How to Write a Conclusion Paragraph
Like a perfect gymnast’s routine, a good essay all comes down to the dismount. You warm-up with an introduction. And in your body paragraphs you twist and turn — all while trying to keep a balanced argument. But if you really want to stick the landing, you’ll need a strong conclusion.
Putting together an essay is easy once you’ve learned the basics:
- You introduce the topic.
- Then you state your thesis.
- And then you support your thesis in the body paragraphs.
- And now you wrap things up in a conclusion paragraph.
But many writers stumble at that last step, because what’s the point of a conclusion if you’ve already said everything you have to say? You’ve already stated your thesis, and you’ve already supported your thesis. What more is there?
Back in high school, I was taught to just restate the introduction — and sometimes I would just copy it word for word! Needless to say, that was terrible advice and a great way to ruin a perfectly good essay. If you really want you essay to impress, you’ve got to stick that landing.
The purpose of a conclusion will differ depending on what kind of journey you want to take your reader throughout your essay, so below, I outline a few different approaches you might take:
Using the Toulmin Model to Write a Conclusion:
In another tutorial, I’ve discussed the Toulmin Model. The Toulmin Model works like this: When you’re setting up an argument, you want to you want to start with a claim:
Hamburgers are delicious.
But then you need to support that claim with evidence:
They’re delicious because they are the perfect balance of sweet buns, savory cheese, juicy burger, sweet tomato, and spicy mustard.
But now the warrant is what you use to show how the evidence supports the claim:
This balance of flavors makes for a fulfilling and satisfying meal.
The Toulmin model is agreat way to compose a paragraph, like above, but it also works as a way to structure your whole essay as well. The introduction is where you introduce your main claim or thesis statement, your body paragraphs are where you support the claim with evidence and your conclusion paragraph is your warrant.
The conclusion shouldn’t be a rewording of your introduction. Your conclusion paragraph should take all of those loose threads you introduced throughout the essay and tie them all together tidy, nice and neat.
Conclusions in Journalism:
One technique used in journalism is to switch between macro and micro. Journalists might start an article talking about a big picture topic like the decline in small town shops. But then throughout the body, they will discuss a particular situation like one local shopowner’s struggles. In the conclusion, they will then bring things back to big picture by showing how the shopowner’s personal experiences relate to wider trends in small town shops.
This approach does precisely what a conclusion is meant to do: It brings things back to the beginning while still moving forward. But it does so by building on itself rather that retreading old ground.
Conclusions in Storytelling:
A good screenwriter knows you can’t leave your readers hanging right after the big climactic struggle. You need bring things home and wrap up all those loose ends. So in a story where a boy leaves home to journey into the darkness of space, save a princess and blow up a giant space station, we want to know that at the end of the story, the boy returns to the safety of the Rebel Alliance as a hero. If the movie cut out right at the climax when he blew up the Death Star, then how would we know where our heroes ended up? We weren’t given any time to breathe or reflect.
When taking a storytelling approach, a conclusion gives the reader a moment to collect their thoughts and helps them reflect over all those great points you were making throughout your essay.
The purpose of a conclusion — whether you approach it using the Toulmin Model, the macro/micro approach, or a storytelling approach — is to bring the story back to the beginning while drawing from those experiences throughout the journey. You can unleash every impressive trick at your disposal throughout the essay, but to really impress your audience, you need to return to the mat with balance and composure.
Remember, you can do it!