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Famous Last Words—Answers . . . and Another Question!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Congratulations to Austin Field who got an amazing 10 out of 15 correct! Austin wins the Amazon gift certificate. And here are the answers:

1. 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 by Charles Dickens

2. Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and he great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville

3. He drew a deep breath. “Well, I’m back,” he said.
The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien

4. He was still the same old God, ordering my life and doing all things well.
The Visitation by Frank Peretti

5. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

6. Hadn’t they ever seen a kiss before? At least they couldn’t hear her as she whispered into his ear. “You haven’t seen the last of me, Jamie D. Lane.”
The Celebrity by Robert Elmer

7. “ . . . Daily he announces more distinctly, ‘Surely I come quickly!’ and hourly I more eagerly respond, ‘Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus!’”
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

8. She gloried in being a sailor’s wife, but she must pay the tax of quick alarm for belonging to that profession which is, if possible, more distinguished in its domestic virtues than in its national importance.
Persuasion by Jane Austen

9. He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

10. Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past.
My Ántonia by Willa Cather

11. “She is the Surprise,” said Stephen, and he whispered, “The joyful Surprise, God and Mary be with her.”
The Far Side of the World by Patrick O’Brian

12. And, to our bitter grief, with a smile and in silence, he died, a gallant gentleman.
Dracula by Bram Stoker

13. And everyone, of course, lived happily ever after.
Miss Invisibility by Laura Jensen Walker

14. “I feel like praising and glorifying our Lord in heaven and giving Him thanks for all that He has done for us.”
Heidi by Johanna Spyri

15. The joy of the children was in his voice.
Christy by Catherine Marshall

So, now the question becomes: why are first lines more memorable/quotable/worthy of academic or critical scrutiny than last lines? Is the last line of a novel or story as important as the first line?

  1. Sunday, April 15, 2007 9:07 am

    I was able to find all fun #4, #11, #13, #14, #15

    The ones I did find are novels I either read or know of the story. The ones I couldn’t find, Some of them I didn’t even know.

    I think last lines are harder to write. I just finished my first draft, and it took me two weeks to write the last two chapters (I stalled) because of the ending. I knew how it was going to end, but I didn’t know how to end it. You need the book ending to be satisfying, answer all the important questions and yet still leave just a little to the readers imagination. (I say leave a little to the imagination because I feel a reader will continue to fill in certain blanks with their own version of how they want certain things to end…happen after the novel is finished.)

    The first lines you need to get the readers attention, if they’ve made it to the last line then it becomes more about satisfaction–being happy with the outcome…I think last lines aren’t as ‘remembered’ because (at least for me) when I get to the end it’s about the overall feeling. Did the story live up to my expectations? Am I happy now that I’ve finished the book? How about everything from beginning to end, did it all flow, connect?

    I think last lines are just as important as first lines, but I don’t think as much focused is put on them. I hate bad or unsatisfactory endings. This year in fact I’ve read too many books where I was disappointed in the endings. I wonder though how many authors focus as much attention on the last line/paragraph as they do on the first. When I read I get the feeling sometimes that many authors don’t put as much into their endings as they do the beginnings…

    Just my thoughts.


  2. Sunday, April 15, 2007 9:08 am

    Ugh…I wish I could edit. Find all BUT (not fun…)


  3. Austin Field permalink
    Sunday, April 15, 2007 8:38 pm

    Thanks! I can’t wait to use the gift certificate…I have just the thing in mind. I think you would approve. I’ve always wanted Stein on Writing.

    BTW, it’s your fault I couldn’t concentrate in church this morning. All I could think about was getting back to you blog (great new look!) and finishing your showing vs telling series. I spent almost all day Saturday reading through your Fiction Writing Series. I’ve filled almost a whole spiral notebook with notes and ideas on how I can make my novel better before I start submitting it.

    Thanks for everything you do with this blog for those of us “baby” writers out here.


  4. Tuesday, April 17, 2007 12:36 am

    I’m one who thinks last lines are (or should be) as important as first lines, and of your list I did recognize all of the books I’ve finished, but therein lies the rub:

    Many more books are begun than finished.
    There’s simply more beginnings in collective consciousness than endings.


  5. Tuesday, April 17, 2007 11:57 am

    I think last lines are TOTALLY just as important as first lines because that’s what the reader walks away with. Go figure why no one talks about them



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