Thursday, May 31, 2012

The last line

Mickey Spillane: “Your first line sells the book. Your last line sells the next book."

I'm finishing up revisions on a book, and thinking about how nice it is to write the last line, and how seldom I think I have the RIGHT last line.

So what's a good last line? Have you written one? Why is it good? How about from books you've read?



Ian said...

I have some favorite last lines I've written.

This is from Hope and Undead Elvis. The main character, Hope, has had daddy issues all through the book. The final scene she has her young son and someone is asking if he's named after the singer.

Hope shook her head, smiled, and said, "No. After my father."

This is from The Guitarist. Music, especially blues by Stevie Ray Vaughan, plays a huge theme throughout the book. This is the titular character's triumphant moment.

She stepped back, put her foot on her wah-wah pedal, choked up her strings, and started the rhythmic strumming of "Voodoo Child."

And for a great last line written by somebody else, there's Sam's final phrase at the end of LOTR: The Return of the King.

"Well, I'm back."

Unknown said...

I like the last line in my second book, Blood-Mage Rising. The identity of the uber-villain of the series has just been revealed, along with a good portion of his ultimate plans. The book started with him dumping a third body on the sidewalk and finishes with:

"Just one of many casualties in the war about to be waged for the fate of the world."

Love the final line from LOTR! Much better ending than the dragged-out movie ending. Ugh.

Adrian said...

That's a great quote.

I can't seem to remember any closing lines, except for _Watership Down_, which I read in junior high. I remember many opening lines, though.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

That was Spillane? I had a friend in grad school who used to pass that off as his own. Stinker.

Still, it's great advice.

Edittorrent said...

In A. Manette Ramsay's "Vinegar Hill," the last line was super-resonant. It's a book about a family torn apart by a job loss and the resulting economic problems, and the final line shows the mother and daughter joining hands as they look out over the "flat coin of the lake." It's a gorgeous image. The family draws together again, even though the coin is flat and liquid. The book was pretty grim, but the payoff in that last line made it worth every page.