Here are five good ways to write a conclusion for your piece, whether it’s an article, essay, short story, or poem.
These tips for writing strong endings are from one of my regular guest bloggers, Susan Johnston of the Urban Muse. Keep these tips handy, because you’ll need to keep referring to them!
Before her tips, a quip:
“There are no dull subjects,” said H.L. Mencken. “There are only dull writers.”
Dull writing makes for dull reading, fellow scribes. To jazz up your writing and improve your writing confidence, read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
And, here are Johnston’s five tips for writing great conclusions…
How to Write a Conclusion That Works
Many writers (including me) find it agonizingly hard to write strong endings because there’s so much at stake. We want to leave readers with a poignant, thought-provoking conclusion, but we also don’t want it to read too trite or corny.
Here are some tips on writing a compelling conclusion.
Use a strong image or quote
There are tons of articles that use quotes or imagery as their conclusion. If you’re using a quote, make sure it’s a good one. In addition to relaying information, it should impart humor and/or wisdom and also be broad enough to sum up the rest of the article. Writing a great conclusion can be as simple as using a quip!
Conclude your article or essay with humor
In this humorous essay by a stay-at-home Dad, the author contrasts his own perspective with that of a father who works in an office. It’s a humorous way to write a great conclusion, and it keeps the essay from sounding too depressed or self-pitying about the author getting laid off. Humor is hard, so if it doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t force it. To write a great conclusion, consider using #1 instead.
Refer back to the introduction
This creates a nice sense of completeness and unity. For instance, in this article about staying in touch while living abroad, the author mentions Oreos at the beginning, then mention the Oreos again at the very end. Rounding back to the beginning is a great way to write a conclusion.
Edit out your last few sentences (the best tip for writing conclusions)
Many writers tend to over-write their conclusions, so often you’ll find that once you take a stab at it, you can go back and delete several sentences without losing any of the meaning. It will feel like you’ve come to a natural conclusion instead of easing your way into an endpoint.
If you’re really stuck, let your conclusion marinate
To write a great conclusion, step away from the computer and do something else. You’ll come up with a good ending when you’re on the treadmill or at the grocery store or some other place when you’re not expecting it. That way your conclusion will come to you organically instead of forcing it out. That’s how I found an ending to an essay about me and my brother.
Of course, many blog posts end with a series of questions designed to open up a conversation.
What do you think – what’s your best tip for writing a great conclusion?
If you still can’t figure out how to write a conclusion, read 10 Short Story Endings to Avoid.
Susan Johnston is a Boston-based freelance writer and blogger who has covered business and lifestyle topics for The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, DailyCandy.com, Yahoo! HotJobs, and many other publications. Want to know more? check out The Urban Muse or follow her on Twitter.