecting admiration for jelly, I heartily agree with the president’s remarks. In this article we’ll look at the roles that bread, jelly, and peanut butter play in forming this quintessential American sandwich.”
- A paragraph or two on bread.
- A paragraph or two on jelly.
- A paragraph or two on peanut butter.
- A paragraph or two on making the sandwich.
A concluding paragraph summarizes or pulls together the different elements of the essay. Adding a quote can help. Look for an appropriate one before writing the ending, so you can better shape your last paragraph. I see potential in this Anna D. Shapiro quotation:
“Everyone has the talent to some degree: even making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you know whether it tastes better to you with raspberry jam or grape jelly; on chewy pumpernickel or white toast.”
The ending is the second most important paragraph in an article. (The lead is the most important because you have to get the reader to read.) Without a proper ending you’ll leave readers dangling. If you can hook your last paragraph to the beginning, make it echo, very good. In my case here, I’ll leave you with another quote from Flesch. “Say what you have to say, then stop.”