I’m reading the first book I’ve read in a while that has quotable lines.
A character hearing voices says, “I’m going out of my mind.” to which the voice replies. “Good. It’s getting crowded in here.”
Okay, it’s not “tis a far far better thing”. It’s more along the lines of “You’re turning into a penguin. Stop it!” But still, it’s fun, it’s memorable, and it leaps out at the reader.
How in the heck do you do this as a writer?
I have a feeling it’s deliberate, that such lines are not written by accident. After all, a good author will parse sentence by sentence, tweaking each til its the best it can possibly be.
But there’s a spontaneity to it as well. This particular book has a playful nature, so I can totally see it as being the result of a riff on the character that just flows naturally.
I think this is a level of writing I have yet to get to, if I’m being honest. Maybe it’s happened once or twice by accident, but all the other times I’ve tried to make it happen it seems forced. I could make the claim since I’m more of a genre writer than a literary one, that quotability is not important, but the book I’m reading is clearly a genre piece, and a genre satire at that.
Good lines are original. They speak from a specific character viewpoint, or the author’s view. And they’re fresh, or recycled in an ironic way. They can be at the beginning of a scene, the end, or scattered throughout the middle.
Maybe it’s just good prose, but I don’t know. It seems to be something special, just a little bit bent, or different.
If I figure it out I’ll let you know.
What are some of your favorite lines?