A Paragraph then a Request

There is nothing more sensual, more enlightening, more surreal than someone in command of the English (or their own native) language.

I don’t mean “The King’s English”, or perfectly pitched tones and articulations. I’m talking about passages from books that, to the reader, are breathtaking.

Not every book is impressive like that. Readers look for different things in their reading material: convincing characters, landscapes you can get lost in, true love, lost love — the reasons to love a good book are endless. And I have read many books that are just plain great without getting overly wordy or ornate.

Previously I wrote a blog about how important opening paragraphs are to one’s writing, sharing the first paragraph from H.P. Lovecraft’s Call of the Cthulhu as a delightful setting for his story.

Recently I started reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Here is a paragraph that just caught me:

The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun, and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music, and the opera of voices pitches a key higher. Laughter is easier minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word. The groups change more swiftly, swell with new arrivals, dissolve and form in the same breath; already there are wanderers, confident girls who weave here and there among the stouter and more stable, become for a sharp, joyous moment the centre of a group, and then, excited with triumph, glide on through the sea-change of faces and voices and colour under the constantly changing light.

This paragraph describes the feel of one of Gatsby’s parties. You can just imagine yourself on the lawn behind a gigantic mansion, beauties and wannabes all vying for attention in the evening light.

It’s not easy to write sentences that will capture your audience. And not all novels are written with the same cadence, the same inferences and tone. What impresses me might not impress you. That’s the beauty of writing. Good writing.

Now to my request.

Do you have a paragraph from a book that just totally impresses the heck out of you? Something that inspires you, moves you, makes you want to read more?

Would you mind sharing it with the rest of us?

It’s something every writer strives for. No matter if it’s a novel, a letter to your grandma, or a description of yourself on Facebook, how you write it tells so much about you.

I would love to read what enchants you!

 

 

 

15 thoughts on “A Paragraph then a Request

      1. It is a great book, that I could quote all day, but since you beat me to it, I will add a passage from The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. Another one I could quote all day. 💓

        “Ordinary people waited till life disclosed to them its secrets, but to the few, to the elect, the mysteries of life were revealed before the veil was drawn away. Sometimes this was the effect of art, and chiefly of the art of literature, which dealt immediately with the passions and the intellect. But now and then a complex personality took the place and assumed the office of art, was indeed, in its way, a real work of art, life having its elaborate masterpieces, just as poetry has, or sculpture, or painting.” (p. 57)

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          1. haha You are funny! The writing in Wilde’s book is so gorgeous! There is a passage that describes insomnia like nothing I have ever read. Need to find it. You are welcome. Thank you! 📚

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  1. “You will have only one story,” she had said. “You’ll write your one story many ways. Don’t ever worry about story. You have only one.” ― Elizabeth Strout, My Name is Lucy Barton

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  2. As you know my home language is Dutch and it is just impossible to translate English text so that what is written still captures the same “ethos”, they can translate the text ofcourse but it is different, if you know what I mean. Most foreign books are translated by people from the Netherlands and they translate the text using typical expressions they only use in Holland. Example : when something is very easy they use the word ‘eitje’ which means small egg, it really annoys me a lot !!!

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    1. Ive heard the same thing about translations on the Netflix movie Squid Games, a Korean scary series. They say the translations aren’t quite right, taking away from the true angst and state of life of the participants. But as long as you have a book or two that impresses you with their writing style, that’s what counts.

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  3. I’m always bookmarking quotes in things that I read. I read something yesterday that I thought was really wonderful, but I’m not sure how to share it. The book is Out of Love. I’m going to figure out how I can share it without writing it out. I tried to add it to this but wasn’t allowed

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      1. I have the book on my ereader but it’s not allowing me to copy and paste. It’s about a relationship. I’m going to see what I can do

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  4. From one of my favourite books, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

    “Every book has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.” Page 3. It sets the tone of the book.

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