In spite of working as a writing tutor, I always have a bit of an awkward time trying to explain my conclusion-writing advice, but the advice itself is pretty solid. Just bear with any awkwardness I’m about to spew out.
One trick that I tell students to use is to make the final sentence of their conclusions sound nice and complete by writing a sentence that lists three things or has three clauses (similar to the idea of the tricolon and the rule of three). A more basic example of this would be something like, “In following English Major Humor’s advice, Anonymous can hope to improve her conclusions, receive better grades, and come away from the writing process with a greater degree of satisfaction.” (However, if this were your thesis, you’ve already restated a paraphrased version of it at the beginning of your conclusion. Do not say it again at the end of your conclusion.) This isn’t necessarily something you should do for every paper; it’s just a cool trick to have in your back pocket in case it becomes useful.
Here’s some more general advice, adapted from my writing center’s handout on conclusions:
Conclusions can do the following:
-Summarize the arguments you’ve made
-Restate the thesis (but never word-for-word from how you wrote it in your introduction) and possibly expand upon this thesis.
-Explain why the argument presented is important/why the argument presented enhances our understanding of the topic.
-Add something new to the overall argument without adding another point of contention. This means that the conclusion can include new info, but not necessarily another point to be argued. (I presented the last two points in this section word-for-word from how they appeared on my writing center’s handouts.)
If you’re having trouble starting a conclusion:
-Restate your thesis by rewording it. Use that as a foundation and see where you go from there.
-Look at what you’ve already written in your essays and see what you haven’t said yet. Are there any loose ends you need to tie up?
Other things to remember:
-Your conclusion really doesn’t need to be long. You’re finishing the essay, not starting a new one.
-Your conclusion doesn’t need to be complex either. Your thesis/argument should be the complex parts.
-Think BIG PICTURE. Focus on your argument as a whole, not the finer points of your argument.
To me, a conclusion can be about the big picture in another way. For example, you might find something really interesting about Waiting for Godot and you can mention in your conclusion how this is/might be relevant to 20th century plays as a whole. Again, it’s thinking about why your argument is relevant/important. It’s basically about asking yourself that ever-annoying “so what?” question.
I highly recommend that you use this information to supplement a trip to your college’s writing center. Even if you think your writing is good (which it probably is), the writing center is still a great place to go to work on fine-tuning and to learn about new things (like how to write conclusions). There’s nothing wrong with going to the writing center no matter how good your writing is, and writing centers can help you at any stage of the writing process. Going is a truly great way to show yourself that you care about your writing.