We all know first lines are important, but what about last lines?
I was thinking about this at the weekend, when I was writing a short story and spent an hour agonising over the exact structure of the last line. I wanted it to leave an impression, to close the story and yet leave a tease so the reader would go to the next story.
I thought of my favourite last lines, such as
‘Well, I’m back,’ he said
From The Lord of the Rings. It’s so simple and yet so final – after all the adventures, Sam has made it home.
Or from 1984
‘He loved Big Brother’
Again, utterly simple, and yet chilling and echoes everything that went before.
Gone With The Wind is good
‘After all, tomorrow is another day!’
An evocation of everything Scarlett O’Hara is.
And my favourite last line all of time (incidentally, from the book that gives me one of my favourite first lines) from Dickens Tale of Two Cities
‘. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known’
It is a reflection of everything that has gone before, the battles that have been fought, the souls ripped apart in those horrific times and the final, good act of a careless drunkard. It makes me sob every time.
So I think spending just as long on the that last line as I did the rest of the story was worth it.
Sent from my iPad