Your story or article’s conclusion wraps it up like packaging around your parcel, ready to be sent.
What does this mean?
I’m sure most people have wrapped up an item to post to a friend at some stage in their life.
Although emails have, for some decades, overtaken ‘snail mail’ as the way to write and share letters, parcels don’t go through your laptop outbox yet. They need to be wrapped appropriately and addressed so they can be posted and this is the parallel I’m using to explain why and how to create appalling endings for whatever you write.
How can we view this analogy for writing wrap-ups?
- Packaging needs to keep the contents skillfully contained so that they won’t get lost in transition. Your last sentences of an email (or perhaps a chapter of a novel) must also give a comforting conclusion for the plot. None of the personas should be left partly hanging out of the packaging, leaving your reader questioning ‘what happened to… ?”
- It needs to be appropriately addressed to the designated recipient – i.e., your reader. Your reader has come with you to the tip of your tale or novel (unless she was taking a random sneaky peek at the last pages!) and warrants satisfaction by a proper conclusion. Your reader should feel that you understand what she wants to find out, and you appreciate her judgment about the outcome. (even if the result is different)
- It needs to be proficient. It’s no good if the packaging unwinds in transit. What do I mean? A theme is sometimes called a ‘takeaway’ – and it’s what your reader takes away from your tale. Even if your reader is not aware of your expected takeaway through your story, the conclusion needs to leave them with the excitement inherent in your theme. Did you want to inspire, encourage, challenge, educate? Each of these (including education) has sentiments connected with it. I believe the end of any narrative should leave the person feeling this emotion.
- It should have a return location in case it goes lost in the post. How do I apply this parallel to writing? Readers will return for more novels or other items written by an author they appreciate.
The editorial style will command your conclusion. Newspapers, for instance, are more involved in a strong introduction, because that will grab the reader’s eyes. Everything that needs to be said should be done early in the article, because the ending may be deleted if there’s not enough space for the complete article. That doesn’t mean the conclusion should be weak, but it’s not as crucial as the opening.
A short story will often depend on a shock ending for its appeal, so the conclusion needs to be terrific. A novel may or may not have a blow ending, and its climax may come to some pages before the finish, which is really to wrap up loose ends and leave the reader satisfied about what happens to all the characters.
Summarising Other Tips for Writing a Powerful Conclusion:
- Quick, punchy sentences are best.
- This isn’t the place to add more data.
- If you are completing a novel or a short story with a twist (a shock ending), put it as close to the last sentence as possible.
- The pace and genre of your story will influence the ending. A story that has walked along at a gentle rhythm will end more slowly than a speedy action thriller.
- Your readers will want to know what happens to each of your central characters.
- If you want to write a sequel, some clue about the central character’s futures can be a tool to get readers coming back for more.
Package your writing strongly, and it will help to reach the desired address: your readers.