The Last Five Pages

Falling Trees & Unpublished Books

Does being a Writer spoil your Enjoyment of Reading?

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
We're advised to pay special attention to the beginning of our novel, making it as engaging as possible. It makes sense, largely because in making queries, it's the first few chapters that literary agents request as a writing sample.

The opening pages are one of several 'hooks' that an author uses to capture the reader. The opening line alone can be striking enough to warrant further attention, a propellant to force readers onwards. First lines become quotable, as do some last lines, and it's how to end a novel that I'm currently contemplating.

I'm 76,000 words into the 80,000 length of my fourth novel Sin Killers, so I have previous form. As I'm writing a series of stories about my Cornish detective, the ending of his latest investigation is both a rounding up and a springboard into the future. It took me two weeks of cogitation, research and planning before I wrote the previous chapter featuring the confrontation between my hero and the villains, and their chase and arrest. Normally, midway through a novel, I'd write four chapters in two weeks.

I love starting a book, as it feels like heading out on a much anticipated journey. Coming to the end of that trip, I always get the blues, but I'm also feeling trepidation. I want to get things right, as too many novels dribble away with unresolved issues and predictable lets-get-this-out-of-the-way blandness.

I'd prefer to provide something memorable for my readers, an unexpected twist, and hopefully engender in them a feeling of fondness for my protagonist. An unforgettable final line would be fantastic.

Do any of you have a problem with endings?

Have you created any killer last lines?

Killer last line. Well, I am hoping so. A three word line. It's nothing fancy though, not from a pyrotechnic literary point of view.
Let's play 'Guess KTLN's Three Word Closing Line'. ...

'That's the end' ? 'Happily ever after' ? Too obvious. Hmmm. Something that references the supernatural theme of her story perhaps. 'Ghosts always do'? No. There was a piece of eight involved, wasn't there, and a fraternal relationship, so how about: 'Brother in alms'?

BTW, what's the prize for the closest guess, KTLN?
I would have said a chocolate button but I just ate it. Heheh.

It won't mean much out of context, (and it is not an epistolary novel) but the last three word line says -

'Letter not sent.'
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I often get my last paragraph-or-so long in advance of getting to the end, and sometimes it's an entire chapter. It's not something I search for but lines tend to spring into my head (not helpful at all, right?). My third book was different: it just sort of ended and, arguably, without much of an ending at all. Some books demand an outcome - some type of resolution or denouement - but not always.
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Falling Trees & Unpublished Books

Does being a Writer spoil your Enjoyment of Reading?