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Difference Between Writing an Introduction & Conclusion

by Michael Stratford, studioD

In most essays, your introduction is a paragraph whose last sentence is your thesis; your conclusion reworks or rewords that thesis in light of the essay's information. Writing an essay has been compared to building a house; the introduction is the foundation, the conclusion the finishing rooftop that houses the whole.

Let Me Introduce You

Both introductions and conclusions are brief; you can accomplish them in three sentences each. Writing the introduction means arranging your three sentences so they bring a focus to your thesis. The first sentence is generalized, but sticks to topic: "No one can judge the heart by the face, at least not in Shakespeare." The second specifies the work: "In his play 'Othello,' many characters are not what they seem to be." You're now sufficiently focused to deliver the thesis: "Othello and Iago reflect appearance v. reality, both physically and morally."

Openings Aren't Canned

Your introduction doesn't have to be formulaic; the structure allows for any number of different opening hooks or gambits. You can begin your first sentence with a quote -- "'Why did I marry?' cries Shakespeare's Othello" -- a startling statistic -- "There are more than 11,000 women assaulted in England annually, not counting Shakespeare's Desdemona" -- a question -- "Can you really tell a lover's thoughts from his expression?" -- or an imaginary moment of shock or surprise -- "Your newlywed husband just slapped you; you don't know why, any more than Othello's battered bride does."

Never Conclude with "In Conclusion"

Speech writers tell you never to say "in conclusion," either in speaking or writing; your audience tunes out. With that in mind, your conclusion can be much easier than you imagined: simply take your three sentence introduction and reverse it, from thesis to generalization. The most important point here is to rethink it entirely in light of the information from your essay; it will, if you've given a solid argument and sufficient proofs, rewrite easily into a conclusion based on what you previously created.

Time to Roof

Your conclusion doesn't need a hook; you already grabbed your readers. It also never needs a summary, the dullest way to conclude something. A final thought, a revelation that occurred to you as you wrote, a repeated simile or an answer to the question the introduction posed are ideal. These are potential rooftops covering your house essay, where you and your ideas can now live quite comfortably. You just read a repeated simile conclusion.

About the Author

Michael Stratford is a National Board-certified and Single Subject Credentialed teacher with a Master of Science in educational rehabilitation (University of Montana, 1995). He has taught English at the 6-12 level for more than 20 years. He has written extensively in literary criticism, student writing syllabi and numerous classroom educational paradigms.

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