Sunday, September 16, 2012

The last line

I often see articles go up regarding the best 1st lines in a book. One this morning made me think of this and I thought I'd pose this question to you: Does a first line really matter? Is that the line that has the most impact for you as a reader?

Personally for me, it doesn't. Writers want to start off with a bang, whether that be very descriptive writing, high intensity action scenes, or writing something that moves the soul. Em, maybe that's not me. Clearly, if you've read Twist, which begins with the characters playing Battleship. I love reading a book that knows how to end. Whether it's a great last line or just a last chapter. It's the way the book ends that leaves me with all the warm fuzzies, nail-biting anticipation for the sequel, or that sigh that makes you want to read it all over again.

I don't think it's the first thing someone says to you that's the most important, but the last.

That may be a running theme on how my writing style is. Do I have a style? I don't know, I never really analyzed it or compared it to others. I don't feel the need to start off chapter one with an elaborate description of the city skyline or a one-legged bird pecking at another bird's egg, symbolizing nature's instinct to destroy hope. When I feel myself getting close to the ending, I always want it to have an impact to the reader. I'd like to think that you smile, sigh, or maybe even shed a tear.

Nothing is more frustrating than when a book ends in the same fashion as someone slamming a door in your face without warning. Pay attention to that while reading the next few novels on your reading list and see what you think about how the book begins and ends. How did it make you feel starting off vs where it left you in the end? Did it abandon you like a jilted lover with a short note scribbled on your pillow? Did it drop you off at the bus station on a Sunday when the buses aren't even running?

Or did it wrap you up in a warm embrace, kiss your neck softly, and tell you that it loved the way you held them?


  1. I think it takes the first paragraph to reel me in. Maybe the following ones. But the first line? Not so much. Sure, you can write an amazing first line, but it's the rest that really counts. Now the last line, HAS to be the perfect closing line. It has to make me want to read the next book, or floored at the amazing reading experience I just had. Just like the last line above that made me think of Logan. lol

  2. A first line does not make or break a book for me. If it's super catchy, that's great, but it's neither here nor there if the rest of the book is crap.
    I despise it when books do a "door slam" ending (excellent analogy!) because it's jarring and kind of rude. Set up for the next book? Yes! Ending on a point of intrigue? Sure! Seemingly stopping the book in the middle of a chapter with no warning? Not cool! Keep us wanting more, not piss us off, lol. The ending of my favorite books often have questions unanswered but not startling revelation and then "The End" right after it.

    1. I tend to agree only because I've read books that start out so strong to hook me in, and then left me in the breeze. I've read plenty of books that didn't seem to know how to wrap up, and sometimes it was just an awkward line. I'm also not crazy about the endings that pose a question, trying to interest me in what could be happening in the sequel. I don't think it's necessary because if you've left a few unanswered questions in the book, that will come naturally.

      I'm the same way with movies. When a narrator is closing and says something like, "Humans won the war against the aliens, and a new world was born from that day forth."

      Cue the music, and then all of a sudden you see some alien poking his undead hand out of the ground - then fade to black.