By: Marilyn L. Davis
“Ending a novel is almost like putting a child to sleep – it can’t be done abruptly.” ~Colm Toibin, Novelist – Portrait of the Artist, The Guardian, 19, February 2013
Why Have a Specific Conclusion?
- Primacy demonstrates that some people remember the first few items from the list – like a title.
- Recency refers to people recalling information given last from the list – or the content.
Our memory has three basic functions: encoding, storing, and retrieving information.
- Encoding is the act of getting information into our memory system.
- Storage is retention of the information
- Retrieval gets the information into conscious awareness.
An excellent way to get information into your reader’s memory is through a good conclusion, which provides your readers with a different type of summary or synopsis of the content – helping them remember the content and you as the writer.
Conclusions Reinforce Your Topic
Putting more emphasis on your conclusions can reinforce summaries, introductions, and content.
How we end our articles is just as crucial to the reading experience as any other component in an excellent article. Many writers spend an excessive amount of time creating catchy titles, as this is the first opportunity to attract the reader.
While they write quality content, provide helpful back links, or add other value to their article, many fall short by not giving the same attention to detail in their conclusions.
No More Words – Must Be Done
Too often, writers simply quit writing, and that concludes their article. Unfortunately, there was no room for the reader to remember the post with this approach. Just as we attempt to create a summary that captures the essence of our topic for search purposes, good conclusions cycles back to the title and content for the reader.
A well-thought conclusion helps the reader understand that for this article, the writer finished with their post. I know that sounds obvious; if there are no more words, then the writer is finished.
Without a well-written conclusion, it is rather like a phone conversation without the customary, “Goodbye.” How many of you have wondered if you got dropped because the caller just hung up?
Rather than remember the conversation, people are left wondering if there is something wrong; they can feel short-changed or decide that you were rude. These feelings also happen without a good conclusion, and you are not courteous to your readers.
Qualities of a Good Conclusion
Strong conclusions sum up the article without being repetitious. Do not merely repeat what you previously said. For better conclusions, consider:
1. Your final thoughts about your piece: Ask yourself, “So what?”
This simple question can stimulate your thinking to see if you have left anything out of the body, or it can help you frame your conclusion.
Without writing it, ask yourself, “In conclusion, I want you to know”, and then elaborate on the key points.
2. Give readers a suggestion as a direct statement or question them on the topic.
I could suggest that writers spend more time on their conclusions, or ask writers if they understand why conclusions are just as important as title and summary.
3. Relate your conclusion to your title or summary to complete the impression.
I can accomplish this with a question to the reader. I might even ask them if the introductory information or the conclusion helped them remember the intent of the content.
4. Use a quote about the subject, however, frame it correctly.
However, the quote from Colm Tóibín resonated with me while researching the article. A simple way around helping the readers and leaving them focused on someone else is to include a quote that starts your post, as I’ve done or within the content, and then reference the quote in conclusion.
Reference the author of the quote and how this quote exemplifies your article subject and expand on the quote in your words to conclude the article.
5. Provide a solution.
If you are writing about a problem, define it, analyze it, and then provide a solution in your conclusion. You can also restate the problem, without details, and wrap up your post with a more in-depth solution.
6. Give readers a warning about why they need to know this information.
Current events, social unrest, changes in social media, or conclusions would all benefit from a warning to the reader. Let them know why not paying attention to the subject is detrimental to them. Putting readers on notice is an excellent way to have them remember the article.
7. Conclude with a call to action
Conclusions can engage readers by challenging them to interact with you as a writer. In online writing, there is usually an opportunity to comment. Take this opportunity to engage with the reader.
At Two Drops of Ink, we are always looking for guest contributors, so I would reference this opportunity at the conclusion of a post. I can ask other writers to give us their opinions on any topic I’m writing about, and satisfy the call to action.
Last Chance to Impress your Readers
If I have done a good job with this article, the impression I am leaving is that conclusions add value to the reading experience and that readers are more satisfied with a specific end.
I intended to highlight the importance of conclusions. But whether I had good intentions or not, you’re the reader. So, I’ll ask you:
- Have I listed a way for you to make your conclusions more interesting?
- Did I give you valid reasons for valuing the opportunities in conclusions?
- Will this post make you more aware of your conclusions?
- Have I fulfilled my promise in my title?
I would ask that you let me know; after all; this conclusion might be lacking your additional insight; there may be more to add with your comments. Until I get your feedback and process them, I will just end this with a courteous, “Goodbye, hope we connect later.”
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