Memorable Words

Memorable Words

SOME PHRASES JUST STAY with us, make us pause, make us smile, make us feel a certain way. Their impact lingers well beyond the moment you first encounter them, much like the enduring resonance of an echo in an open space.

As writers, we’re in the business of words. We choose the exact right words in the exact right order. We evaluate, test, and try out words for the feel and the sound of each. We weigh the effect and the underlying meanings of the words and how they’re strung together, and when we’ve done it well, something “clicks” with us.

I’ve even cheered aloud after crafting a particular phrase or I’ve marveled when, during a revision, I realized that I had managed to craft a particular sentence that I loved.

Writing can be a daunting task, but it’s magical — almost addictive, to write an exquisite sentence, and there is a special joy in reading, rereading — and rewriting one.

What makes a sentence beautiful is largely subjective and they strike people differently. However, those shared and tallied highlights in books indicate that some sentences are more universally touching. There are qualities, definable or not, that make a sentence powerful or elegant or worthy of slowing to read it again.

To me, a beautiful sentence can be simple, its beauty lying in the life truth it reveals, the way it makes me contemplate or appreciate something in life in a new way. A gorgeous sentence may be complex or alluring within the context of the story, losing some of its appeal when it stands alone.

Getting lost in a story is one of my favorite parts of reading. A pleasing sentence offers a poignant image in the reader’s mind; it stirs emotions, draws connections we hadn’t thought of, and triggers a raised eyebrow.

Unexpected metaphors, startling juxtapositions, and creative descriptors can be what makes a sentence special. It’s truly fascinating to me: the way certain words, when strung together just right, can make someone experience or feel something profound.

Insanity hits different movies, and few of them are so good that most of your time you have no clue what you’re watching but somehow you feel you’re in good hands.

It’s a balancing act — like walking a tightrope, teetering between losing yourself and finding comfort in the knowledge that you’re capable of doing it.

As writers, we take the time to ponder and evaluate and select the word that really fits, that truly says what we want it to say. Like sculptors manipulate clay and carve stone, a writer’s medium is words. We mold and change shapes, structures, appearances; we experiment and reshape and rearrange words into sentences into paragraphs into stories. Along the way, we strive to put one good sentence in front of another, and hope to create some meaningful sentences along the way.

Here are a few sentences that struck me for various reasons – share your favorites from your own work or others.

“You can love someone, and still say goodbye to them. You can miss a person everyday, and still be glad that they’re no longer in your life”

— Tara Westover in Educated.


“She is rich in pauses, which she savors in her mouth.”

– Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale


“He wanted to twine himself in the tiny curlicues of her handwriting.”

– Celeste Ng Little Fires Everywhere


“Life is not about what you get, but what is taken from you. It’s in the things we lose that we discover what we most treasure.”

– Adriana Trigiani – The Shoemaker’s Wife


“When Mrs. Frederick C. Little’s second son was born, everybody noticed that he was not much bigger than a mouse.”

— E. B. White




150 150 Lisanne Swart
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