Knowing how to write an ending to your magazine article, academic essay, or book chapter is almost as important as writing a lead that hooks your readers. In fact, your ending is one of the most important parts of your writing! That, and all the stuff in the middle, of course.
Before the tips, a quip from writer Rita Mae Brown:
“Writing and money appear to be mutually exclusive,” said Brown, author of over a dozen books about horses, hounds, and hunts.
Writing and money are mutually exclusive? Not if you treat your writing career like a business — which is what “Quips & Tips for Successful Writers” is all about! And part of the writing biz is knowing how to end your articles, book chapters, and essays. If you haven’t read William Zinsser’s On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction make sure you get it today.
And, here are five ways to write an ending to your magazine article, academic essay, or book chapter…
How to Write an Ending to Articles, Essays, Chapters
Some writers believe the conclusion could have worked as the lead or introduction. It rounds out the article, and ties up the loose ends. The conclusion shouldn’t be an afterthought. To be effective, a great ending has to develop naturally from the article, essay, or chapter. The conclusion has to both surprise readers and make them feel like they should’ve known it was coming all along.
To write an ending or conclusion for your work, you could…
End with a quotation or startling statement
You don’t necessarily want to add anything too new in your conclusion, but you can effectively include a surprising twist at the end. “…don’t make the surprise so foreign that it seems out of place and doesn’t tie into the article. If the quote or surprising statement seems out of place, then you only leave the reader confused, and you have lost the value of what you have built throughout the article,” writes Roger Palms in Effective Magazine Writing: Let Your Words Reach the World.
Invite the reader to go in a different direction
The best type of ending to write is one that both wraps the article up with a nice tidy bow and gives the reader something new to chew on. This is difficult for most writers – even seasoned freelancers – and I can’t even think of a good example right now! Great conclusions wrap the essay, article, or chapter up neatly, while giving the reader something new to consider.
End your magazine article or book chapter with a story
This type of conclusion can involve a whole new anecdote, or a new part of an anecdote you’ve introduced in the lead or body of the article. Palms says, “Often I like to end with a relevant story, a little vignette, something with a feeling that captures the essence of the article.”
Summarize your article or academic essay at the end
A summary isn’t the best way to end your article, essay, or chapter because it can be boring…but it can work. It depends on the writer’s creativity (edgy and quirky writing will keep readers hooked!), the content of the essay, and even the lead of the article. Writing a summary ending is an option — but as Palms says, “You also run the risk of having your readers quite the article before you have concluded.”
Circle back to your lead
Ending your essay or article with a reference to your lead “gives a feeling of arrival,” says Palms. “You might want to pick up a word, a phrase, or part of an anecdote from the lead and bring it into the conclusion.”
“I like to leave people with a hook at the end of an article, something that lodges in their minds so deeply that they can’t forget it right away,” says Palms. “A good ending ties together all the discoveries.”
If you have any questions or thoughts on ending your articles, essays, or chapters, please comment below…
And, remember that writing a good ending involves a lot editing and revising!
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello and share your thoughts below. If not, go well....and don't forget to come back.