So you can read my books

Friday, August 19, 2016


The first sentence 
(the 2nd most important sentence in your book) 
gets the reader to buy & read your book.

The last sentence makes them glad 
they did.

Take the BEN HUR remake.  

Everyone, even the ones who enjoyed the first of the film, were turned off by the ending.

What a great last line will do:

1.) Refers back to a theme that runs throughout the book.  Double bonus points if it mirrors the first line.

2.) Breathes a spirit of victory (even in defeat) or hope.

3.) Reveals the purpose of the novel and/or meaning of the title.

A good last line will give finality, 

yet with a sense of continuing into another story that those who survived the novel will continue living their lives.


"So that, in the end, there was no end."
    - Patrick White, The Tree of Man (1955)

"But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."
   -  A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner (1928)

"He waited for someone to tell him who to be next."
 - Brian Evenson, The Open Curtain (2006) 

"But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably  diffusive: 

for the growing good of the wortld is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; 

and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been 

is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."
   - George Elliot, Middlemarch (1871-72)

"He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance."
   - Mary Shelly, Frankenstein (1818)

"It was the nightmare of real things, the fallen wonder of the world."
   - Don DeLillo, The Names (1982)

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
   - F. Scott Fitzgerald,  The Great Gatsby (1925)

"Everything had gone right with me since he died, but how I wished there existed someone to whom I could say that I was sorry."
   - Graham Greene, The Quiet American (1956)



  1. Tim O'Brien's, The Things They Carried

    "I'm skimming across the surface of my own history, moving fast, riding the melt beneath the blades, doing loops and spins, and when I take a high leap into the dark and come down thirty years later, I realize it is as Tim trying to save Timmy's life with a story."

  2. Mirrors the first sentence? Nope, never done that. The closest I came was in two of my books where the first and last lines were from the same character. Oh well.

    1. It is just a nice way to frame your novel that resonates with the reader:

      Your hero, Xian, is a raw recruit in the Space Academy, and the first words he hears upon arriving are spoken by its commander:

      "You think you know everything. You know NOTHING!"

      After a novel filled with death-defying missions, promotion-winning victories and friend and love losing defeats, Xian has become the new Academy Commander.

      He looks out upon the terribly young faces of the new batch of recruits and murmurs to himself:

      "You think you know everything ... you know nothing, nothing."

      That last line will resonate with the reader, making your novel a deeper experience. At least I think it would. :-)

  3. I can't come up with a favourite last line off the top of my head, Roland, but I understand about 'mirroring' - it's something I always try to do in my travel articles. Also, although the last line of the book I'm writing isn't written yet, I have a good idea of how it will end... and it will definitely mirror the beginning. :)

    Susan at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

    1. The mirroring first and last lines serve as a meaningful bracket of sorts that lends a depth to the whole book I think. I don't always use it as I like to vary my prose approach from book to book. Best of luck with your new book! Let me know when you need a shout-out from me. :-)

  4. I always rather loved "Last night I dreamed of Manderly..." from REBECCA. I do love beautiful sentences. Right now I am reading a collection of short stories by Sherman Alexei and he has some beauties.

    1. "Manderly" is such an evocative word, isn't it? Now, I will have to inquire into Sherman Alexei thanks to you. :-)

  5. I don't remember any last lines any more. But I went back to read the last line of my tribute to Errol in the last A to Z and was amazed at how well I did. Considering what you just suggested full fledged writers do.

    How are you doing with all the flooding? I hae been thinking of you, but my computer has had some problems. Hope all is OK with you.

    1. You are a fine writer, Inger, as your series on Errol proved. In all the posts you have written, you have written several books!

      Whew! I have just finished working 13 hours straight and driving 375 miles, and I am STILL on first call! Help!

  6. I'm coming up on my last line (I'm editing my novel...again...), so I'll keep this in mind.

    1. Best of luck with your editing. It is such a pain, but is essential to do. :-(

  7. For movies, the best last line has got to be from Casablanca: "Louis, I believe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

  8. "Outside, the brook swam quietly through the woods, and up above them the warm wind blew through the newly opened leaves of the big oak tree. They went to sleep." Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. (Technically that's two sentences...)

    "She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smile mysteriously." The Grapes of Wrath.

    The last sentence in my latest book doesn't mirror the first, but it does relate back to the theme of the book, which as a lot to do with friendship.

    1. Mirroring is not important: it's just a nice touch. Being evocative, sending chills through the reader with the last line is a great way to get folks to tell their friends about it though. :-)

  9. Hi Roland - what an interesting post ... I'd not noted these ideas before - noted now ... but I try and remember to tie everything up ... even though it's a post and not a book.

    Now I'll have to keep my eyes open on first sentences and mirrored sentences with any book I read. I can quite see where you're coming from ... love that idea that the last sentence will ensure that the book was a good purchase.

    Cheers Hilary

    1. Thanks so much, Hilary! I often check the last sentences of books and the first.

      Craig Johnson in his Longmire mystery series has parallel situations at the beginning and end of his books. So when I read the beginning of each new book from him, I wonder how he will tie it up with its ending. :-)