oh. em. gee.

There is nothing more irritating to me, in the writing life, than beating my head against the final line of a story over and over again, arranging and rearranging the most insignificant details in an attempt to get it in tune. “A” or “the”? “Ghosted” or “ghosting”? Comma or no comma?

At least I figured out fairly quickly that the reason I didn’t like any of my ending lines was because I’d passed the right one already. Now I just need to get it to sing.

0 Responses to “oh. em. gee.”

  1. innerslytherin

    That’s frustrating, but it’s a little better than doing that with the first line, right? 😉

    • Marie Brennan

      I dunno — I seem to get more obsessive about last lines. It’s a rare reader who will quit after only the first line of a story (first page, yes), but the closing line is like the last chord of a song. If it’s weak, the whole thing ends up feeling weak.

      • innerslytherin

        That’s a good point. I know when I’m ‘beta-reading’ for someone, whether it’s fanfic or original fic, I tend to notice the last line more than the first. (And a lot of times I pick at the last line myself.)

        But I think endings come more naturally to me than first lines, so maybe that’s why I originally commented the way I did. *grin*

  2. diatryma

    I’m doing a bit of that with Killer Robot Unicorns in Space. The first line I like, which ties in with the last line in a way which is not as clever as I think it is, is part of a two-page infodump kicking off the story. I cannot start with action and keep this line.

    Also, because you are my go-to person for all things Lymond, I have to keep calling the story KRUiS because the actual title, “Safely Me Deliver,” puts me back into that particularly intense brainspace and I do not have the energy for it. Even reading the teasers for your Lymondfest posts is enough. I probably should reread the books.

    • Marie Brennan

      The posts should be at least marginally comprehensible, even if the books aren’t fresh in your mind.

      But who am I kidding? Yes, of course you should reread the books! <evil grin>

      • diatryma

        That particular brainspace is not… it is not conducive to working on things which are not Lymond. It’s good, because it comes along with many good books, but it’s not easy to sustain for long.

        Last lines also carry the weight of being last lines. I’ve read and written sentences which would be normal, workaday strings of words save that they ended with white space and THE END. Many a sentence crumbles under the pressure.

        • Marie Brennan

          Many a sentence crumbles under the pressure.

          This is very true.

          And I hear you on the Lymond thing; remember, one of the reasons for the book-blogging was an attempt on my part to exorcise that effect by anatomizing it. Otherwise I read Dunnett and then can’t get anything done.

          • diatryma

            (unholy *gods* this story’s beginning is made of suck)

            I think I am overthinking my attachment to Dunnett. I am overthinking everything lately. It’s a coping strategy. I’m trying to teach myself that acknowledging a mistake does not fix it and that making a to-do list does not finish anything. Sigh.

            (whyyy did I decide to do this?)

          • Marie Brennan

            Deep breath.


            Maybe turn on some bright lights.

            (And don’t read Pawn in Frankincense, if you decide to pick up some Dunnett.)

            Avoid PiF, and it’ll all be okay.

          • diatryma

            I don’t own Pawn yet– I bought the first three with Christmas money, knowing that I’d want them someday, but not the last three. They’re on my to-buy list, certainly, but I couldn’t convince myself to spend all my Christmas book money on one author. It ended up being three Dunnetts, one Carol Berg, and a couple calendars.

            I am freaking out rather more dramatically via text than in physical space. I shall try to tone it down, lest you worry.

          • Marie Brennan

            Eh, if venting helps, vent away.

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