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First sentence, last sentence

Dear Loyal Reader:

I have written about the opening sentence of a story. It can be (should be) like a key that opens a box of treasures. But the last sentence of a book is equally important. If the first sentence opens things, the last sentence should close things—like a lock—with a satisfying click.

So, here is a true story. Most mornings I get up early (say 6 AM). It is my domestic chore to set up the coffee for my wife and me.  The caffeine is essential.

So, yesterday, that’s what I did.


Later in the day as I was working on my new book, struggling to get the right ending, I fell asleep at my computer. 

Not a good sign. 

I decided I needed caffeine. I got out the coffee beans and was ready to grind them when, to my horror, I discovered we had been drinking decaffeinated coffee. Good grief! It was like going to the movies and having a blank screen to stare at. No wonder I couldn’t get that ending right.

Got out some real beans and made real coffee. Hurrah! Sat down at my computer and wrote a satisfying ending. Click! Hurrah again!

But wait! I have long believed you can’t write a good book before you write a good ending. That conclusion informs—if you will—the whole book. Which means, once you have that ending, you can, you must, go back over the whole thing. My experience is that you will find a million things (big and small) to rewrite, so the whole book coalesces in a unified work.

Which is what I did—and am continuing to do. Better beginning. Better middle. Better end. Better book.

Of course, if and when the book is published, you can decide whether that cup of coffee, real coffee, really worked.


Your wide awake author,


6 thoughts on “First sentence, last sentence”

  1. I love reading your posts. This is wonderful. I hope you keep writing your books and these posts for years and years. Thank you.

  2. Hello and thanks for sharing your story! It is wonderful to have such insights from you that can be shared with writers of reading of all ages. Your advice to go back after the final sentence that seems ‘just right’ to lock it all up is a perfect lesson to share with young authors in our classrooms!

  3. Your posts are always so interesting and inspiring. Thank you. I don’t drink coffee or most anything with caffeine. Your post makes me wonder if, after 70 some years, I should re-consider. Ha.

  4. During your first visit to my school years ago, I shared with you my personal acronym for achieving optimal writing conditions: S.C.O.R.E.

    Comfort / Coffee
    Outlet (for your ideas and/or your computer)
    Restroom (nearby)
    Energy / Enthusiasm

    For me, having a combination of these five increases the potential for better writing. Glad to know coffee is high on your list as well!

  5. I think of first/last sentences as bookends. When in doubt, I go back to read the first sentence and then I know how to seal the deal.
    And decaffeinated coffee should be outlawed IMO. 😛

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