The Art of a Sentence

When I’m reading a book, there is no better feeling than when I come across a sentence that takes my breath away.

I know you know the type. That sentence that is so profound, or lyrical, or speaks to you in that very moment in such a way that you have to read it again, just to take it all in.

I’m the same way with song lyrics. I can dislike most of a song, but hear one line and listen to the whole thing just to hear it.

Those sentences (or sometimes even phrases) are ones that you commit to memory and say out loud. They’re the sentences, if you’re anything like me, that you write in a notebook to remember and reread when you need a little inspiration.

Lines like: “What a slut time is, she screws everyone.” from John Green’s The Fault in our Stars.

Or: “We must all make the choice between what is right and what is easy.” From Harry Potter.

That’s why I enjoy this Buzzfeed list so much.

Yes, Buzzfeed. I know that it likely spells the death of my profession as these clickbait articles end up taking away jobs from real writers and reporters…. but this list.

Here’s the link.

It includes 51 of the most beautiful lines in literature, as compiled by the author. And I have to agree with a few of them.

For example:

“The curve of your lips rewrite history,”

from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same,” from Wuthering Heights.

“The half life of love is forever,” from Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her.

“It frightened him to think of what must have gone to the making of her eyes,” from Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence.

And my personal favorite on the list (and one of my favorite literary quotes, period): “So, we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” from The Great Gatsby.

And the thing is, I’ve only read two of the books I picked quotes from (Gatsby and The Age of Innocence). But a good line is a good line. And those lines make me want to read those books, to be honest.

What I’ve come to discover is that writing that contains profound lines like those I’ve listed above contains more lines like that. It makes the novel that much more fun to read, looking for those lines that will stick with you.

It doesn’t hurt either that I’m a bit of a romantic (can you tell??), so lines that are beautiful and romantic are fun for me to read. I try to imagine someone reading those lines to me or maybe including them in a love letter to me.

Writing a beautiful sentence is an art. To create something profound like the sentences I’ve included above takes great emotion, which you can hear in the words as you say them out loud. You feel the emotion the author was feeling as they wrote the words.

Those words were not written by an empty, cold heart. They were written by people who were living a strong emotion and having a response which was translated into paper and permeates the decades and centuries.

It makes them all the more beautiful.


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