Writing Mini-Lessons: Conclusions, Experiment with Essay Conclusions


“The end must connect with the opening. What has been promised must
have been delivered. Read the opening over to see what closing it implies.”

~ Donald Murray

You know the importance of a strong conclusion. A conclusion must resonate; it must leave the reader thinking, feeling, or both. When you write, experiment with multiple conclusions. Deliberately craft different endings. During revision, choose the conclusion that you believe works best.

Below are examples of many different strategies for ending strongly.

Some conclusions to try:

* Admonition or instruction: what the reader can do about the issue
If you are a teacher who has students who don’t like to read, give them access to good books and time to read and talk about them. Don’t assign books, and never give prizes for reading.

* Prediction: an insight into how the future might be different, better, or worse
Girls today can help achieve these important goals by taking a positive attitude toward their body image and being in control of their bodies, taking on leadership roles in the classroom and beyond, becoming active in the fight against sexism by objecting when they hear or are the subjects of sexist remarks or behavior, and setting higher education and career goals. Most importantly, girls can promote feminism by being who they want to be, not who the culture tells them they must be. Feminism is a philosophy that’s not extreme, but fair. I hope that by opening a dialogue with my peers I can broaden their ways of thinking about the other half of the human race.

* Strong, punched statement: perhaps a one-sentence paragraph
And, finally, insist on and tell the truth about cigarettes: what they do to your body and your life, and how addictive smoking is.

* Anecdote: a brief story that reiterates the essence of the issue or situation
So remember: if your kid comes home with a banned classic like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Lord of the Flies, consider yourself lucky that your child got to read at least one great novel before someone decides that he or she should be denied the right to read.

* Pointed question: leaves the reader thinking
There aren’t many ways to make going to Cinema West cheaper, but to cut the cost, moviegoers can stick to matinees and resist buying anything to eat or drink. Waiting for a film to be released on video and renting videos are also cheaper. If everyone started taking small steps like these, monopolies like Cinema West would start losing their power and begin to rethink their prices. And maybe families could enjoy a Saturday night
together at the movies. Wouldn’t that be a welcome change?

* Echo: circles back to the engaging beginning/lead
Bottom line, beef is not as bad as some people claim. Eaten smartly, it’s actually good for you. So go grocery shopping with confidence, buy and eat that lean steak, and be healthier for it. (The first two sentences are in the essay’s beginning.)

A Conclusion to Avoid:

“Only rarely in effective writing is the closing a formal summary
in which the writer repeats (exactly). . . what has already been said.”

~ Donald Murray