Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WRITER WEDNESDAY: The Last Line of The First Chapters

In my continued effort to examine the successes of several YA novels, I thought I'd showcase something besides the "opening sentences" and "last lines" of my favorite books.

This week I'm going to cover the last line of the first chapter (or prologue). That inevitable point where a reader is either going to keep going, or put your book down ... possibly forever. I'm a huge fan of the cliffhanger, whether it's physical or emotional. Or, in the case of The Hunger Games ... even just a name.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (J.K. Rowling)
He couldn't now that at this very moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: "To Harry Potter - the boy who lived!"

Hush Hush (Becca Fitzpatrick)
The air resonated with the boy's low laughter.

Fallen (Lauren Kate)
Then there was nothing, nothing at all.

Paranormalcy (Kiersten White)
Where did they come up with this stuff?

Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare)
"Tessa put a hand to the clockwork angel at her throat, taking comfort in its steady ticking, as the carriage lurched forward into the rain. "

Incarceron (Catherine Fisher)
"Well done, brother," he said.

The Maze Runner (James Dashner)
"Nice to meet ya, shank," the boy said. "Welcome to the Glade."

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
It's Primrose Everdeen

And (just for the heck of it) here's the last line in the first chapter of my WIP:
And then it stopped.

Which ones are your favorite, and share from your manuscript below!


  1. I love short chapters that have a cliffhanger ending. It always gets me to turn the next page, although, I have a hard time doing this in my own writing. And I love the Harry Potter one. I mean, who doesn't? My own: "The words were in English."

  2. These were all great! I think I liked Hush, Hush and The Hunger Game best out of the ones you listed. I like yours too :-)

    The last line from my WIP is: The beach was empty.

  3. Nicole, interesting!! Definitely gives you a sense of this not being a normal place or time.

  4. Kelly, love that! I love beach scenes :) Empty or not!

  5. Harry Potter and the Hunger Games- especially, of course we're gonna rush on to see what happens with the MC's little sister!:)

  6. The Hunger Games line is probably one of my all time favorites. From my works...

    BLOOD BOND w/ Yelena Casale: "What the hell else could happen?"

    My WIP: When the light faded and the world righted itself once more, Sera collapsed.

  7. Love that line from THG, it really resonates. By this time we know Prim fairly well, so we're almost as worried as Katniss is.

    While I always enjoyed the opening chapter of HP1, there was always a nagging part of me that doesn't like how that scene is 3rd omniscient and the rest is third limited (until one of the later books, when another omniscient pov is included). It made me think the narrator would be telling the story, so I was surprised to find the next chapter was strictly from Harry's pov.

  8. The Boy Who Lived still leaves me with chills lol. What a hook!

  9. I love that line in The Hunger Games. So powerful.

    My novel: "Even kill."

  10. I wanted to comment all day, but can't do so from my work computer. GRRR! I like your line, Nikki. Great post - that last line of first chapter is such a tipping point. Do we go on begrudgingly or not (I just can't bring myself to stop after only 1 chapter).

    Last line, first chapter for current WIP:
    I'll explain later.

  11. Oh, I get shivers from Hunger Games only bc of how important it is!!

    Last line from my current WIP:
    "I wasn't going to be able to fix my girlfriend"

  12. I love Brian Yansky's "Alien Invasion & Other Inconveniences" last sentence in Chapter 1:
    The Earth is no longer ours.

    My last line, first chapter of ENCOUNTERS:
    No matter how hard she struggled, he dragged them both up towards the flaming surface of the river.

  13. Tere, I agree. The first chapter of HP (which is really a prologue disguised as a first chapter) is a little tough to get through. Especially since it's all adult POV - hard for a middle grader to get into!

  14. "To Harry Potter - the boy who lived." Fabulous words that say it all. Great post.

    Mine: "I promise."

  15. Love the post. Orson Scott Card always said end your chapters in a way that isn't a cliff hanger but keeps the reader reading. something unusual.

    Mine: He liked me fine before his sister died.

  16. I haven't read it yet, but I liked the Harry Potter ending sentence.

    Here's mine: She quickly turned and sprinted out of the bathroom to catch up with our sisters.


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