Thursday, March 14, 2013

Make the Ending a “Happily Ever After”

Believe it or not, the rest of the semester is about to fly by. With Spring Break in just over a week, the rest of the semester will be filled with projects, papers, and studying for finals, of course. So, of course, the most important thing is to end the year strong. No one wants to reach summer vacation only to be haunted by the preceding school year.
You can think of your writing in the same way. Many people have trouble with strong conclusions. Something about ending a paper simply terrifies some people. You may get to the final few body paragraphs and get research-paper-itis. You may feel as though you could not possibly write another word! However, the conclusion is where you make your lasting impression. Whether it is for a narrative, personal statement, or research paper, you want a shining ending.
While there is, unfortunately, no set formula for the perfect conclusion, there are several things to consider when constructing one.
      Your conclusion should give your work a sense of completeness. Think of J.K. Rowling’s famous final sentence to the Harry Potter series: “All was well.” This gives the reader a sense of peace. (Imagine if the last thing you read was that Harry still had one horcrux left to find!) Read through your paper as though you have never seen the subject before. Have you left the reader feeling complete, or does it seem like it could go into a new section? Make sure all loose ends are tied by the conclusion.
       Emphasize the “selling factor” of your paper. Don’t repeat what you said, just finalize the sale. Especially for a paper with several pieces of evidence supporting it, you will want to create the big picture and use the sum of all parts to make the ideas even more meaningful as a whole.

·         Answer the question “so what?” Why does your paper matter? Show the importance to your reader.

·         Return to your introduction. If you return to the theme of the introduction, the conclusion will feel more integrated into the story. Any story, question, quote, etc. that you mention in your introduction could be referenced in your conclusion.

·         Don’t feel the need to use “in conclusion,” or anything similar to that phrase. The reader will understand that this is your conclusion without having to tell them.

·         Do not add any new information that would be suited for the body of your paper. Any support or evidence needs to happen before this point. The more you stray from what was already said in the paper, the less likely the reader will feel that your argument is complete.

Just like in the case of finishing out a wonderful school year, hard work on the ending of a paper will pay off. Commit some time to your conclusions. Remember, this is the last thing that will be read, and will determine much of someone’s attitude for your work!

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