Recently I was talking to Walter Jon Williams and Ted Chiang about writing, a conversation which came about because Walter taught a one-day intensive workshop in Seattle called "Plotting Backwards." Both Walter and Ted said the same thing: They write the last sentence of their stories first. In Walter's case, this even includes his novels.
This astonished me. (I am perpetually being astonished by my fellow SF authors, but that's another context.) Both of these fine writers not only know the endings of their stories before they begin, they know the exact last sentence toward which they are writing. This makes a certain kind of sense -- you don't start out driving in your car without some idea of where you're headed -- but I can no more do it than I could fly. I just can't see that far ahead. I write scene by scene, hoping each will lead me to the next, less like someone driving to a destination than someone fleeing a bear through a forest. However, I think I'd like to try Walter's and Ted's method. When I'm through the current novelistic forest, I'm going to write a short story and experiment.
So if you have any great last lines you think I should write toward, send them on!