I brood a lot about the last line of a story. I would love to write profound, inspirational end lines that transport my readers to some distant, post-reading Nirvana where they feel as if book slaves have fed them grapes, rubbed their feet and painted their toenails. I know I don't. My enders tend to be very short and pithy, usually made up of character dialogue or thoughts:
I'd just make more tea.
"Send my regrets."
That is all that matters now.
"Think about it, dimwit."
"Here we go again."
I'm not sure why I'm so skimpy with my last lines. I hate ending a story (obviously, or everything I write wouldn't grow nine heads and turn into a series on me) and I'm lousy at making farewell speeches. I go with what feels right for the scene and the story, which is all I think you can do when you're not particularly ender-gifted.
Other writers come up with some great last lines. Here are some that have resonated with me, turned me vivid green or kept me thinking long after I finished their books:
Altashheth. -- Anne Rice ended Servant of the Bones with this ancient Hebrew word, which translates to "do not destroy." This one is my all-time favorite ending line.
As for ghosts, they filled the streets. -- As they do the pages of Stalin's Ghost, Martin Cruz Smith's latest Arkady Renko novel. Pretty much perfection.
"Because you need me," he said, and Jennifer opened the door. -- Linda Howard sent another of her ender shockwaves through the romance community with this final line from Open Season. And she left us all to imagine what happens next. And I still mutter bitch under my breath every time I read it, too.
Destiny has given me something even better -- a lover as faithful as honor, in this life and in whatever may follow. -- I (heart) the ender from Talyn by Holly Lisle because it's elegant, true to the character and a lovely wrap-up of the entire story.
He seemed to me to have lived before his time and to have died before he was sufficiently understood." -- Wendy Moore ends her first book, The Knife Man, with that quotation from William Clift, the young apprentice/assistant of eighteenth century Scottish surgeon John Hunter. Hunter, the subject of the book, was a genius and a lunatic, and this odd homage ender seemed almost like an authorial apology.
How do you writers out there handle your final lines? What are some of your favorite enders?