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Write Endings That Don’t Merely Summarize

Dec 29, 2008

Writing Endings That Don't Merely Summarize

The sign of a strong ending or conclusion is not necessarily one that fits a 3-5 sentence recipe. We’ve all read great endings that were one sentence long and great endings that were five sentences long. We’ve all read wretched endings that were one sentence long and wretched endings that were five sentences long. A great ending has nothing to do with how long the ending is but rather how satisfied it leaves the reader.

Many teachers have students challenge students to write summary endings such as: Review the three main points outlined within the body of the writing. Here’s the problem with the summary ending—it’s so predictable! Everyone’s sounds the same. And more importantly, the piece isn’t usually long enough for the reader to have forgotten the main points anyway.

So what’s better than a simple summary ending? How about an ending where the writer concludes with a more insightful and big picture approach? To produce such an ending, the writer needs to turn away from the piece and answer questions like What do you want to leave the reader with? So what? So what’s the big deal? Who should care? So what’s your point?

The great thing about these endings is that they are more global. They get the students to step back from the writing and not just restate their ideas. Rather, they truly conclude. When having students write conclusions, partner them up and have them literally ask each other these questions. Have the writers answer them orally for their partners. And those are the words and ideas the writer should then use in his final concluding sentences.

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