Like trying to plan the perfect dessert to top off a memorable dinner, you must know the contents of the main course of an essay before you can serve up a fitting conclusion. Put another way, you cannot possibly write a memorable conclusion without knowing what leads to the final paragraph. Now is the perfect time to learn how to avoid some common pitfalls in writing conclusions for essays – before you get to college and hear the warnings dished up on a regular basis in composition courses.
Make a plausible prediction, recommendation or forecast to close your essay. This technique will help you avoid the pitfall of repetition, as in, “So as I said earlier” or “As previously stated.” Readers don’t like reading what they’ve already read. And if they missed a point, they can always flip back a page or two and reread. Pointing forward leaves your readers with a true sense of closure.
Quote a Verbal Giant
When the right words fail you, turn to the words of another in the form of a memorable quotation. This technique will help you avoid the pitfall of concluding your essay with weak expressions such as “In conclusion,” “To conclude” and “To bring matters to a close.” After all, the reader can usually see that only one or two paragraphs remain in the essay. When chosen with care, the words of a verbal giant can make you look creative while bailing you out of a tight spot.
Leave a Pleasant Aftertaste
You probably have read essays that have left you frustrated, confused or even angry because the writer abruptly stopped writing or failed to wrap up all points satisfactorily. Great conclusions should leave a reader feeling moved, impressed, amused or in a thoughtfully ponderous frame of mind. An element of surprise never hurts, either, especially when you can cook up more than the reader expected.
- The New St. Martin’s Handbook; Andrea Lunsford and Robert Connors
- The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers; Maxine Hairston and John Ruszkiewicz
- Step by Step Writing; Randy Devillez
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab: Expository Essays
- The Prentice Hall Guide to Basic Writing; Emil Roy and Sandra Roy
- Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images