So, I know a lot of my readers like first line writing prompts, so I decided to pull together a list of awesome last liners from popular and unpopular novels to use a writing kick starter. Use these famous last novel lines as a story starter or prompt to help you start a new short story or something longer.
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I find that the authors’ tone is often reflected in my writing after; I love this aspect, of utilizing other writer’s styles, as a way of finding and developing your own.
Again, I’ve sourced a lot of my favourites from this curated list from American Book Review of nominated best last lines of novels.
After going through and finding somewhat associated images for the prompts, I’ve realized they’re all very dark, and I apologize for that :/ I promise I make the next list of prompts a lot more cheerful xx (But here’s one until then:)
Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash
Writing Hints: (and don’t take these too seriously)
At first, take 10 minutes and just write what comes to mind after reading the prompt. Use it as your starting point and go from there.
After the 10 minutes, if you still have time — start asking questions to see if you can turn your freewrite into a usual story.
Ask yourself the Who, Why, What, Where, When, and How questions and see what you can come up with.
30 Last Line Writing Prompts
1. He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.
–Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818)
Photo by Daniel Jensen on Unsplash
2. If only we could start a band and change the world. Wouldn’t that be fun?
–Mark Amerika, The Kafka Chronicles (1993)
3. The lake is quiet, the trees surround me, asking and giving nothing.
–Margaret Atwood, Surfacing (1972)
4. Are there any questions?
–Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1986)
5. Go, my book, and help destroy the world as it is.
–Russell Banks, Continental Drift (1985)
6. The key to the treasure is the treasure.
–John Barth, “Dunyazadiad” from Chimera (1972)
Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash
7. “And then the storm of shit begins.”
–Roberto Bolaño, By Night in Chile (2000; trans. Chris Andrews)
8. Shining fragments of aquarium glass fell like snow around him. And when the long-awaited white fingers of water tapped and lapped on Oscar’s lips, he welcomed them in as he always had, with a scream, like a small boy caught in the sheet-folds of a nightmare.
–Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda (1988)
9. Everyone is waiting for Father, who may, or may not, come home.
–George Chambers, The Last Man Standing (1990)
10. There was the hum of bees, and the musky odor of pinks filled the air.
–Kate Chopin, The Awakening (1899)
For a list of awesome novel first line writing prompts check out this post here: 10 Awesome First Line Prompts For Writers.
11. Over the river a golden ray of sun came through the hosts of leaden rain clouds.
–Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (1895)
Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash
12. In the end they had to carry me to the infirmary and feed me through plastic tubes.
–Don DeLillo, End Zone (1972)
13. He waited for someone to tell him who to be next.
–Brian Evenson, The Open Curtain (2006)
14. “Meet Mrs Bundren,” he says.
–William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (1930)
Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash
15. “Yes, dammit, I said ‘was’. The bitch is dead now.”
–Ian Fleming, Casino Royale (1953)
16. She was seventy-five and she was going to make some changes in her life.
–Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections (2001)
17. She walked rapidly in the thin June sunlight towards the worst horror of all.
–Graham Greene, Brighton Rock (1938)
18. I been away a long time.
–Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest(1962)
19. Above the farm, a moon bright as butter silvers the night as Annie holds the door open for me.
–W. P. Kinsella, Shoeless Joe (1982)
20. Going along the sidewalk, dragging my tail.
–William Kotzwinkle, Doctor Rat(1976)
21. And at the instant he knew, he ceased to know.
–Jack London, Martin Eden (1909)
22. Somebody threw a dead dog after him down the ravine.
–Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano (1947)
23. He never sleeps, the judge. He is dancing, dancing. He says that he will never die.
–Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (1985)
24. From the roof there fluttered eggs and roses.
–Nicholas Mosley, Impossible Object (1968)
25. Look where your hands are. Now.
–Toni Morrison, Jazz (1992)
26. Could the truth be so simple? So terrible?
–Tim O’Brien, In the Lake of the Woods (1994)
Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash
27. A dream can be the highest point of a life.
–Ben Okri, The Famished Road(1991)
28. He loved Big Brother. –George Orwell, 1984 (1949)
29. He had made it, he was here, in Heaven. Now what?
–John Updike, Bech: A Book (1970)
30. He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was.
–Oscar Wilde, Picture of Doran Gray (1890)
For a more First-Line Writing Prompts check out these two recent posts: 10 Awesome First Line Prompts For Writers, 7 Wondrous First Line Writing Prompts.
I’d love to hear which prompt worked best for you! Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll reply as soon as I can 🙂
If you are interested in checking out any of the original novels, head over to Amazon or Booktopia (or Amazon) in Australia.
Here’s a selection of my favourites from the list from Amazon (advertisement-affiliate link):
To learn how to generate story ideas on demand, check out Holly Lisle’s Brand New Short Story Writing Class! Lessons 1 & 2 are incredible for idea generation 🙂