I’m a firm advocate of the line of thought that your story’s final sentence is the most powerful line of the whole book. That one line has the power of thousands and thousands of words behind it, and it can and should pack a punch. Here are seven practical ways to write a solid closing line, compiled from my own reading and writing experience.
#1 Make it unique to your story
If your closing line could be used in any other story, change it so that it only works for yours. Don’t settle for the generic “And they lived happily ever after.”
#2 Make it meaningful
Your closing line shouldn’t be random or empty. It carries a lot of weight, and it should reflect the drive behind your whole novel.
#3 Reflect the tone of your novel
If the overarching tone of your novel is cheerful, a sad last sentence will seem awkward and out of place.
#4 Make it emotional
This is very important! Your readers have just spent hours, days, and weeks suffering alongside your cast of characters. They deserve a last sentence that appeals to their emotions and leaves them wanting more.
Note: by emotional, I don’t necessarily mean sad. Simply engage your reader’s various emotions. (Sad works, though.)
#5 Keep it short
Short sentences are more impacting, and your last sentence needs to be as impacting as possible.
#6 Relate it to the story
Avoid last sentences that have nothing to do with the story. Readers should be able to say “Oh, I get it! It ended like that because…”
#7 Circularity is your friend
You get bonus points from your reader if the last sentence strikes a familiar chord. An extreme example would be having the last sentence and the first sentence be the same, or very similar. Or, you could have the last sentence be something that was repeated throughout the novel and now carries extra meaning. It’s up to you!
The bottom line is this: the last sentence in your novel is the final chance you have to connect with the reader. Make it emotionally satisfying, unique to your story, put time and effort into it, and make your readers want to come back for more. Don’t settle!
What do you do to choose the last line in your novel? What are some of your favorite closing lines from books you’ve read or written? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section!