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Writers: If You Thought That Conclusion Is Just A Formality, Think Again

It is much more than just say a ‘goodbye’

Photo by Will Mu from Pexels

What do the movies Planet of the Apes, Passengers, and War of the Worlds have in common?

Not a common director, producer, or a common actor. All three movies have a great pace throughout the movie, till the ending. Though the content keeps the audience enthralled, the endings fail to stick to the landing. That leaves the audience slightly disappointed.

And then there are these movies that end with a bang. Even after you have left the cineplex, it sticks to you and lingers for some time, popping its head in conversations days later.

That is how a conclusion should be. Impactful.

Psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus has concluded in his studies that the human mind tends to remember the beginnings and the ends of a list, presentation, or text. He named them the primacy effect and the recency effect. The mind retains and recalls the most recent information processed, as per the recency effect.

Hence, what a writer chooses to put in his conclusion determines the impact the story has on the reader. It is a great avenue to influence the thought of the audience.

The purpose of a conclusion

Introduction and conclusion are the most challenging components of a story. While a writer is very clear about what to write in the body of the story, framing the beginning and ending looks daunting, because neither can he give away everything in the introduction nor repeat it all in the conclusion.

The last thought

A good conclusion should give the reader something to think about long after the story is over. While the introduction does the part to bring the reader into the story, the conclusion gives a feeling of closure; a sense of completion.

Summarize

While the article contains a lot of information, the ending is where everything is amalgamated and made into something bite-size. It is like having the final say.

It is an integration of the views, reiterating the importance of the opinions, research, or sentiments that have been displayed in the story.

How to write a great conclusion

Weave a story

Start the topic with a story, anecdote, or a problem in the introduction. The body becomes the arena where you dissect the issue and address it. The end is where to go back to that citation and relate it to the arguments you have stated and represent; thus, completing the circle.

I will take one of my stories to elaborate on this. It was on being a stay-at-home-mom

Introduction: My hair is usually half brushed(the front half), tied up in a messy bun(no, not the one they teach you on Youtube and adorned by celebrities), I am the living ambassador of body hair being healthy for the human body(read- lack of visits to the parlor), and I don’t remember whether I had breakfast today.

Conclusion: My hair is still half-brushed and I can’t remember what(or whether) I had my lunch. But I am the boss of the house and happy being with my kid, who makes up for all that I could have achieved working 9–5 with her hugs and kisses.

Quote unquote

The best part of using a quote is the pause it brings when the mind is processing the thought. They are a great way to end a topic. Great quotes provoke good thoughts.

If I had to choose a quote for this very topic, I would choose something like:

A story isn’t really a story until it reaches its climax and conclusion.

Ted Naifeh, American comic writer

A conclusion is that part of the story which leaves the reader with something new to ponder. ( And on goes the part)

Things to keep in mind while choosing a quote:

  • Should be in synch with the perspective of the story. No matter how great, the chosen quote must match the frequency of the main story.
  • Should have a positive connotation.
  • Should not be too confusing.
  • Should not be too long. Short, crisp, and meaningful ones are the right pick.

Rechristening ‘conclusion’

‘In Conclusion’ is more like a school experiment type of nomenclature. Give a fresh twist to the name. Something in synch with the topic or a fresh take altogether. Something like;

General conclusions: And happily ever after, As the curtain falls, In a nutshell, Last but not the least, As we near the destination.

When your conclusion has reiteration of the main points: To rewind the tape, A quick brush-up, To make the long story short, To wrap it all up.

Squeeze your creativity and come up with some fresh ideas to say ‘goodbye’.

Use bullets

No, don’t make your readers read at gunpoint. Jokes apart, a conclusion is a place where you touch base on all that you have discussed in the body of the story. Pointers or bullet points of the main points make it segmented and thus easier for the readers to refresh everything quickly.

Sum it up

Sometimes, the body of the topic may be too long, in which case, a summing up becomes easy for the reader to have all the main points refreshed. A caution that needs to be exercised here is that the summing up needs to be very concise to avoid the conclusion becoming wearisome.

What to avoid in the conclusions/ a word of caution

Introduce new angle

A complete no-no. It is the space where you sum up all that has been said. A new concept or idea will throw the whole wagon off-track. It would leave the readers with unresolved thoughts, and take away all the momentum that your earlier points have made.

Too lengthy

It is time to wrap up everything beautifully and put the bow, open the box again to rearrange. A very lengthy conclusion will put off the reader. By the end of the story, the reader’s mind is expecting closure; not an opening night all over again.

Too short

An abruptly short conclusion will be leaving the reader wanting some more. It might also feel like slamming the door. A one or two-liner is not a great way to say goodbye to your reader. Might look as if one is in a hurry to finish the story. If the writer could not contain the impatience, expecting the same from the reader seems unfair.

Repetition

It is best to avoid exact sentences, already mentioned in the body of the story. You might want to summarize, true, but rephrase your words. Tell them, but in a fresh way with a twist.

Straight to the action

If you have a call to action, make it subtle. Don’t just throw it at your readers. Leaves a bad taste with the reader, makes them feel used. If at all you have to, make it gradual. Lead your reader to the action and be subtle about it.

As I rest my case

A conclusion is like that bread crumb that leads the reader to a thought, a new take, or clarity about what has been written. If the story is like a ballet, the conclusion is the opportunity to end on a high note that resonates with the reader after the show.

A good conclusion leaves the reader satiated, with food for thought.

We writers have racked our brains for the most wonderful introductions. It’s time we give the same treatments to our conclusions too and reclaim the lost opportunity.

The opportunity to give that one last blow and drive the story home.

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SYNERGY hosts articles about all aspects of writing, editing, blogging, and freelancing.

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Lipika

Lipika

Unapologetically me | Words on Parenting, Writing, Life, Self-development. Reach me at lipikasahu194@gmail.com. Check out freebies — https://lipika.gumroad.com

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