As difficult as it is to begin a personal narrative essay, wrapping it up can be even more challenging. Writers often fall into the trap of tying the narrative up too neatly, telling the readers what they are supposed to take away from their story instead of letting the reader come to their own conclusions. Study a few essays from some of the great writers and notice how they conclude their stories. Often the ending to their narratives is left ambiguous; the reader isn’t exactly sure how everything will turn out; however, the reader should be left with a sense of closure.
Below are some strategies you might use to come to a satisfying conclusion in your own stories. All are final lines from some popular essays.
End with an Image
When nature essayist Scott Russell Sanders was in Omaha to talk to writing students, he said one of the most common problems for beginning writers when crafting a narrative essay is conclusions. He said his advice is always the same: if in doubt, end on an image. It’s foolproof. Showing an image prevents you from telling your feelings. In the essay “Buckeye,” Scott Russell Sanders uses the image of a grazing deer to conclude his narrative:
. . . within a few paces of a grazing deer, close enough to see the delicate lips, the twitching nostrils, the glossy, fathomless eyes.
This lyrical conclusion comes from “Bathing,” as writer Kathryn Winograd shows the last moments of her bath:
The wind sings through the window like a siren, and the steam floats from my skin like milk.
End with Action
Show yourself in action. Move. Do something, anything, to avoid telling the reader how happy, or sad, or hopeful you are in the end. Look at something, and walk away, as Edward Hoagland does in “The Courage of Turtles”:
But since, short of diving in after him, there was nothing I could do, I walked away.
Or look at something, and become mesmerized. A chapter from the classic memoir, Stop Time by Frank Conroy, “Yo-Yo Going Down, a Mad Squirrel Coming Up,” shows a young Conroy as he watches a girl through a window:
That same night, hidden in the greenery under the window, I watched a naked girl let down her long red hair.
End with Dialogue
Dialogue can be tricky to conclude with, but can work if it avoids a message or moral. You’ll only want to use this concluding technique if it has been maintained in the narrative; you probably don’t want to throw in spoken word if we haven’t heard anyone speak up until that point.
David Sedaris, in his essay, “Cyclops,” ends with the voice of his father, who is the main character in this essay:
“I don’t know where you got it from, but in the end, it’s going to kill you.”
The following brief reply, taken from Jo Ann Beard’s “The Fourth State of Matter,” shows an image, followed by unquoted dialogue. Beard uses italics instead:
Around my neck is the stone he brought me from Poland. I hold it out. Like this? I ask. Shards of fly wings, suspended in amber.
Exactly, he says.
Another example below comes again from Scott Russell Sanders, this from “Cloud Crossing,” as his toddler son babbles:
“Moon,” he is piping from the back seat, “moon, moon!”
End with Reflection
When used well, reflection is a great way to convey feelings without telling the reader how you felt – or how they should feel. Reflection offers the writer’s thoughts about what is happening or has happened. Reflection can include thoughts about the moment or thoughts looking back, about the experience. Reflection can add clarity, as we see the writer thinking through the experience. This concluding moment is from James Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son”:
. . . I wished that he had been beside me so that I could have searched his face for the answers which only the future would give me now.
Bret Lott, in his short essay, “Brothers,” reflects on childhood memories of his family, taking him into the present with his own two sons:
What I believe is this: That pinch was entry into our childhood; my arm around him, our smiling, is the proof of us two surfacing, alive but not unscathed.
And here are my own two boys, already embarked.
When writing your own conclusion, think about what you want your readers to take away from your story. Then think about how best you can show it. Ending with reflection may work great for one story, but not another. Concluding with dialogue may sound forced. You seldom can go wrong with images. Think about what feeling, emotion, or question you want to leave your readers with, the take-away, then pick the type of conclusion that best suits the piece. If you’ve done your job showing the event or experience throughout the narrative, the conclusion will come naturally.
Published by E. Mack
Writing Center Underground is supported by Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska and maintained by Elizabeth Mack, Writing Center consultant. The Writing Center, staffed by experienced English teachers and writing consultants, provides professional assistance and outreach programs to help students and faculty with written communication across the disciplines and beyond. Simply stated, the Writing Center is a place into which writers invite other writers to dialogue about writing. View all posts by E. Mack
A reaction or so-called response paper is a type of research paper which includes reading and analyzing of the text or any other piece of information or media content, then writing all your thoughts and feelings about it. Generally, it is a reaction to a text, but also it can be a response to a controversial question, comprising of two related texts, an interview of a famous entrepreneur or just your impressions of a movie.The one should not forget to provide reliable data and appropriate references to justify their arguments and ideas.The following tips can help with essay.
How to Write a Good Reaction Paper
- The first step includes extensive reading and critical thinking. Analyze everything you read in order to support your ideas in writing. Try to look on things from another perspective and think out of the box.
- It is important to provide justification to your statements as you are to not just summarize the text, but write your own thoughts on the author’s message.
- Collect all the information, question it and start making evaluative judgments. For instance, you can write out the quotation that may be useful for you.
The topic of your work
- Stick to the orders that your teacher has given you.
- You can be required to provide your thought on almost any perspective of the text. For instance, the instructor can ask you to evaluate or analyze the text, compare characters of the story, give your opinion on different events and decisions of the characters or unveil an idea of the text.
- Do not be afraid to ask question about the task if you do not understand what the instructor wants to see in the paper.
- The first time you read you only get acquainted with the plot, main characters and the setting of the novel. And only then, after subsequent reading you start thinking about the task and form your own opinion about the text.
- Consequently, it is important to read over and over again provided piece of information in order to have time to think about it and consider ideas. The more times you reread the text, more new information and justification you will find useful for your work.
Writing down your ideas
- After a chain of subsequent reading, list down your feelings and thoughts about it, form key points of your assignment using such phrases as I believe…, I thought…, In my opinion…, I suppose… don’t forget to utilize transitions in your essay!
- At the first stage, you can simply comment on various quotations you have written out during reading.
- Ask yourself question about the text you are analyzing: What is the author message? How does the author convey their thematic message? What problems does the author try to draw the reader’s attention to? What does the author tell us about the maim characters? What ways do they use to show weak and strong sides of the main heroes?
Developing your thesis/Ñlaim
- Thesis is used to demonstrate the importance of your ideas.
- Make the thesis and be brief, so anyone who reads your work will be able to understand the content and the problem of your research.
- Do not forget that your thesis reflects what you are going to analyze and evaluate thus be sure that you have enough evidence and justification to support your argument.
Determining the scope and the structure of your paper
- Reaction paper has the same basic format as any other type of work: introduction paragraph, several body paragraphs and conclusion paragraph.
- Reread your notes with evaluations and comments on the author’s thematic message and choose ideas which you like the most. Gather them into topics which you will turn into the paragraphs.
- Every paragraph starts with a reaction or a quotation. Comment on the author’s ideas, contrast them with your own ideas, and then provide evidence to justify your arguments.
Write the main parts of the paper.
- Introduction includes the name of the text, the author’s name and the thesis. Make sure that you have all these statements in your first paragraph.
- In the body paragraphs state your opinion, discuss the key points of your research, and provide evaluative judgments of the text. Include your own opinion to justify the thesis of the paper.
- Conclusion is a way to sum up your ideas and your last chance to make a good impression. Consequently, it is important to return to the thesis in the introduction (do not paraphrase it, try to come up with the solution) or provide a question for further thinking.
- As a final step, you should proofread your work in order to correct all grammatical and spelling mistakes and punctuation errors. Remove any unnecessary words.
- Make sure that your paper includes cohesive reaction and is written due to the teacher’s instructions.
- Find a person that will become your essay rater or essay editor to provide a double check before the submission.
How to Write Essay about Traveling
Developing the topic of your essay
- This basic step is the most important as it directs your further research. First of all, you should gather all the facts you know about traveling and analyze your own experience.
- Essay about traveling can be practically about anything: rules that should be remembered during the trip, the unforgettable experience, your own ideas and dreams, the ways of traveling and so on.
- Make sure that you can support the chosen essay topic with the facts from your life and reliable statistical data, otherwise it may affect your grade and the general power of your ideas.
Structure your essay
Divide your paper into the following parts:
- Introduction should include a thesis statement that reflects the main idea of your essay. For instance, if you choose to write about hitchhiking, you can use the following thesis, “Although hitchhiking is considered to be the cheapest and the most popular way of traveling among the young people, the one should remember that the danger of hitchhiking has recently increased”.
- Unveil your strongest ideas in the body paragraphs and support it with evidence. Try to find the solution to the problem of your essay and provide your own opinion about it.
- As the last part of your essay, the conclusion should include your final statement and the question for further discussion.
- Develop captivating title to draw reader’s attention. Your title should persuade people to read your work till the end. Use no more than 8 words in your title.
- Do not forget to proofread your paper and check it on spelling and grammatical errors. Avoid punctuation mistakes and repetitive words.
- Analyze your language. Do not use contractions or low-flown vocabulary.
- Make sure that your paragraphs unveil the main idea of the essay stated in the thesis.
Travel Essay Sample
The Benefits of Traveling
Traveling is one of the most popular activities and is a great way to spend free time or vacation. In addition, it helps to clear mind after the months of hard work and opens a new view on things. So, is it just a way to relax or something more? Can people benefit from traveling?
All around the world people gather together and travel to other countries in order to learn something new and have a nice rest. However, during the trip a brave adventurer can face various obstacles and is supposed to deal with them, find the solution. That is how people gain priceless experience which they cannot learn from books. Travelers can see themselves from the other sides and learn how to cope with difficult unexpected situations. For instance, looking for a railroad station without a map or any knowledge of language can be very demanding task for the tourist and requires special abilities. Moreover, it is a great chance to meet new people and develop your communicative skills.
As a matter of fact, traveling can change the worldview of a person and the regular way of thinking. People get up from a couch, step out of comfort zone and pack their stuff in order to explore other countries and new cultures. Naturally, it can be hugely stressful to a person, nevertheless, it is a great opportunity to change life for good. While traveling, it is important to visit national museums and galleries as it will help to understand the mentality of the country and start seeing things from another perspective. Cultural exchange is an essential part of traveling that helps to develop personality and create new unforgettable memories.
To sum up, traveling is not just an entertainment or a way to relax, but a great chance to open your world to the new possibilities and gain immeasurable experience.
Best Travel Essay Topics List for 2017
If you consider travel essay writing, these topics will be useful for you:
- Pros and cons of couchsurfing: meet and stay with locals from every part of the world.
- What does traveling influence person?
- If you were going to stay on an island and could take a few items with you, what would it be and why?
- What was the best traveling experience for you and why?
- What are the rules you should remember about when you are going on a trip?
- If you could travel back in time which century would you choose and which places of interest would you visit and why?
- Describe the worst vacation you have ever had. What actions would you take to prevent this from happening again?
- If you had a chance to travel anywhere you want, which place would you choose and why?
- The importance of traveling with your friends.
- The benefits of traveling alone.
- Describe the time when you traveled alone. What obstacles did you face? Did you learn something new about yourself?
- Tips for safe hitchhiking.
- My first experience of hitchhiking.
- What you should know about hitchhiking in my country.
- Have you ever considered working as a guide? Which city would you choose to work?
- Name advantages and disadvantages of the profession of a guide.
- Which way of traveling do you consider the most comfortable and why?
- The benefits of traveling by car.
- Name pros and cons of traveling by air.
- The advantages and disadvantages of traveling by sea.
- My first trip by train. The benefits of traveling by train.
- Write tips for a person who wants to visit your hometown.
- Compare reading books and traveling. Which way is more reliable to learn about the world?
- What can you learn about different cuisines while traveling?
- Have you ever dreamt about space travel? What would it be like?