Your essay is almost done. You’ve written your thesis, got some great topic sentences, done the research, and made a beautiful argument. You’re on your last paragraph. The final hurrah. The last word. Au revoir, goodbye, see you later essay! Your fingers are poised on the keyboard, ready to finish their task...But wait. How does one write a conclusion?
I have met with many writers who are flustered when it comes to writing the last paragraph of an essay.Trust me, I understand the confusion. If you’ve already written an entire essay, exhausted all your points, and gone as in-depth as you can manage, what more can possibly go in the last paragraph? Often, writers let their conclusions hang at only a few sentences, almost like an afterthought. However, all writers should remember that the conclusion is important. If your introduction is your first impression, your conclusion is your final handshake.
Let me paint you a picture. You’re going to a birthday party. The birthday girl, (let’s call her Alice,) is your best friend, and you really want to impress her with a great gift. You do tons of research, figure out exactly what she wants, wrap it up in nice ribbons and bows, and arrive at the party. When you get to the party and say “Hello! Happy Birthday! Alice, you’re my best friend, and I wanted to give you this gift.”
She loves it (it’s a car).
You dance. You laugh. After a while, it’s time to leave the party. Instead of going up to Alice and telling her happy birthday, you give a cursory wave and leave. That’s it. Alice is hurt--don’t you even like her?
In this way, a short, curt conclusion can undo a great amount of work you’ve done in your essay.
If the party is your essay, the “Hello” is your introduction. The body of your essay is the present (in this case a car), along with all the research that went into making that present perfect. Your conclusion is your goodbye. So yes, it is just as important as the rest of the essay.
Instead of leaving with just a short wave, you would probably want to go up to Alice, smile, and give her a good farewell. You might say:
“Alice, Happy Birthday! I hope you liked your car. I gave it to you because I know you love cars, and you’re my best friend and the most coolest person in the world. Goodbye.”
Now there’s no doubt in Alice’s mind that you went out of your way to give her a great party. In this way, a thoughtful conclusion can make a good essay great, and leave the reader with a happy impression of your work.
Ok! Now that you know the importance of a conclusion, I’m going to give you three easy steps to writing one.
1. Rewrite your thesis.
a. This can be tough, because you don’t want to simply reiterate your thesis. It should feel like a wrapping-up of your arguments. I suggest writing your main idea in three different variations. Read them aloud to yourself, and decide which you like the best. (Tip: Don’t start with: “In conclusion,”)
b. If your thesis is: Alice likes cars, so I got her a car. You might rewrite it like:
i. As one can see, there is no doubt that Alice likes cars.
ii. Alice’s love of cars is evident in many parts of her life.
iii. Giving Alice a car was a good idea because she likes cars, and she also needs a car.
2. Look through your paragraphs and topic sentences. What are your main ideas in each paragraph? Write these as bullet points.
3. Next, write your bullet points into sentences that will follow your restated thesis. Make sure you are not repeating the exact sentences from your essay, but rather summarizing your main ideas/arguments in 2-3 sentences.
4. Conclude with one final insight. If you’re stuck, here are some questions to ask yourself.
a. Why is it important to learn about this topic?
b. Why should the reader care?
c. Why do you care?
d. Did you learn anything new?
Good work! And thanks for the car.
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