It would be completely reasonable to blame John Green for my obsession with lasts – last words; last lines; last attempts. But I was a writer long before I discovered what is still my favorite book of all time, and if I remember correctly, I have always put more effort into the last words and lines of everything I have written than anything else – even the first ones.
Every final line in my books and stories – even transitioning from chapter to chapter – I want it to be memorable. Sometimes it’s a punch, sometimes it’s a heartwarming phrase. Sometimes it’s dialogue. Like the Last Four Words of one of my favorite TV shows, I want people to wonder; to imagine; to say, “OK, I’m not going to be able to stop thinking about this for days.”
I often end up writing the last lines of my books before I actually finish. Though I am still very far off from finishing my current NaNo novel (don’t ask me my word count, I’m already anxious enough …), I’ve already written the last line. It’s the line I would hope an agent would say, “Are you planning on making this a series?” to which I would reply, “Please?”
In a dream world, of course. This is a first draft. The last line may change. In fact, I’m almost counting on it. If I end up rewriting this thing, it’s going to be a completely different book.
Your last line is important. Sometimes it just comes to you – you’re in the flow and you just write it without second-guessing yourself and you stop, because that’s it, you’re done, it’s over.
Sometimes you keep trying to write the ending, that last phrase, and the story just keeps going. Or you stare at that page for what feels like forever, and everything you think of feels inadequate, compared to what your story deserves.
Let’s focus now on a different kind of last line – the last line you write during NaNo 2016. Whether that’s the line that gets you over 50,000 or the last line you write before you update your word count one last time before midnight hits.
Are you ready? Because this will be the easiest, and most challenging, part of the month.
One minute you’re going to be typing away. And the next, it’s going to be over.
Whether you’re going to ‘win’ or not – it’s OK if you aren’t; I’m probably not going to this year, and we’ll talk about that later (maybe) – your last line still matters. Remember that you tried as hard as you could. Make that last line count. Be proud of it. Celebrate. Just be glad you, in some way, survived.
Keep writing, one word at a time. I have about 9,000 to squeeze in today. Sooo … good luck to all. And if you’re already past 50,000 – cheers! I’ve done that eight times. It feels better every year. You’re awesome. I’m proud of you. I mean it.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.