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April 3, 2015

Improve Your Writing Skills, Part II

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

Not only should you know how to start a well-written document (covered Wednesday), it also helps to know how to wrap one up. And I’m referring to more effort than just typing LOL or adding a smiley.

Once a composer was asked why his symphonies end with such force. His response was, “I need to show the audience when to clap.”

I’m making up that quote, but it seems appropriate. Too often writers go cruising along, crafting an elegant expression of ideas using just the proper number of words. And when it’s all done, they have to end on a cymbal crash or with three blasts of the horn section. “Yes! I’m done here,” they exclaim, believing the reader needs to know when to stop.

Of course, all you really need is a period. That blank spot below the last line is a good visual clue. One of the worst tails on an article is a question:

Now I ask you, is that fair?

Even worse is to ask and answer the question:

Now I ask you, is that fair? Of course not!

If you’re written the article well though, the reader doesn’t need the question or the answer. Still, you need a proper ending. In fact, as a helper, consider writing the last paragraph by starting out, “In conclusion,” and then delete those two words and the comma.

Try to avoid mentioning anything new in your wrap-up paragraph. For example, if you inadvertently introduce another topic, it may require further explanation. The two topics reduce the document’s focus and confuse the reader.

Rather than look for the cymbal crash, just peek back at the document title or the first paragraph: Restate what you’ve written. That not only reinforces the topic, but it may give you a clean-up clue and a nifty way to tie the entire thing together. LOL.

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