Good morning Computer! Hi Readers!
Today I’m in search of the perfect sentence. You know that elusive structure that makes hearts flutter or breathing stop when you realize you’ve finally nailed the idea, the image, the moment just as it should be, and you’ve done it with your own fine prose.
Here’s an example–not mine, unfortunately, but one from a brilliant writer named Nabokov. “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.”
Feel the flutter inside your chest? Wonder how he did that? Me, too.
1) He didn’t waste a single word.
2) He didn’t use “over-the-top” words. He chose simple ones.
3) He set the tone and captured Humbert Humbert’s passion without “telling” us what that passion is.
4) He didn’t use one cliche. How diminished this line would be if he’d written. “I love Lolita more than anyone else in the world.”
5) He made the line sing. There’s rhythm and rhyme to it.
Here are some other favorites of mine.
“Her body moved with frankness that comes from solitary habits.” Kingsolver, Prodigal Summer
“I’m rich, famous, and if Esther really has left me, I’ll soon find someone to replace her.” Coelho, The Zahir
The following sample has a lot of sentences that knit together the emotional cloak of Marina’s story.
“What is left that is heartbreaking? Not death: death is ordinary. What is heartbreaking is the sight of a single gull lifting effortlessly from a street lamp. Its wings unfurl like silk scarves against the mauve sky, and Marina hears the rustle of its feathers. What is heartbreaking is that there is still beauty in the world.” Dean, The Madonnas of Lenningrad
What I’m Celebrating Today
- I can recognize those perfect sentences.
- I practice writing those perfect sentences.
- I can read those perfect sentences.
Quote for the Day
I think this is exactly what those “perfect” sentences do.
“Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” Hannah Arendt, Political Philosopher