Thursday, October 6, 2011

Last Line of the Chapter Critiques

Critique Time Again

The Month of October we’re going to be critiquing the last sentence of a chapter.

What makes an excellent last sentence of a chapter? Like a last sentence of a paragraph, it must leave a question that the reader feels compelled to have answered. It must entice the reader to read the next paragraph, turn the page, and begin the next chapter.

What makes a book a page-turner?

Answer: The last line.

While it's important throughout your work to craft each line so that it pulls the reader to the next paragraph, there is nothing more powerful than a last line of a chapter that leaves the reader longing to find out what happens next. More than a want, it’s a need. It becomes a necessity to turn that page to the next chapter and read more.

As Linda mentioned last month, “we are all so close to our own writing it's hard to be objective, no matter how good we are at offering critiques to others. Getting insightful perspectives from experienced outside readers is invaluable, and that's what we hope to provide you here.”

Please tell us a little about the story. The situation. Then share your last line. I’ll go first with a book I’m reading.

WINGS A Novel of World War II FlyGirls  by Karl Friedrich. 

Eighteen-year-old Sally escapes the abuse of her alcoholic father. She’s flying an open-air fabric-wing bi-plane with the two loves of her life—her soul mate and his plane. They have just crashed.

“She lay on the ground and watched the flames consume the cockpits. And she screamed and screamed, as all that she loved vanished forever from the universe.”

I was hooked. Pull me to chapter two. I want to find out what happens to Sally now that her world has been destroyed. What will she do? Where will she go? How will she survive? Will she ever fly again? I'm hooked and want to learn more.

Now your turn. Please post your sentence below.

If necessary we’ll use to randomly select three of the entries, and next Friday I’ll post them here, and we'll open the comments up for constructive feedback. The ensuing Friday I'll post the same sentences with feedback from each critique sister.

Thank you for participating.  And remember...

Enjoy the journey.

XOX Karlene


  1. This sounds like fun, I can hardly wait to read everyone's last lines in their chapters!

  2. I agree! I'm looking forward to reading the entries of those lucky enough to be chosen.

  3. Ha, I was through tons of edits and a couple beta readers before it occurred to me that my mc went to sleep at the end of most of the chapters (including the first 3 in a row!). GAH!!

  4. Okay, everyone... we need some daring person to put up their last lines.

  5. Ok, this is the last line of the first chapter of a book I've been struggling with one and off for 18 months, while finishing 3 other books.

    It's 1888, Emelia has left her family home in Maui to start a bakery on the Big Island in the cowtown of Waimea. The first man she meets has charmed the socks off of her. (but it's complicated...)

    last line of Chapter 1:
    "Emelia had never thought she would be married. That a man would really choose to spend his life with her. There were so many other beautiful, exciting, exotic women in Hawaii. Felipe was all she could have asked for, and more than she ever expected."

    last line of Chapter 2:
    "He didn’t trust Felipe to make Emelia happy. He didn’t trust himself around Emelia either. He had not spoken a word to her, and he was afraid that if he stared into her eyes and saw her sweet smile unfold for him alone, he’d throw her over his shoulder and run as far and as fast as he could, claiming what should be his.
    There was only one thing Mateo could honorably do. Make himself scarce."

    Still needs work...and another 20,000 words.

    Elaine Lowe

  6. I'll give it a shot. YA fantasy: Taniya works in the royal stables where her stepfather Daret is the master. Her mother is ill, so Taniya rides her mother's horse in the annual festival parade. Throughout the parade and festival, she is torn between worrying over her mother, drooling over the handsome prince, Kanar, and dreaming of one day being one of the King's mounted warriors.

    Last line of chapter one:
    As Taniya made her way back to the pavilion that had been set up for the horses, Daret’s groom came running toward her. “Taniya!” he cried. “Come quick. A messenger came for you and Daret. Your mother is worse, and she needs you!”

    Allison Duke
    Follow me on Twitter - @PinkDreamInk

  7. This is the last line of Chapter 1 of my long contemporary historical (1959-74) women's fiction. It's about the growing-up and eventual happy ending of a little girl who could've been the one who inspired the famous Four Seasons' song "Rag Doll." Five-year-old Adicia and four of her five sisters are coming home after an uptown shopping trip for back to school supplies. Sarah is their surrogate mother, an exploited live-in nanny and servant whom their parents pay barely anything.

    Adicia watches the subway pulling into the station with apprehension. Even if the people back in her home neighborhood won’t laugh at her for being poor, she hates to leave the nice part of the city, where she isn’t surrounded by old, run-down buildings and people who have lost hope of moving up in life. When she takes a seat with Sarah and her sisters, she feels the Upper West Side disappearing behind her and the run-down Lower East Side coming back. If only she could be as confident as Ernestine that this life isn’t going to be forever and that when they’re older, they’ll be able to leave this far behind.

  8. I tried posting this last Friday. See if it will go through today...

    SET UP: This is Urban Fantasy, the 3rd book in series. Sabrina has walked out of marriage cerimony to Vasyl, (vampire) and they have a little discussion when he comes to her house. He makes her realize that she isn't quite over her last love--who died--and that she needs to get over him, so he's going to give her time to mend.

    Then, her brother comes to the door,(Vasyl vanishes), and announces that their cousin has gone missing. Sabrina wants to help out and asks him to take her where she was last seen. She has to change, of course, because she's still in a wedding gown. Her brother wouldn't know anything about her becoming a bride to a vampire. None of her relatives knows about her secret life.

    So he asks her "What's with the wedding gown?"

    "Uh, just trying it on for size." {last line of the first chapter)

  9. Some great examples!

    Allison - you might want to give the groom a name. He sounds familiar with Taniya and the way you've written it here sounds distant, and that would distract me as a reader. But this ending definitely keeps things moving.

    Carrieann - very evocative. You've chosen a challenging PoV style, but I'm definitely interested.

    Lorelei - Very cute. Always good to end a chapter with a touch of humor!

  10. Found this on a retweet from twitter!

    Set up: YA Contemporary. Ruby, 18, is a fangirl in a certain graphic novel fandom. She and a friend post an amateur video on their website that goes viral. Ruby has just watched the video (again) after learning the success of the film.

    Last line: A shift has taken place and if I’m ready or not, that fan video represents the nine minutes and thirty-eight seconds that changed my life.

  11. Anna told me about this via twitter!

    (Dean's senior year starts with a school bus ride, sitting with the unusual Brahms twins. Val drops a card with an image of a broken tower, and he asks what it means.)

    Val took the tarot card and stuck it back into her purse with the others. She grinned at me, a fox’s smile with too many teeth.
    “Utter chaos.”

  12. Set up: A Young Adult Dystopian where the main character, Justin, has to fight immortal overlords to save his sister.

    End of chapter: Crouching, I scanned the alley, then raced into the dark.

  13. Wow... GREAT examples. Friday I will select three via and then you can comment. Thank you everyone for the great examples.