"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
Fitzgerald had a gift for writing gorgeous last lines, a task many writers find challenging. What does an author say just before she drops the curtain and ends the play? The last few lines are meant to round out a story, reveal a final twist, send the reader back into the real world with a happy smile or a broken heart. Bland and lifeless endings are so disappointing, but great last lines stay with you forever.
Readers and writers, how important are last lines? Do they affect your memory of the piece? What are some of your favorite last lines? (Post them here and we'll see who can guess the most!)
Writers, are first lines or last lines more difficult to write? What are your favorite last lines from your stories?
Think you're good at last lines? See if you can guess these...
1. "After all, tomorrow is another day."
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
2. "I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth."
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
3. "He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning."
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
4. "She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smiled mysteriously."
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
5. "Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come."
All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
6. "Yes," she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, "I have had my vision."
To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
7. "And on the way home, she met her brothers, and there was a rough-and-tumble, and the lovely crown was broken, and she forgot the message, which was never delivered.”
Possession, A.S. Byatt
8. "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
9. "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
10. "-- Will you tell us about the other worlds out among the stars -- the other kinds of men, the other lives?"
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
1. "That night Arthur dreams that he is writing a letter to Percy, scratching the lines deeper and deeper into the paper, but over and over again the letters fade and disappear. In the morning, he wishes he knew what he meant to say; as hard as he tries, he can't remember the words."
Wordless by penknife
2. "The boy in the picture has a ... pet on his shoulder, Sirius sees. A shockingly familiar pet. A rat..."
A Feast in Azkaban by nyxfixx
3. "You will damage him." McGonagall's lips pressed into a thin line. "You can't keep doing this."
"I am the Headmaster, Minerva," Dumbledore smiled pleasantly. "I can do whatever I like."
Lightning Has Just Struck My Brain by mousapelli
4. "You'll have to ask the questions, Remus. But I promise I'll try to answer."
The Skull Beneath the Skin by ellenfremedon
5. "Then she stood on tiptoe, kissed his cheek, and said, “You dear, sweet romantic man.” He wasn’t sure he wouldn’t have preferred the three-hour lecture on Equal Rights."
The Bookshop by shiv5468
6. "He leaves Harry in the kitchen and steps into the bedroom; so dark he almost cannot see the writing on the walls, writing in a hand he still cannot forget. "And this," he whispers, to himself. "Is how much Sirius loved me."
Written By Hand by setissma
7. "Neither of them, however, will ever have the faintest desire to spot a broom, collect a knut, or press a pixie, which just goes to show that some rules are meant to be broken. "
Fly Fishing for Beginners by tryfanstone
8. "She was just etching the final “E” of her final word into the headboard when Draco Apparated into the room."
Room Serviced by pir8fancier
9. "Well," said Albus. "Good enough to be going on with, indeed." He chuckled and let the tablecloth drop. As he walked back to the other teachers, he thought he heard, faintly: "Fuck you."
Oral Sex by isiscolo
10. "Harry grinned. "Sometimes – just once in a while – will you write me a letter?"
Pariah by auctasinistra
Answers added 9.20, but I think you guys got them all--thanks for playing!
Thanks to summerborn who suggested this topic!