How to Write a Great Last Line

Don’t you just love it when a line in a book so good, that you just have to stop reading to appreciate it for a few minutes? Me too.  I think that’s part of the reason I began writing – to, just once – write one of those sentences.

You can find them scattered throughout books, of course (Jodi Picoult…sigh) But I think they’re most often at the very beginning, or the very end of a book. (I wrote a blog on first sentences. You can read it here.) Why? Well, I have to admit, as an author, I spend more time thinking/editing/writing/crafting those words than any other in the book. Are you the same?

Before we talk about how to do that – lets indulge ourselves (okay, we’ll wallow) in some amazing last lines, shall we?

“Oh, Jake,” Brett said, “we could have had such a damned good time together.” Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me. “Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

*     *     *

“Then starting home, he walked toward the trees, and under them, leaving behind him the big sky, the whisper of wind voices in the wind-bent wheat.”
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

*    *    *

 “Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.”
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

*     *     *

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

Animal Farm, George Orwell

*     *     *

Leave a Comment