Play time: Favorite Lines

When we write, we have favorite lines, lines that make us think we’re awesome. Maybe even brilliant. For me, these are inevitably the lines I end up removing during the editing process. You’ve heard of “kill your babies” or “kill your darlings”? I’m basically a mass murderer.

But occasionally a few lines survive the brutal editorial process and make it into the final book. They’re almost always the quiet moments in the story — my favorite moments. No one else may even notice them at all, but I know they’re there.

Today, I want to see your favorite lines. Not necessarily your best lines, just the ones that speak to you. That make you warm inside. Try to keep them short — just a few sentences or one short paragraph if you can.

If you’re not a writer, feel free to pick lines from a book you love. (Not the best, most famous lines, though — unless they’re also your favorites.)

From Above World, here’s a quiet moment I added during a revision that, for some reason, I love. It’s from Hoku’s point of view:

At night, they cooked and ate around their campfire. He loved the flames. Not just the flickering light, but the way it drew them together around its circumference. Fire had a gravity all its own.

Come, play with me!


Comments

Puppykin 6 years ago .

Okay, I just got this one from Deb’s WIDE OPEN. Hallie talking to Maker:

“Don’t you have things to do? People to…uh, harbinge.”

(and yes I’ll do mine in a minute)

    Jenn Reese 6 years ago .

    Ha, that’s from DEEP DOWN, not WIDE OPEN. But it’s a great line.

      Puppykin 6 years ago .

      Right. DEEP DOWN, that’s what I meant!

        Deb 6 years ago .

        That’s a BRILLIANT line!

        Oh…wait :)

Deb 6 years ago .

Ok, this is one of my favorites, from ‘How to Hide Your Heart’:

“When you’re growing up and you’re out there on the plains, you think that’s how everyone sees the world—wide open. Because nothing hides out there. Unless you figure out how to hide it in plain sight. Which you do. You put the most valuable thing you have in the most visible place you know and then you pretend it doesn’t matter. That’s how you hide in the open.”

From WIDE OPEN, I’m pretty sure my favorite line is:

Goddamnit!

Or maybe:

Jesus.

One of those :)

Kin of Bunnies 6 years ago .

Okay, this from WINTERLING. What I like to call “pretty writing.”

Alongside the narrow path, ferns crowded in. Fer crouched. In the moonlight, the ferns were graceful dark curls edged with silver, their smell sharp and green. She touched one and it unfurled under her fingers.
“It’s spring,” she whispered. Along with the ferns, bloodroot poked from the dead leaves, its flowers closed up tight against the night. And toadshade, and tender wild geranium. Around a rotting tree stump on the other side of the path grew soft moss and tiny toadstools that glowed white under the moon, like buttons. Fer stroked the moss. It felt springy and prickly under her hand. Rook had turned on the path ahead, waiting. “It wasn’t spring before,” she said, “and now it is. It’s like magic.”
“It is magic,” Rook answered, his voice rough against the soft night. “It comes from her. From the Lady.”

Greg van Eekhout 6 years ago .

I like this game!

I’m picking this moment from Kid vs. Squid, when I feel Thatcher’s identity as a jokey kid to whom ridiculous stuff happens dovetails into who he becomes: a brave kid who chooses to be a hero when ridiculous stuff happens to him:

“I’ve got something you didn’t have,” I said, proudly raising the mighty blade of volcanic glass. “An ancient sword of Atlantis.”

She rose to her feet. “Oh, Thatcher. That is not a sword. That is an implement used for the gardening of kelp.”

Oh.

Well.

Whatever.

It was still sharp.

    A Young-Person’s Guide to Wrestling Cephalopods 6 years ago .

    Greg, Theo LOVESLOVESLOVES that line. The kelp-farming implement! I could read it aloud to him right now and he’d laugh.

    In fact, he’s here now, and…

      Greg van Eekhout 6 years ago .

      THEO IS MY FAVORITE READER!!!!

      I wish I could stand over every reader’s shoulder and make sure they’re, like, getting how clever my writing is. In case they’re not seeing it for themselves. I’m willing to badger them, if necessary.

        Theo’s Mom 6 years ago .

        Okay, I have a new favorite line, from OSTEOMANCER’S SON:

        “Our bodies are cauldrons,” he said, “and we become the magic we consume.”

        Yow.

    An 6 years ago .

    Ahaha, I love it.

Rachel Heslin 6 years ago .

The book is Winter and Night, by SJ Rozan. The scene revolves around a man agonizing over his decision as a teenager to report his abusive father to the police, resulting in his dad’s conviction and incarceration. He’d done it in hopes that his runaway sister would come home, but instead she attacked him for betraying the family and disappeared. (I don’t have the book in front of me, so the lead up to the final line may be somewhat paraphrased.) Bill, our protagonist, has just asked an old friend of his uncle’s who’d supported him back then if he thought Bill had done the right thing, sending his own father to jail:

“You did the right thing.”
“But it didn’t work. She didn’t come home.”
“Since when was that the judge?”

An 6 years ago .

From All That Touches The Air:

Endria was in the canteen, sitting on a table, watching a slow-wave newsfeed from Earth and nibbling on a finger sandwich, and I was annoyed to run into her there. I was also annoyed that it took me that long to run into her, after trying to run into her in the library, the courthouse auditorium, the promenade and my lab.

Endria just annoyed me.

Cat Knutsson 6 years ago .

Oh, I like this! This is my favorite bit from THE SHADOWS CAST BY STARS:

The cottage watches us with wary eyes. It knows we’re leaving and as if to reinforce that point, three ravens fly overhead, a trio of black periods in the sky. Dot, dot, dot. What happens now…

Billy Bones 6 years ago .

From Billy Bones: The Road to Nevermore:

Through Houndstooth-onCodswattle they came, scores of skeletons, clattering into the graveyard next to St. Dunstable’s. In it’s long history, the blocky Norman church had never seen such an unusual flock.

Sally Felt 6 years ago .

I love this game. When I’m reading, sometimes I flag pages that made me go “oooh,” and then copy the excerpts into a special journal. Paging through that journal always gives me goosebumps.

Often, what makes the moments special depends on the story in which they’re embedded. For example, Jenn, your excerpt works nicely on it’s own, but most of its “oooh” factor comes from knowing Hoku lived most of his life Below World, making fire a very new wonder for him. Experiencing it through his eyes makes it a fresh experience for me, too, and that’s an oooh. :)

Sally Felt 6 years ago .

Here’s one from HADES’ PUPIL as my heroine meets the god of the Underworld and protests her husband was taken before his time…

“I quite agree,” Hades said without a trace of irony. “He’s much too young. But you saw my gallery, did you not? All those portraits? It’s a proud tradition, taking things of beauty before their time. I find it adds a certain–,” he made a flourish with his bejeweled fingers as if summoning the right word to him, “–a certain bittersweet quality. Bitter for you, perhaps. Sweet for me.”

Jenn Reese 6 years ago .

I need to add a line from Above World: Book 2. This one is from Aluna’s POV, when she and her horse Tal vault into a glorious gallop:

They were wind over sand. They were sunlight on the surface of the ocean.

Shelley 6 years ago .

My current darling from the mini-series I’m wrestling with:

“The events of the past day bedamned; for a much-needed moment, Jeffrey has the mother he needs.”

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