Sunday, August 30, 2009

Favorite sentences

I was just thinking about some of my favorite sentences ever. You know, those sentences that you read and you stop and think. Wow. That. Is. A. Great. Sentence. Then maybe, being a writer, your next thought is "I wish I had written that!"

(Every once in awhile I'm really proud of a sentence I have written too, but I am thinking today of sentences that I have read.)

Here are two of mine.

I love this one:

"I fear your argument is beguiled by ostentatious erudition."

Anyone know where that is from? I heard it, loved it, memorized it. It is Abigail Adams, to John Adams, telling him that his speech is too flowery, in the A&E movie John Adams. I don't know if that is a quote directly of hers or written by screenwriter Kirk Ellis. Darn, I should have asked him last year at the writers' conference where we met him....

A favorite first sentence for a novel. "Delirium brings comfort to the dying." The passage goes on to describe someone drowning in freezing water. It is written in first person by that drowning person which I have just now realized is not apparent in this sentence. I wonder if that was on purpose? (Dick Francis, by the way, guilty pleasure.)

I know I am not the only one who collects favorite sentences. They dont have to be FIRST sentences of novels, although they often are. That is the nature of first sentences I guess. We work especially carefully on those.

Any favorites come to mind?

2 comments:

Amy Tate said...

I love that! I would love to know how President Adams reponded, wouldn't you?

Sarah said...

I'm a huge Terry Pratchett fan, and this was always one of my favorites. The main character of *Going Postal*, Moist von Lipwig, is listening to engineers describe their work:

"Moist missed the rest of the sentence. Innocent words swirled in it like debris caught in a flood, occasionally bobbing to the surface and waving desperately before being pulled under again."