Guest Prompt From Gabriela Periera – Famous Last Words

This prompt…exercises your brain in a new way.

Today’s prompt comes from the Chief Instigator of the DIYMFA program, Gabriela Pereira. Always full of writer-craft goodness, you should definitely be checking out DIYMFA.com, always full of writer-craft goodness, and the wonderful weekly DIYMFA Radio podcast.

The Prompt

Famous Last Words

Most prompts give you a place to start and let you take things from there. Today we’re going to flip the equation. I’m going to give you a last line and you need to write toward it. In other words, your assignment will be to write a piece that leads you to that last line.

The reason this prompt is so useful is that it exercises your brain in a new way. As writers, we’re used to taking a kernel of an idea and running with it, but it’s a totally different proposition to have a fixed ending and finding your way to it.

You may someday find yourself in a situation where you need to use this skill, like if you know your ending but haven’t figured out yet how to get there. This prompt is great practice for doing just that.

Take the last line from your favorite book or choose one from the list below. Now write a short piece that ends with that line.

1. No one has claimed them yet.
2. “Let me tell you about it.”
3. Everything must go.
4. “Make me pretty.”
5. And it was still hot.

These are all last lines from actual books. Can you guess which books they came from? Answers are below.

1) From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
2) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
3) Feed by M.T. Anderson
4) Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
5) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Gabriela Pereira Author Pic
Gabriela Pereira, DIYMFA.com

Gabriela Pereira is the founder of DIY MFA, the do-it-yourself alternative to a Masters degree in writing. She is also a speaker, podcast host for DIY MFA Radio, and author of the forthcoming book DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community (Writer’s Digest Books, July 2016). For more info and email updates, sign up for her newsletter.

16 thoughts on “Guest Prompt From Gabriela Periera – Famous Last Words”

  1. I loved this prompt, and chose ‘Everything must go’ as my last line. Here’s a snippet from the completed flash fiction story:

    “For one, despite him being a dope, despite how he handed the tyke over as soon as I returned weary from a day at work, he was there. The product of what was once our love was cared for during the day without the need for an application, waiting list, and monthly fee. Our spawn was fine until I could clock out and drag myself home.

    When he left, I thought I could do it. I had supported three on one meager paycheck; why not two? It would be easier, I thought. Less stress.”

    I’m loving this challenge!

  2. Love this prompt, Gabriela! Rowling wrote the epilogue for her seven Harry Potter books before she even wrote Book One—and I think that turned out pretty well for her. (Although, she also planned on “scar” being the last word in her series, but she decided at the last minute to change it. That’s one of the great things about writing—you never quite know where you’re going to end up.) Thanks again and happy writing!

  3. I really love these prompts!! I’ve joined lots of “write every day” challenges, but never really liked the prompts. But these are great! Really looking forward to all the other prompts. (I’ll have to check out the other year’s prompts)

  4. To compensate for not writing a story yesterday, I decided to combine today’s two prompts! My ending line comes from The London Train by Tessa Hadley.

    Chantelle paced the floor, the clock struck midnight; boards creaked. He was late; he was never late. Outside the car was loaded, a siren wailed. She pulled the curtain back, no flashing lights. They’d planned this for weeks, her suggestion then his mind raced ahead. What would Marcel do? How would he react? She checked her watch again, rummaged through her handbag; passport, money, contraceptives. Palms damp with sweat; she still felt a chill. Footsteps approached, she listened; they stopped, the eerie hoot of an owl. The night ahead was a brimming dish she had to carry without spilling it.

  5. I used this prompt combined with two other prompts.
    1. Gabriela Periera’s Famous Last line prompt of May 3, 2016.
    2. 100 Word story prompt of Julie’s and combined with…
    3. Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s prompt from May 23, 2013- her cartoon of a dog and kitty on a rug/mat. And the caption “It wasn’t me”.

    Putting those all together made total fun!

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