How to start the conclusion of your content
Start the conclusion by going back to the problem you solved for your readers.
It can be daunting to get to the end of your content and wrap everything up in a beautiful, shiny red bow. How do you start the conclusion? Is there a way, other than writing, “In conclusion?”
If you’ve written your content according to story structure, as outlined in The Anatomy of Story by John Truby, there is. You have to look back to move forward.
The answer lies in the first step of the story structure method, the problem. This step is where you, the writer, will have to refer back to and look for clues about how to move forward. The reader’s problem is what sets the whole piece of content in motion since it provided the basis for being written in the first place. The beginning of your conclusion will be to state how the problem has been solved.
After the battle
There are five steps to cover before getting to the conclusion:
- Problem/Need. What problem does the reader need to solve?
- Desire. What does the reader want?
- Opponent. What stands in the reader’s way?
- Plan. What information do you have for the reader?
- Battle. How does the reader get past the opponent?
Right before the beginning of your conclusion, you should have addressed how the reader gets through the battle. This step is where they have struggled to implement the plan you have suggested, and you have provided tips and strategies about ways to overcome obstacles.
The problem is what your reader, the hero of the story, needs solved. The conclusion begins with the revelation of what the reader has learned.
Cutting it short
It’s tempting to end the content after explaining the plan and describing the way the reader has overcome the opponent. This strategy is a mistake. It doesn’t explain how the reader can apply the lessons learned to their situation.
At the risk of getting too far into the weeds, now is a good time for an example:
Say I wrote a piece of content about gym equipment maintenance, let’s say a rowing machine in particular. It would be easy to talk about the plan for cleaning the rowing machine, piece by piece. If the “opponent” is finding time to clean, the battle would be setting a calendar reminder or a schedule, some way for the reader to implement the plan.
Ending the content here might make some sense, but there has never been a final payoff: what did the reader learn? Identifying the payoff is where the conclusion begins. In this case, they discovered that it doesn’t take much time at all to clean the rowing machine, that it sounds more daunting than it is.
Start the conclusion with what your reader learned.
What your reader learned is the revelation referred to in the story structure method.
It’s about closing loops. The battle is when the opponent loop is closed, and the revelation is when the problem is solved, closing the loop on the reader’s desire.
Some common revelations the reader can learn about themselves, following the battle:
- They have the time to get the project done.
- Their knowledge is enough to finish the task.
- Reimagining an ability they already possess can solve their current problem
When you start the conclusion, put some time and words into defining what the reader has learned. By making your reader the hero of the story, it becomes personal and much more likely to resonate.
It’s worth it in the end.
Reiterating what the reader learned positions you as a trusted guide in their journey. Not only do you provide a clear outline of the problem and what could stand in their way, but your plan and strategies for overcoming obstacles have also put you in the perfect spot to hammer home what your piece of content taught them.
Follow this method and readers will know you are a trusted resource. They will continue to look to you for answers for topics within your field.
There’s just one more step in the story structure process for copywriting: the new equilibrium. This article dealt with how to start the conclusion. Keep an eye out next week for an in-depth look at the final section, which deals with how to finish the content outright. Until then!