Skip to content

There and Back Again: Finding Your Beginning in “The End” (new series)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Match up the First Line, Last Line, and Book Title from these ten works of classic literature:

First Lines

Last Lines


1. All children, except one, grow up. A. “…my life now, my whole life apart from anything that can happen to me, every minute of it is no more meaningless, as it was before, but it has the positive meaning of goodness, which I have the power to put into it.”

by George Orwell

2. Call me Ishmael. B. “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens

3. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. C. And, to our bitter grief, with a smile and in silence, he died, a gallant gentleman.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain

4. I am by birth a Genevese, and my family is one of the most distinguished of that republic. D. But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.

Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy

5. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. E. He loved Big Brother.

by Bram Stoker

6. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. F. He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.

by Mary Shelley

7. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. G. Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.

Gone With The Wind
by Margaret Mitchell

8. Left Munich at 8:35 P.M., on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. H. When Margaret grows up she will have a daughter, who is to be Peter’s mother in turn; and thus it will go on, so long as children are gay and innocent and heartless.

Moby Dick
by Herman Melville

9. Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were. I. …they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them.

Peter Pan
by J. M. Barrie

10. You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. J. 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.

Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen


How many of the first lines did you recognize as soon as you read them?

How many of the last lines?

How many of them did you recognize and were able to put together because of the context—because you are familiar with the story and/or characters—but not because you actually recognized the specific first or last line itself?

I’ll post the answers tomorrow, but I wanted to do this exercise as an introduction to the new series we’ll be diving into this week:

Finding Your Beginning in "The End" |

A few questions to ponder before we begin:

  • Why are first lines more memorable than last lines?
  • Are first lines more important than last lines?
  • Why are there so many more books, articles, blog posts, etc., published about writing first lines/openings than there are about writing last lines/endings?
  • What’s your favorite last line of a book?

  1. Sunday, October 26, 2014 11:10 pm

    Nice choices – I instantly recognised 7/10 and deduced 2/10. The last one I had no idea because I never read it.



  1. Writer-Talk Wednesday: Beginnings, Middles, and Endings | #amwriting #2017WritingGoals |

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: