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Happy Endings

July 2nd, 2021

Something we always stress to non-fiction writers is the need for a good opening paragraph if they are to grab the editor/reader’s attention.

But what about the closing paragraph? It may not have an immediate impact on the success or failure of your article/feature, but every piece of writing needs a conclusion. Without one, the reader will be left hanging. After you’ve included all the information you want your article to contain, you should round off your piece in a satisfying way. As with the style, language, length etc this needs to be appropriate for your market. So, check if there are any trends that you can spot.

The Summary:  Some articles end by summarising the main points of the article. If you follow these ten easy steps, you too could be in a smaller dress size for summer.

The Question:  Ending with a question can leave the reader pondering. If the article has tackled a controversial subject, ending with the sentence What do you think? Gives the reader an opportunity to consider the arguments you’ve made in your article and then come to a decision about their perspective on the matter. Asking a question might also encourage readers to write in to the letters page, offering their views.

The Quote:  If you’ve interviewed people for your article, sometimes it can be effective to give them the last word. You might find that a sentence or phrase they’ve used sums up your article well. Simply finish the article with those wise words.

Go Back To The Start:  A popular way to end an article is to mention something you referred to in your opening sentence. By taking your reader back to the start, you’re making your article a circular journey. For example, if you started an article on earth tremors in the UK with On average, an earthquake hits Britain every two days… the concluding sentence could be: So, whilst we’re due another earthquake within the next 48 hours, the chances are you probably won’t notice it. The reference to 48 hours takes the reader back to the fact in the opening sentence, but it also reassures them that it’s nothing to worry about.

For some articles you’ll need a paragraph to draw your piece to a natural conclusion, whilst for others a short sentence might be all that’s needed. If you begin your article with a surprising fact, ending with another one can work well. Alternatively, if the article has looked back at past events, a concluding paragraph looking to the future can leave the reader satisfied and with hope. It might be helpful to think about how you could bring your article to a conclusion whilst you’re considering your opening paragraph. But whatever you do, don’t waffle!

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