Wednesday, September 7, 2011

As Summer Draws to a Close...

A commonly used cliché states that you should go out with a bang. Working at the WVU Writing Center, a common problem I see is in a neglected conclusion. Most professors stress the necessity of a strong introduction, and while this is essential to any good paper, so is a good concluding paragraph. In my experience, I have come across many wonderful introductions, yet it was obvious that the writer focused most of their energy on the beginning, causing the end of their paper to be lacking. Therefore, as the new semester begins, I hope that you will begin to consider the necessity of ending your paper with a bang.

Concluding paragraphs, along with the introduction, provide the back-bone for a good essay. This said, a conclusion can be one of the most difficult things to write in a paper. The point of a conclusion is to help a reader relate the ideas in your paper to their everyday lives by establishing a logical ending to your writing. Abrupt or inadequate endings can suddenly cut readers off in the middle of an idea, and long, wordy, conclusions may leave a reader hanging or confused on specific issues. Therefore, writing a good conclusion is essential. For an ending that reinforces the main points and flows smoothly, a couple strategies can be used:

  • Ask yourself "so what" about the information and ideas presented in your paper to help yourself discover what you want to say in your conclusion.
  • Start the concluding paragraph by finding new words in which to restate your original thesis.
  • Synthesize, don't summarize. Blend your main ideas in a brief summary.
  • Have a clincher to end your paper. For example, challenge the reader to seek more information, point to the broader implications, or look to the future.
Additionally, there are a few things that you should strive to avoid doing when writing a conclusion. For instance, you should try not to introduce new ideas, use clichéd phrases such as "In conclusion," and reword the introduction instead of restating the thesis. A conclusion is meant to wrap up your paper. It should not be just another body paragraph with a concluding sentence tacked on the end, nor should it be only a sentence or two. Good conclusions will hopefully leave your readers happy that they read your essay.

On the whole, while concluding paragraphs can sometimes be difficult to write, with the proper help and knowledge, not all endings have to be painful. Whether a conclusion lacks substance because the writer just wants to finish their paper quickly or because a person is ignorant of what a proper conclusion should contain, I hope with the information I have just provided, you will now know enough to not be able to claim the latter as an excuse. Alas, as the conclusion allows you to have the final say in your paper, I will conclude this blog entry by wishing you good luck and happy writing for the fall semester!

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