Writing a Strong Conclusion Study Guide
Writing a Strong Conclusion
Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them. - JOHN RUSKIN (1819–1900) BRITISH CRITIC AND ARTIST
Finishing up with a big bang is a surefire way to impress your reader. This lesson provides advice and tips on how to conclude your essay with an effective and powerful ending.
Writing a strong conclusion is as important as writing a strong introduction. In fact, you can turn the rules and strategies for introductions upside down and apply them to writing a conclusion. Just as you want your essays to start off with a bang, you want them to end with an equivalent dramatic power.
Perhaps the most common mistake that writers make is to run out of steam and allow their essays to wind down slowly, like a clock losing battery power. The dribble-off ending is the sure sign of a weak essay, and will disappoint your audience and reveal your lack of skill as a writer. This lesson will suggest ways you can avoid this common writer's error and instead construct powerful conclusions that leave your audience with a good impression and the certain sense that you are a skilled and persuasive writer. And incidentally, a strong conclusion may just act as a counterbalance to an argument that isn't been the strongest one you've ever constructed.
As is true with introductions, there are different views on what constitutes the conclusion of a writing project. If you're writing a lengthy research paper, your conclusion will be correspondingly long and will probably contain a summary of your findings. On the other hand, if you're writing a short essay for a class assignment, your conclusion will probably be proportionally shorter, and no longer than the last paragraph of your essay. Whatever its relative length, the conclusion you write needs to fulfill certain goals.
What A Strong Conclusion Should Accomplish
As you have learned in previous lessons, every essay is essentially an argument for a point of view. Whether your writing project is a compare-and-contrast, a narrative, or an expository essay, its overall goal is to convince your readers to agree with you because they believe and enjoy what you've written, or agree, with certainty, that your point of view is a correct one. Think of the essay as a first meeting with a potential new friend: You want to make a good impression and leave your new friend anticipating another meeting with you—or in this case, wanting to read another essay written by you.
Four Strategies For Constructing A Strong Conclusion
- Restate the thesis statement. This is the most common way that writers conclude their essays, and the most easily abused technique. Simply restating the thesis is useful as a reminder to the reader, but it can be a very unimaginative device. Be sure not to restate your thesis in exactly the same words. Figure out a way to provide some amplification or a twist that will keep the reader interested.
- Shine some new light on the subject. A strong conclusion provides the reader with some new understanding of your subject. Your essay should lead the reader along a path that winds through a subject area and arrives at a new conclusion. It might be helpful to think of your conclusion as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow—the gift that the reader will receive for making the journey with you to your concluding argument.
- Stay on target. Many writers, in their panic at the end of the writing project, tend to stray off subject and conclude by opening up a new if related subject for discussion. Avoid this trap. Be sure that your conclusion is an extension of your original thesis, and that you do not conclude by suggesting some other topic.
- Get the reader involved. An effective way to conclude many essays is to appeal to the reader's emotions. With the use of specific details, you can encourage the reader to make personal associations with your argument and feel the same emotions that you feel about your subject. Another way to get the reader involved is to challenge the reader to consider your argument directly; alternatively, be daring and challenge the reader to dispute an argument you've made very strongly.