How to Write Narrative Conclusions

To conclude a narrative essay, impart a new meaning in life for the reader.
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In the conclusion of a narrative essay, you impart your takeaway message, a lesson or a reflection -- a new discovery of meaning in life -- to your reader. A narrative essay is one of the many rhetorical modes in writing, such as description, comparison and contrast, definition, argument, evaluation, illustration, classification, cause and effect, process and analysis. But, for the conclusion to work, all parts of the narrative essay must build toward it.

1 Narrative Essay

The introduction should signal to the reader why you are writing about an unforgettable event.
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Open your introduction with the overall background information about the significant event, person or object, explaining why you have decided to write about it. A narrative essay often opens with a time-signaling device, such as “Once upon a time,” “When I graduated from high school” or “Last night.” Typically, you will provide the background information of the event in journalistic details: who, what, where, when, why and how. You can further enhance your background information by using sensory perceptions -- such as visual, tactile, olfactory, and auditory images -- to enhance the description of the event.

2 Organizing Body Paragraphs

Use topic sentences to drive the content.
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In the ensuing body paragraphs, organize the content according to how the event occurred chronologically -- such as first, second and third -- or by what the event has taught you in three significant areas of your life. For example, you can say your auto accident taught you the following three important lessons: never drive drunk, accidents can happen to anyone anywhere and life is more valuable than a few drinks. Use these three lessons as your topic sentences in each body paragraph, supported by real life examples based on your personal observation and experience, again, using personal details. For example, your first topic sentence might read, “The car wreck taught me never to drive drunk again,” followed by supporting arguments based on your real-life experience of having actually had a car wreck.

3 Transitional Devices

Transitional devices help build toward a conclusion.
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Ordering your narrative essay chronologically in the sequence of how the event has unfolded makes your story flow better. But by ordering your body paragraphs with the lessons you have learned, you are showing your critical ability to describe an event in the introduction -- a simple task -- and then taking off from that simple event to a critical thinking, such as lessons learned -- a more complex task. However, either way of organizing your narrative will be fine as long as you offer a takeaway message in your conclusion.

4 Closing Narrative Essays

Describe your moment of epiphany in the conclusion.
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The conclusion of narrative essays is not different from others types of essays: it provides a sense of awakening, a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, recognition, insight and comprehension so that the readers will take away this epiphany you are trying to share. You might say something like: "I realized that drinking and driving do not mix and that my life -- and the lives of others -- may depend on my remembering this." Such a conclusion should ultimately lead the reader to act according to your persuasion, such as not to drive drunk in this case.

  • 1 Evergreen, A Guide to Writing with Reading; Susan Fawcett

Dr. Yoon Kim earned a Ph. D. in English from Oklahoma State University. His editing experience includes Ph.D. dissertations (English), and senior professor’s research articles (Psychology and Education) that are published in peer-reviewed professional journals.