A few days ago I offered advice about beginnings (the first part of a sentence, paragraph, essay, report, or research paper). Today we’re going to focus on endings, and I’m going to show you two strategies that pros use to add polish to their writing. (You’ll be surprised how easy these strategies are – and how well they work!)
Here are two words you need to know to end sentences, paragraphs, and writing tasks effectively: climax and closure. And here are some tips for using climax and closure in writing:
1. If you’re listing several things in a sentence, save the best for last.
We offered our guests fresh fruit, imported cheese, and homemade chocolate ice cream. [Climax]
2. When you’re writing a paragraph, save the best example for last – or end with a closure sentence that wraps up your paragraph and gives it a completed feel (like a bow on a package). Or do both!
I still remember my excitement as the guests arrived for my birthday party. Friends from my third-grade class came in party dresses with fancy sashes and velvet collars. Aunt Jane and Uncle Stan brought the birthday cake, an amazing confection with a fancy little doll on top. Best of all was Grandma, full of hugs and kisses for the birthday girl. [Climax] I felt like a movie star. [Closure]
Never use finally, last, in conclusion, or last but not least. These expressions tell your reader that nothing new and important is coming. (Last but not least is especially insidious: How would you like to be introduced at a meeting as “not the least of our staff”?) Save your most important supporting idea or example for last, and use a transition that signals its importance: Best of all, most of all, worst of all, most important.
When you come to the end of your paper, restate your main point and finish without raising any new issues. A good concluding strategy is to make some connection between your main point and the future. For example, an essay about a childhood birthday party could end like this:
Although I’m grown-up now, I still feel a little of the same magic every year when my birthday rolls around again. [Restated main point]
Notice that you should restate your main point. This will be the second time you’ve presented your thesis.
NEVER wait until the end of a writing task to make your main point. Your thesis belongs near the beginning so that readers are clear about what you’re saying and where you’re taking them.
Thinking about endings (and beginnings, as I suggested earlier) makes your writing more polished and professional. As a writing teacher, I was always impressed when my students produced well-crafted sentences and paragraphs.
Want to learn more? Watch a short (and free) presentation about climax and closure by clicking here: Write Like a Pro