Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Memorable Lines

So I started writing a new story today. The idea had been banging around in my skull for a couple weeks, then the story woke up roaring today. It starts out with a kicker of a first line, which made me want to jump up and say, "Hell yeah!"

But I was in the waiting room at Tyler's doctor. So I didn't.

There I was. Taking sips from my water bottle under the No Food Or Drink sign and listening to a dismal procession of top 40s on the office radio. I put my earbuds in and pulled out my writer's notebook.

I wrote a line as a gray, solid woman entered the room. She signed in at the front desk. Her loud tones were audible over my equally loud music, but I couldn't understand what she said. She proceeded to start a conversation with the gentleman to her left as another man came in to wait. He signed in and then sat down to join the conversation. The three of them then had a very loud and lively exchange about . . . something. I don't know what, because I couldn't hear the specifics. I could hear them though, which was surprising, not only because people are usually pretty reserved in waiting rooms, but my music was pretty loud.

I crossed off the first first line and wrote a second first line. And that was the good one. Overwhelmed with triumph, I looked around briefly to see who knew how awesome I was.

Nobody noticed. I wonder what they were talking about. Probably Obamacare. Or alligators. It was hard to tell based on their gestures. I wonder if these people were writers. Or even readers. I wonder if they like speculative fiction. I wonder if any of them watch The Walking Dead, or Firefly.

I wonder if any of them have read Ray Bradbury or Neil Gaiman. What would their favorite books be? At this point I feel like Bob Wiley in What About Bob? guessing Dr. Marvin's family names. "Oh wait, let me guess. I'm very good at this. That's Harriet. And then Ronny, Gretchen, and Rita. Err. . . wait, wait a second. Cecilia. Dorothy. And this is Kenneth and Bambi."

Oh wait, let me guess. I'm very good at this. Bridges of Madison County. Ben Hur. Slaughterhouse-Five and Eat. Pray. Love. Err . . . wait, wait a second. Twilight. the Attack of the Clones novelization. Yoga for Cats and Gone With The Wind. 

What was even the point of this post? Oh yeah, memorable lines. So I wrote the first line, and it was awesome. Then I wrote four lines after it. It was one of those moments when you say, "Wow, I'm pretty good at this." I wanted to stand up and read my first line to the waiting room. But their heated conversation about modern cinema (?) was too involved.

Call me Ishmael.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Happy families are all alike . . .
All this happened, more or less.
You better not never tell nobody but God.

I suppose I don't just mean first lines. I mean lines that stick out out. A line you remember years after reading it. Here's my favorite line ever. The first time I read it I was eight. And I knew Bradbury's wizardry was something I wanted to learn. It's from A Sound of Thunder:

"The meat settled, quivering."

Holy crap. That's an amazing line.

What have been your most memorable lines?


  1. I love that you "...looked around briefly to see who knew how awesome I was." I do that all the time! Usually late at night, baby is asleep, I'm alone in my room working on a painting and when I do something amazing I look around like, "I can't believe no one saw that."
    I have many favorite lines, they come in and out of my memory and it's hard to grab them right now, but I always remember: "The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone."

  2. Ooooooh, good one Miss Hobbit. Love it!

    And just so you know, you're always welcome to text me anytime and say, "How awesome am I?" and I'll write back, "Hella awesome, babe."

  3. I always think you're awesome! :) Let's see, favorite lines... "This story begins within the walls of a castle, with the birth of a mouse."

  4. Stop writing so good I have work to do!!! lol I looked around to see if anyone knew how awesome I was. I bust up LOLing. ... Can lol-ing be a term? Well geez now I just wanna read more.

    I never paid attention to first lines before... so I don't have any input. And I have bad memory. The ONLY one I can think of is, "I Nephi having been born of goodly parents..." well, that's great. I can't even finish it.

    That's a creepy picture.


What do you think?