In feature writing, leads get most of the attention, but endings are equally, if not more, important.
A good ending absolutely, positively, must do three things at a minimum, says Bruce DeSilva of The Associated Press
- Tell the reader the story is over.
- Nail the central point of the story to the reader's mind.
- Resonate. “You should hear it echoing in your head when you put the paper down, when you turn the page… It should stay with you and make you think a little bit.”
There are three conventional types of conclusions. The default one – used by many writers – is to end with a snappy quote from someone mentioned earlier in the story. But it's the lazy man's approach to conclusion writing (although I must admit, I've been guilty of using this technique, usually when the deadline is fast approaching).
A better approach is to tie the conclusion to the lead. So, if you start off with a particular anecdote, you also end with something related to that anecdote. I occasionally use this approach. But be aware that it can get a bit corny if you don't do it well or use it too often.
The best approach is to provide some solid facts to sum up and reinforce the central message of the story. You can use a specific detail, a concrete image, a fact or a statistic to conclude the story. But it must be impactful and memorable.