That One Perfect Line

We all have our favorite lines…phrases that encapsulates the entire theme of a book into one fantastically written sentence.  If you’re like me, you find them rattling around in your head for weeks, months, even years later.

“Because this is what happens when you try to run from the past. It just doesn’t catch up, it overtakes … blotting out the future.” ~Sarah Dressen, JUST LISTEN

“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.”  ~Cormac McCarthy, ALL THE PRETTY HORSES

“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.”   ~John Green, LOOKING FOR ALASKA

It’s easy to point to these out in other people’s work. As writers we appreciate, even savor that truly awe-inspiring sentence and find ourselves dumbfounded by the profound depth they convey.  But when it comes to dissecting our own work, when we are cornered at a conference and asked to get the heart of our story in one compelling sentence, we often freeze, forgetting not only the name of our characters but the entire plot.

Today, as we start a whole new year of writing, I challenge you to read through your own WIP and find that one sentence that brings your entire manuscript to life.  I guarantee it’s in there, that awe-inspiring sentence that has you saying “Crap…I wrote that?”  Then share it here for the rest of us to marvel over. As encouragement, I will toss out one of my own.

 “The darkness would’ve scared me years ago, but not anymore.  If you couldn’t see it, then you didn’t know it was there to be afraid of.” ~untitled WIP


One thought on “That One Perfect Line”

  1. Interesting! I love these examples. I’m a bit spooked by my WIP right now, so I’m sharing instead some lines from my debut with Madelyn Rosenberg, Dream Boy.

    On the lyric side of things, there’s this:
    “If I were an onion and you pulled back the papery outside, you’d find layer after layer of eye-watering dreams. And in the center, where there’s that little curlicue of onion heart? There’d be a puff of smoke from the dreams that burned away.”

    On the more lighthearted end of the spectrum:
    “I was so relieved. He was making a joke. Sort of. And Talon was laughing. Sort of. At any rate, she threw a Cheeto at him, and everyone knows that throwing a Cheeto is a sign of friendship.” (To my mind at least, Dream Boy is about how friends find and know each other as much as it is about other things. Plus this line, which Madelyn wrote, has made me laugh every time I’ve come across it during our revisions–and that in and of itself makes it a favorite.)

    I’ve asked Madelyn to select her lines as well… and I can’t wait to see what she chooses.

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