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What Is a Clincher at the End of Your Essay?


Essays end with a clincher, a final sentence that may reinforce an overall argument or leave the reader with an intriguing thought, question or quotation. The idea is to "clinch" or seize the reader's attention until the very end, finishing a piece of writing in a way that feels complete. It should not be merely a summary or introduce topics or ideas not covered in the paper.

Function

An effective clincher is memorable and smooth, addressing the needs of the reader at the end of the essay. For example, it is helpful for the reader to end an essay about a complex topic in a clear, straightforward way. It should not be a restatement of exact words. Readers will notice if an essay says the same thing twice; however, the clincher should flow out of the already-written word. An effective clincher might be a quotation, as long as the quote adds value to the discussion.

Techniques

Effective clinchers refer to the introduction to create a complete thought. This is done by expanding upon an illustrative story or provocative example used as a hook. In persuasive speeches or writing, the clincher usually includes a "call to action," giving the listener a sense of what they are supposed to do with what they have heard, which loops back to the thesis from the introduction. A clincher could also warn against a possibility or suggest consequences of a problem introduced at the beginning. In any situation, using vivid imagery or language makes a clincher memorable.

Considerations

Humor may be used as a clincher technique, but should be approached with caution and consideration of the topic. For example, satirizing a complex situation may make it easier for the audience to grasp, but a writer should avoid alienating readers by making light of serious issues. Additionally, though it is useful to introduce new material or ask a rhetorical question, too much new information could leave a reader with too many questions and a lack of closure.

Warnings

Avoid drawing attention to the fact that the essay is ending. For example, do not write, "This is the end of my essay." Additionally, maintain authorial credibility and refrain from apologizing for a lack of knowledge about a subject. Finally, do not use the last sentence of an essay to make up for not fully developing main points. For example, the University of Richmond Writing Center encourages writers not to claim they will discuss four books in an essay, but instead discuss only two and summarize the other two in the clincher.

About the Author

Anna Tower has a B.A. in history and journalism from Washington & Lee University and a M.A.Ed. from the College of William and Mary. She has been writing since 2003 at various publications, including the "Rockbridge Report," the "Fairfax County Times" and "USA Today." Tower is certified to teach social studies, English and journalism in grades 6-12.

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