Updated: Sep 1, 2021
By Michael Heath / selfpublishingUS.com
A recent post described literary devices used at the beginning of a nonfiction book: introduction, preface, and foreword. As you can tell from the title, this post bookends that post with literary tools used in a nonfiction book’s final pages. Every book has an end. Here we will discuss things to consider when bringing a nonfiction book to its finality.
Editors tell me that they often discover evidence of writer’s fatigue at the end of a manuscript. The chapters shorten. The writing thins. Writing a book is hard work requiring long hours, so it is understandable that it shows when an author wanted to get the work over with. However, it is important to close the work in a way that leaves a lasting impression.
The Conclusion, or last chapter, should function as a summarizing of concepts or ideas put forth in the body of the text. It should give the reader a deeper understanding of the thesis and even provide implications for them to ponder.
The Afterword differs in that someone other then the author writes it. The purpose of this literary device is to reinforce the author’s main idea. This may be done by discussing how the idea was formulated or why the work came into existence.
Endnotes are sometimes found at the last pages of a book and have the same function as footnotes. A footnote is information that the writer believes is important but is not relevant to the argument made in the text. Too many footnotes can be distracting, so sometimes they are organized at the end of the book as endnotes. The issue with endnotes is that they are less likely to be read than footnotes.
Other back-matter items that may be used in a book include a glossary, index, and bibliography. The glossary is an alphabetized list of terms in the book that are technical, specific to a field of knowledge, uncommon or newly introduced. An index is a list of significant terms found in the text with pages numbers where they can be found. A bibliography identifies books and authors when their material was used in the book. Proper citation is important to avoid plagiarism.
The Doors’ front man Jim Morrison wrote The End about his break-up with girlfriend Mary Werbelow. This haunting ballad was the final song played in the last concert the rock group ever performed. In this case, The End really was the end.