Writers, go back to the beginning
Sometimes you need to go back to the beginning to find the end. That’s my takeaway from the following quote, from David L. Carroll’s A Manual of Writer’s Tricks.
When you’re stuck for an ending, go back to your beginning. When stymied for a way to end your piece, go back to the first line, the first paragraph, the first page, the first chapter, and reread it several times. Since opposites tend to meet in some mysterious way, you will often discover that the ending is somehow logically implied in the beginning and that your very first ideas somehow also contain a logical conclusion.
Use in short documents, too
While Carroll may have been offering advice for book-length manuscripts, I believe his advice applies to documents as short as a blog post, or even an email. In short, you set expectations in the opening of your document. By the end you should have satisfied that expectation.
You probably want to push your reader to think or act in a certain way. That’s often a good place to end your piece of business writing.
I’m not a big fan of endings that go under the heading of “Conclusion.” You can write a conclusion, but please don’t waste room in your article by calling it that.
At the end of a document, you may need to push your readers to take a step. That step could be something they do on their own. Or, perhaps you conclude with a call to action that has readers contact you.
At any rate, look at how you start your piece, and then look at your ending. Do the beginning and the end seem to belong to the same piece? Then, you’re on the right track.
Thank you, Andy!
By the way, I’d like to thank Andy, one of my newsletter subscribers, who forwarded to me this issue of Mark Frauenfelder’s Book Freak newsletter with this quote.
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