You need a great beginning in order to grab your readers' attention, but if you don't end just as powerfully, your reader could walk away with a bad taste in her mouth, your content forgotten.

You can take a so-so piece of writing and make it powerful with a good conclusion. If you start with a great piece and don't conclude it well, it's not a great piece overall. In another article, I demonstrated several different models to begin your writing, whether fiction or nonfiction. Now I'm going to do the same with endings.

Think of the introduction and conclusion as two bookends. They both need to be consistent, to match. Your conclusion has to answer to the introduction and the tone that's been set there. Once you've set the tone for your piece, you have to follow that through to the end. If your conclusion has a surprise twist, that doesn't break the tone, but you can't switch from a conversational tone in the beginning to a formal tone in the conclusion.

As a writing coach and trainer, reader, and writer myself, the biggest problem I see writers have is with endings. Whether fiction or nonfiction, there's this place writers get to where they go, "Uh, how do I wrap this up?"

John Grisham, best-selling fiction author, has trouble ending his novels. He's amazing at creating tension and plot structure, but he just can't figure out how to coast into the end. It's as if he gets to the last chapter, doesn't know what to do, and says, "Okay! We're done!" And there's either a non-believable ending or an abrupt change in pace, which puts the reader off center.

While you can introduce a piece in any way, the conclusion can't be as haphazard. It has to answer to the introduction and the tone you've set there. The conclusion should be a natural continuation of the rest of the piece. A sales page has a call to action at the end. A novel wraps up the plot line.

Here are some models of how to end a piece of writing along with some examples. Use this list as a resource any time you have to conclude a writing project, be it a sales page or a short story. (All examples are taken from real-life nonfiction articles or books. Please note that some of these examples may not have their full impact since you haven't read the entire piece.)

1) Circular ending - come back to the beginning

In the article on Powerful Beginnings, one of the models, using a question, began this way: "Our furniture? Made in China. Our cookware? Made in China. Our knickknacks? Made in China. Is there anything left that is still homemade?"

Example: That article ended with "With their emphasis on intelligent design and quality construction, they make a convincing case that the label MADE IN THE U.S.A. is more meaningful than ever." ("Modern Americana" by Tim McKeogh, Fast Company, October 2011).

2) Dialogue

Example: "Johnston, who describes most hackathons she's been to as 'macho-endurance challenges,' agrees. 'There's been no ego here,' she says. 'Is that because as women we've struggled to get by in a male-dominated tech world, or because everyone here is just really cool?'
She pauses. 'I don't know, but it seems to be working.'" ("Ladies Who Hack" by Jed Lipinski, Fast Company, October 2011.)

3) Chronological conclusion

This example continues the story model from the article on beginnings.

Example: "For the 2007 AllHipHop Week, they planned more carefully and gave contractors firm budgets. They signed a sponsorship deal with American Airlines, which saved them tens of thousands of dollars in travel expenses. And they pulled off the event for $200,000--$100,000 less than in 2006. The week had an appropriate theme: rebirth." ("Case Study: Anatomy of a Business Decision" by Kermit Pattison, Inc., February 2008)

4) Solution

This example continues the Metaphor model from the article on beginnings.

Example: "Thankfully, the mechanics of it are simple. All you have to do is talk. Just not too much." ("What's the Secret to Better Brainstormin?" by Ross McCammon, Entrepreneur, October 2011.

5) Thought/belief

Example: "I hope I don't define myself by what I own, and I hope I don't judge others based on what they own. Finally, our stuff can meet our needs rather than the other way around." ("Mental Tools to Clear Clutter" by Barbara Tako, Mind Body Spirit, Summer 2012.)

6) Feeling/memory

Example: "I hope to have shared with the reader what I myself enjoy and treasure." ("The Essential Message of the Qur'An" by Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri, Mind Body Spirit, Summer 2012.)

7) Quotation

This article also begins with a quotation, "'The aim of art is not to represent the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.' ~ Aristotle, Greek Philosopher, 384-322 BC" - thus circling back around to the beginning as well as using the same method to begin and end this piece.

Example: "'To say the word Romanticism is to say modern art - that intimacy, spirituality, colour, aspiration toward the infinite, expressed by every means available to the arts.' ~ Charles Baudelaire, French poet (1821-1867)" ("Alchemical Art" By Karen L. French, Mind Body Spirit, Summer 2012.)

8) Twist

This one is hard to give an example in a short article. Think of some of the great movies with a big twist at the end: Psycho, Vertigo, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Friday the 13th, Jacob's Ladder, Twelve Monkeys, The Usual Suspects, The Sixth Sense, The Crying Game, The Others.

A strong beginning and a strong ending are crucial to powerful writing. If you can't engage the reader in the beginning and can't leave the reader with a solid impact at the end, it doesn't really matter what your content is.

Try playing around with some of these models. It will strengthen your writing muscles to vary your writing and to see what comes out of it.

Author's Bio: 

Dawn Shuler, Content Creator Extraordinaire, helps entrepreneurs and authors convey their deep message into compelling words, whether it's marketing material or a book, as well as to create powerful content to increase their credibility, visibility, and profitability. Her soul purpose is to help entrepreneurs unleash their authentic selves into their businesses through their content. She created the Writing From Your Soul system to help business owners connect more powerfully, reach more people, and make a difference. Download the free, 13-step system at