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A Look At Endings

posted Feb 27, 2015, 7:37 AM by Ben Kreucher   [ updated Mar 13, 2015, 5:37 AM ]
In high school, my Latin teacher hammered into use the fact that endings are everything.  It's not just in the language, however.  Endings are just as important in writing.

Endings have power.  They make us laugh, cry, rage, or desire for the next book.  Endings can fulfill or disenchant, disturb or content.  Endings, I believe, are just as important as beginnings.

In beginnings, we get hooked.  We get a glimpse of the world of the story, the integrity of the character, and the budding of the overall conflict.  In endings, we get satisfaction...or at least, a resolution.  We depart the world, we say farewell to the character, and discover the conclusion of the conflict.  Not always in ways we expect or desire; but always, there is an end. 

I wrote a post a while back about first sentences (here).  Now, I'll create a list of last sentences.  Just for fun.  Sidenote: it's a lot harder to research last lines, unless you have a collection of books or are sitting at a library...at least, I think so.

  1. The other two pulled away from her breasts and added their voices to the call, translucent wings unfolding and stirring the air, and for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons.
  2. I take his hand, holding tightly, preparing for the cameras, and dreading the moment when I will finally have to let go.
  3. "I'll tell you," I said, "Tomorrow."
  4. I'm in the book.
  5. And then he turned, and walked back toward the entrance of the hotel.
  6. He looked a long time.
  7. I asked Argus to to take me down to cabin three, so I could pack my bags for home.
  8. "[...] I'm going to have a lot of fun with Dudley this summer...."
  9. "[...] I think you did, when you saved me from Gordon."
  10. And she knows that he will be with her always.
  11. It's just fairer than death, that's all.
  12. "You still have homework."
  13. "Good night."
  14. "The Dragon is reborn."
Okay, so maybe last lines aren't as compelling as first lines or nearly as important; but the final chapter(s) of a novel are can be what set it apart.  And, it's hardly readily apparent how we get from the first line to the last line.  I suppose that's part of the adventure and the mystery within each work.

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