Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Closing Lines

Two weeks ago I did a post on great first lines, today is part two: great closing lines.

Often readers don't make it to the last line, as they lose interest in the story somewhere along the way. If you are like me, you'll flip to the last page, or chapter, to find out how the story ends and based on what you read, decide  whether it's worth your time to go back and read the rest. I know some of you find this act disturbing, but it allows me to have some closure in a story I might not have read all the way through, and often, that final scene, intrigues me enough to go back and plow through to the end.

Most authors understand that in our digital society, if the first few lines don't grab the reader, your book may not get read. But if you get them, and hold them to the end, it's the last line that causes that satisfied end of the book sigh as they close the book.

Below are a few closing lines, (in no particular order), from books I've enjoyed, as well as a few classics. Perhaps you also have a favorite closing line. Did I list it? Did I miss it? Either way, I'd love to hear your thoughts, in the comments section below, about books that made you sigh as you turned the last page.

"It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both." ~ Charlotte's Web, E.B. White

"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." ~ A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

" 'God's in his heaven, all’s right with the world,' whispered Anne softly." ~ Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery

"And that is the very end of the adventure of the wardrobe. But if the Professor was right it was only the beginning of the adventures of Narnia." ~ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis

"Often, he stared at the stars all night until the dark finally gave way to dawn." The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo

"The looked very much like a family. They felt like a family. They were a family." By the Great Horn Spoon, Sid Fleishcman


Tonja said...

I like the one from Tale of Despereaux.

I don't skip to the end, but I've read a lot of first chapters. :)

Kyra Lennon said...

People don't always like the endings of my books. They find them too open. But that is the kind of ending I like. I like some resolution but I don't like to have everything tied up because then there is no room for me to imagine what happens next. I probably need to work on that lol!

T. Drecker said...

Yeah! I'm soooo glad you posted this. Everyone seems to concentrate on those first lines, but there's so much more in a book. The last lines are the ending impression, the part which decides how a reader feels when he closes those pages. I think those are important too :)

Elise Fallson said...

Yes! The closing lines really do make a difference in the reading experience. That satisfied *sigh* when you close the book at the end is really important. The closing lines are also important if you're writing a series. Anyway, love your examples especially Charlott's Web....*sigh*

Another good one is A Wrinkle in Time, M. l'Engle:

"But they never learned what it was that Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which had to do, for there was a gust of wind, and they were gone."


Johanna Garth said...

There's nothing worse than an unsatisfying final line or chapter. I need it all wrapped up.

cleemckenzie said...

You picked some super closing lines here. And you're right, they are really as important to the story as those opening ones. It's just that by the time reader has invested so much time in the book, they'll WANT to read those last lines. It takes me a long time to come up with either the first or the last lines. They are tough.

Suzanne Furness said...

The end is just as important as the begining in my opinion. A reader isn't going to go out and read another book from an author that left them unsatisfied at the end of the story.

Have to agree that last line from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is a classic.

Ghadeer said...

I can't stand the thought of anybody skipping to the end!
But yes, endings are especially crucial to me. If it was going great but ended in a not so satisfying way then I can't like the book.

Scribbles From Jenn said...

@ Tonja, Most people don't like skipping to the end, just me.

@ Kyra, you have to write what works for you.

@ T. Drecker, thank you, I'm glad you agree!

@ Elise, great last line, I almost put that one in. Thanks for sharing.

@ Johanna, I like a satisfying ending too.

@ Clee, thank you. I agree, the reader does WANT to read those last lines. It's wonderful when the author gives us what we're expecting.

@ Suzanne, you are right, if one book leaves me unsatisfied, I won't read another by that author.

@ Ghadeer, I've heard that often. Should I tell you like to sneak a peak inside my Christmas gifts too? I guess patience isn't one of my virtues :/

Marcia said...

These are wonderful. The last line is what "nails the experience" for the reader; it's so important.

Tara Tyler said...

loved reading those
oh to be quoted some day!

Jeff Hargett said...

Gasp! You flip to the end? I could never do that and still enjoy the book, I think. But yes, those last words are incredibly important--even more important, I think, than the first ones. Oddly enough, the last line of the book I just finished is the same line that opens the book. We'll see if my "full circle" approach works or not. ;-)

Medeia Sharif said...

I never flip to the end. I like to be completely surprised.

I prefer endings to be neatly wrapped up, but I don't mind a well-written open ending.

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