Endings aren’t quite as important as beginnings in drawing readers in, but they’re important in trying to continue to a dialogue.
If you read a lot of newspapers (and you should, since they can provide you with ideas for your own writing, especially if you’re building a platform and using your blog to create a book), you’ll notice that journalists often try to end an article with something memorable. At The Wall Street Journal, where I worked for many years, we called this a kicker.
For a kicker, you tried to reiterate the theme or news of the feature or the article by finding an appropriate quote with which to end, something maybe a little humorous or ironic.
Many times I had to call sources back, or re-interview someone I’d spent an hour with on the phone, to get the kind of kicker that my editor wanted. It often seemed to me at the time that editors were more concerned about how to end an article than they were about what was in it, and that I needed to find the kind of quotes they wanted to hear rather than what the interview subjects actually said. Little wonder that some journalism is considered suspect: For some newspaper and many magazine editors, it’s about presentation, sometimes at the expense of content.
But good reporters know how to end (and begin) their articles with flair.
Consider this excellent example of a kicker from a recent column by David Carr in The New York Times (you can read the full story here), in which Carr describes the new ways of watching television (unhooked from broadcast or even cable):
At some point, the laws of both gravity and economics will begin to pull down the upfronts, and with them, the fundamentals of the television business. Jeff Gaspin, who used to head entertainment at NBC, told Bill Carter that he and his son recently decided to catch up on a particular series and so assembled episodes from a variety of sources â€” iTunes, Netflix and the DVR. They saw all the past episodes in time to watch the final one live on AMC but found that commercials interrupted their experience.
So what show demonstrated to the former television executive that the old way of watching television was losing relevance?
â€œThe Walking Dead.â€
But when you’re writing a blog, and engaging in a continuing and expanding dialogue with readers, you want to end with something that will lead your reader to comment.
So, your blog is not only an exploration of an idea, but also a sort of challenge to a reader. You will want to end with a question, asking your readers to tell you what they feel. Sometimes readers don’t need to be prompted â€“ but sometimes a prompt will get them to leave you a comment. And this helps your blog and your site become more dynamic.
What about it? What kind of questions do you end your blogs with?
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