In a recent Washington Post article, “The 23 most unforgettable last sentences in fiction,”
the book critic Ron Charles cites some of the most enticing, satisfying, and even disruptive concluding sentences written in novels throughout history. But surprise, surprise, dear writers—some of these final “sentences” are actually questions—questions that serve as final bows and leave readers on the edge of their seats.
Take, for example, the following final lines:
- “Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?” – Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
- “‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Isn’t it pretty to think so?’”—The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
- “Are there any questions?” – The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
For this prompt, take a crack at crafting a concluding question of your own. Compose a 100-word story, and then think about how you might conjure a question that leaves readers with something to ponder. Will you address your audience directly, as Ellison does? Or will your question be directed towards a character in your story, as in Hemingway’s? Perhaps both?