Wednesday, 25 August 2010


Do you know where you are going?

The briefest writing advice is remembered most easily.

Joan Aiken was quoted as saying that her advice was to “write the last line first.”

The first time I read this I laughed.

It percolated while I was writing.

If you start out knowing the last line your work then, from the first word onwards, it has direction.
Combined with a simple plan, this would structure the narrative preventing even the most enthusiastic, free-form writer from meandering between the hook and the final line.

The finely crafted final line should not be considered as chiselled in stone nor Sharpie-d indelibly.

Try it out, can you think of the end? Remember it is only one possible final line, for your wip ;)

USURY: Double Desired
Will pressed his lips to the vee that formed on her forehead, when she shook her head and smiled. It was not a short kiss, there was no longer any need to rush. 


  1. hmm haven't thought of that.lets a possible last line: Andaya Walked back through the diamond arch, Her arms burned. She looked down and on both arms the black panthers cascaded down crawling their tattooed forms toward her hands.

  2. Interesting. I like to revise starting at the end, but I've never considered it for a first draft.

  3. I definitely almost start with the end. At least almost, I work out the most central characters then work out the end.

  4. Hi Summer
    I loved the image "crawling their tattooed form towards her hands" - an intriguing ending with the panthers in motion.

    Hi Matthew
    Now I hadn't thought of beginning the revisions at the end. I'm going to give that a try.

    Hi Al
    That makes for strong storytelling: the characters are the bedrock of the story.

  5. I like the idea of finding that ending line first. I do tend to have the final scene in mind, but I've never thought of the last line- thanks!

  6. Great idea. I usually don't know the last line, but I do know how the book ends. :)

  7. Hi Jemi
    You are welcome; I'll thank you on Joan's behalf, as she is no longer around to thank you herself ;)

    Hi Jill
    I thought it was a really useful exercise too :)

  8. I often write the ending first, for in most situations, it's the climax that I envision first, then fill in the blanks, figuring out how to drop my character into their precarious situation.

    While writing, it's also useful to go back and read the final outcome in order to keep your fingers from drifting on the keyboard as other ideas develop:)

  9. I always write the last line first! I thought I was just weird.

  10. Hi Elliot
    Wow! My first Ender: start at the end that find the straightest path that will get your characters there. Knowing the exact ending does help to keep you on the straight and narrow, and you just have to love those precarious situations!

    Hi Anne
    Another Ender! Who would have thought there would be any Startendfirsters around? ;