Beginning at the End

I’m a big fan of author John Irving, and each time I’ve had the good fortune to hear him read, he mentions his writing process: he writes the very last line of his book FIRST. (Consider “In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases.”) I’m now in the habit of reading that last line before I start reading the book as a whole, and I have become particularly intrigued to see what the line can tell me about what is coming.

So, in that spirit, I’d like to offer you a sneak peek at an upcoming Iron Kingdoms novel, BLACK CROWNS by Richard Lee Byers (2017; currently in editing). The next book in the Black River Irregulars series, it offers a wonderful last line that I think does the final tale a solid service:

Behind her, something rattled. Reaching for a magelock, she turned, but the noise was only a squirrel bounding along the outstretched branch of a poplar.

 I love the dissection of those last lines. With this one, it makes me want to ask: who is “she”? How does this line mirror whatever has happened before it (I get the sense that she’s been snuck up on at least once previously!)?

In looking back at the two books that precede it (MURDER IN CORVIS by Richard Lee Byers and BLACK DOGS, we have equally engaging final lines:

Eilish tilted his head. “Not bad. I can live with it.” (MURDER IN CORVIS)

 “Then it’s unanimous,” she said. She gave Canice and Natak a smile. “Welcome.” (BLACK DOGS)


Check out to read how these books reach these final lines.

Your Ideas: Another upcoming book (which we’ll discuss another time) in Skull Island’s first Protectorate of Menoth novel. With just that bit of information, what should the LAST line of the book be?  Add your line the comments below! 

Next post: Thursday, December 29