Lines to Love
There are few things I adore more than a well-crafted sentence. I had been told once, by Mrs. McGrath, my Freshman English teacher, that if I truly wanted to be a good writer, I first had to become a good reader. I have put this wise advice into practice. As a matter of fact, when I read a book, I sit with little strips of post-it notes to stick on the pages by the lines (and in some cases, paragraphs) that particularly touch my heart. Then when I finish the book, I record those lines in a journal(s) maintained for that specific purpose. This works rather well, except for those times when I get so engrossed in the book I’m reading I forget to mark the portions that are fantastic (most recently, Deanna Raybourn’s second installation in her Veronica Speedwell series, A Perilous Undertaking).
Writing down the lines that speak particularly to me is an excellent exercise. I think it has helped me grow not only as a writer, but also as a person because I am taking the time to listen to my heart (as it were). After recording the sentences in my notebook, I’m afforded the opportunity to read through them outside of the plot and learn precisely what I appreciate so entirely about them. Oftentimes, the lines flow, possessing similar aspects, whether chronicling profound truths voiced eloquently, or embodying pure wit and humor, or evoking beauty in description, or, on occasion, purveying the joy of writing as a craft.
Here are a few that set my heart on a merry jig.
I love a well crafted metaphor. I offer this one as case in point, the delightful Juliana Gray a.k.a. Beatriz Williams:
“A flow of pure oxygen swept through Olympia’s chest, awakening each atom of bone and muscle and cartilage, blowing away the ennui in a single gust and filling his empty sails with air.”
~ Juliana Gray, The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match
Or Raybourn and her eloquence:
“The truth is a hard mirror, and I am in no mood to look upon my reflection.”
~ Deanna Raybourn, A Curious Beginning
Or Beatriz Williams, a.k.a. Juliana Gray, and her visceral approach:
“He closed his eyes and sat absolutely still, waiting out the storm, tracking its arc in the strength of her sobs, the pace, until bit by bit she blew herself out, ebbing and ebbing, a final gust and quietude, except for the low parabolic roars of the passing cars.”
~ Beatriz Williams, Tiny Little Thing
Similes are great as well. I find them a little easier to approach, but, as with anything imagery oriented, Koontz makes me take pause and appreciate the correlation:
“The rain wasn’t the usual glittery silver, but dark and dirty, as if nature were a scrubwoman wringing out a filthy mop.”
~ Dean Koontz, False Memory
And, then there’s Morgenstern and her poetic brilliance:
One cannot forget Kate Quinn. This simile is superb (as is the rest of the book from which is comes):
“It’s just like falling in love, that kind of hatred. It feels the same, that sick swoop in your stomach, but it’s all poisoned and upside down.”
~ Kate Quinn, The Lady of the Eternal City
I adore this line by Willig, whose works are chock full of these sorts of literary gems. She never- EVER- fails to bring a smile to my lips, and she certainly knows how to make intelligentsia witty and fun:
“In the end they went with the cloaks, which also had the benefit of being both there and theirs.”
~ Lauren Willig, The Lure of the Moonflower
Then there are the times when an author can craft romance with a delicate and passionate hand, transporting the reader, faithfully demonstrating the majesty of love:
“The sound of his name on her tongue was even more intoxicating than he had imagined, and he leans in to taste it.”
~ Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus
“Khalid kissed her, melding nothing to everything.”
~ Renée Ahdieh, The Wrath and the Dawn
I could go on and on about each and every line and why I love them, but I’ll stop myself and simply give you a few more that are too superb not to mention:
“I looked at my sleeping companion, the features drawn by a creator in a harsh mood, with no softness to spare.”
~ Deanna Raybourn, A Curious Beginning
“I am sorry to say that my own fair sex proved far less generous with her, a judgment firmly footed in the lair of envy.”
~ Tasha Alexander, The Adventuress
“In life, great and terrible secrets are usually revealed not when you’re searching for them, but when you least expect them and are unprepared.”
~ Dean Koontz, The City
“Water clung to his lashes, making his eyes appear star-kissed.”
~ Karen White, On Folly Beach
“It was the year A.D. 453 and Attila the Hun was dead from a bad nosebleed.”
~ Michael A. Babcock, The Night Attila Died
Have you ever come across a line in literature that you, quite simply, adore? It doesn't have to be from some renowned literary tome to be good. In fact, some of the greatest lines come from children’s books. Case in point: “It is more fun to talk with people who don’t use long, difficult words, but rather short, easy words like, ‘What about lunch?’” ~ A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh.
What about you? What are some of the lines you’ve read that you love?