Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Novel Ideas

In November 2006, in honor of National Novel Writing Month, NPR asked fiction writers to explain the essence of creating a novel, from how they write to their approach to writer's block. For me though, the most entertaining part of each interview was when the author was asked to contribute a favorite sentence. Here are some of the delightful responses.

They were in one of the 'I' states when Zeke told Isaac he had to ride in the trunk for a little while. (Laura Lippman)

Ice is the past tense of water. (Rita Mae Brown)

All parents keep secrets from their children. (Scott Turow)

The sun broke golden on the surface of the pool, a thousand floating coins. (Lewis Buzbee)

Lyle is aware that he isn't right, and sometimes he feels his jaw, his face, making sure it isn’t becoming elongated in a cruel caricature of a sad man. (Kaui Hart Hemmings)

She stood, the water up to her ankles, and turned toward the sandy beach, toward the green sea grass and colorful umbrellas and blue smoke swirling from a beach fire and a boy selling cups of lemonade with ice chips, a woman in a purple bathing suit, and turned back to the blue water and pine trees on the far side of the lake, and behind that the green hills and white clouds against blue sky, the contrast a singular beauty; and now, somewhere behind her, a man was singing a song. (Nina Schuyler)

We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck. (M. T. Anderson)

Petra loved the stories filed neatly into the flow of train windows –- she had seen arguments in profile, mouths open with laughter or horror, noses squashed against glass. (Blue Balliett)

Ross Wakeman succeeded the first time he killed himself, but not the second or the third. (Jodi Picoult)

By now she knew that this life, despite all its pain, could be lived, that one must travel through it slowly; passing from the sunset to the penetrating odor of the stalks; from the infinite calm of the plain to the singing of a bird lost in the sky; yes, going from the sky to that deep reflection of it that she felt within her own breast, as an alert and living presence. (Geraldine Brooks)

And wasn't sorrow a kind of slow death anyway? (Gail Tsukiyama)

It was late in the fall and the trees lining our driveway had turned red like a row of burning matches. (Jess Walters)

In the end, the survivor gets to tell the story. (Nancy Werlin)

To Jane's surprise, a grilled cheese sandwich with chocolate milk was exactly what she wanted right then. (Jeanne Birdsall)

In 1954, the summer before I entered third grade, my grandmother mistook Andrew Imhof for a girl. (Curtis Sittenfeld)

Leaves of Grass saved my ass. (Gayle Brandeis)

The boy had probably been praying to a distinctly conceived God not to lose courage; he must have been simultaneously aware of the rush of time transporting him to the explosive instant; the patrons were sprinting along the lines of their own thoughts and personal dramas, their love affairs, their work conflicts, their sporting enthusiasms; the youth probably found his field of vision tightly narrowing once he made it past the guard into the pizzeria; inside they must have known immediately why a youth dressed as an Orthodox Jew would be rushing past the guard; he shouted, "Allahu Akbar!" reported the wounded, failed, severely questioned guard; they didn't see him press the trigger; the boy pressed the trigger (in his pocket, beneath his black coat?); this was followed by an ultima of total clarity in which the bomber and his victims saw every detail of every aspect of their environment crystallized into that minute and second of that day in the month of August in the year 2002. (Ken Kalfus)

Fall in love whenever you can. (Alice Hoffman)

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