So what's the problem? Would you believe that most writers I talk to tell me that the last chapter is often their hardest to write? Once again I find myself on the final chapter of my current manuscript, Forsaken Dreams, and once again I have to agree with them. There's so much to do in these last scenes.
- Tie up any loose ends or plot threads. Not as easy as it sounds! Sometimes I don't even remember I have threads. Forget finding them and tying them up!
- The main character or characters must have their grand epiphany! This is the moment where the hero or heroine pass the final test. They learn the lesson and finally grow, change, move forward and let go of the things which held them back through the entire story. Man, that's a lot of pressure! Both on them and on me!
- If the book is part of a series, you must give a hint of what's coming next. Leave some of those aforementioned threads frayed at the edges just a bit.
- If the book is at the end of a series, you've got an even bigger job of tying things up
- In a romance, the hero and heroine must get together. Otherwise, you'll have some mighty disappointed readers!
- The setting must be in a place of completion. The end of a journey. A place signifying the beginning of a new journey. A place that symbolizes peace, finality, family, and home.
- The villain must be defeated or at least subdued until another time.
- All secondary stories need to be wrapped up unless they continue in the next book of the series.
- You must convey a mood of joy and hope and completion. I.E. The hero wins the crown. The couple get married. Relationships are mended. Family is brought together. The future is brighter than it was at the beginning of the book. The mystery is solved. Justice is done.
And all this in one or two chapters! Yikes!!
And then there's that final sentence, equally as important as the first sentence of a book. It must be perfect! You want the reader to read that last word, lean back in his or her chair, and sigh deeply. You want the last sentence to feel like the final piece of a moist, double-chocolate cake with whipped cream icing.
I cannot tell you the hours I've spent agonizing over the final paragraph of my book.
Here's a few from my own books and from others I've read. Do you have any favorite last paragraphs/lines?? I'd love for you to share them!
“What does this mean, Father?” He scrunched his tiny nose. “Does this mean Miss Dawson can be my new mother now?” Chase gave his son another squeeze and kissed him on the nose.
“No, William. It means she already is.” The Falcon and the Sparrow by M.L. Tyndall
Standing in the warm, protective arms of the man she loved, blessed and cared for above all her expectations by the God of the universe, she thanked the Lord, her new heavenly Father, for the redemption of her soul, the redemption of her life, and the redemption of her heart. The Redemption by M.L. Tyndall
The snap of a sail sounded above them.
The ship jerked forward as the purl of the water played over the bow.
“Do you think God has more for us to do?”
looked up at Noah.
He smiled. “I think God has only just begun.” Surrender the Heart by MaryLu Tyndall
I glimpsed the handprints and instantly sobered. They were pushing me forward, ducking my head and forcing me outward, down the passageway, and I wanted to dig in, push back, refuse to go. They were forcing me away from the path.
The only path back
Back to Marcello.
The only path back. . . to love WaterFall by Lisa T. Bergren
Wilhelm and Rose slipped out a side door. Hand in hand they hurried toward the stairs and the life that had been planned for them since before they were born. The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson
In the New River Valley beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains, she still delivered most of the babies born. Rafe took care of every other medical need and the difficult births. Together, they formed a formidable couple, healing bodies as the Lord healed their hearts. Heart's Safe Passage by Laurie Alice Eakes
"Am I read?" she whispered, squeezing Sean's hand till she thought she would burst. "Oh, yes," she breathed. For the first time in my life. . . A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman