I wish I’d written that!

If the thought, “I wish I’d written that!” hits me while reading a book, I smack my forehead and write the sentence in my writer’s journal.

Figurative Language

In one section of my writer’s journal, I keep an ever-growing list of favorite lines from the books I read. They are sentences I want to read again and study. Some are examples of good use of description, as is the case with the sentence I quote from a David Ignatius novel in today’s blog. Some sentences get added to my list because they present a clever turn of a phrase that results in a line that rolls off the tongue. Others might be examples of metaphor, hyperbole (e.g., “I smack my forehead”), imagery, or another tool that makes language so pleasant to read or say aloud. These sentences grab my attention for a variety of reasons. I stop and reread them. I appreciate the effort it took for the author to write them. They are sentences I wish I had written.

A quote from The Director, by David Ignatius:

“She was a handsome woman, all her features fused into a hard, dark jewel: the lustrous jet-black hair that maintained its perpetual youthful color, the intelligent face that kept its smile even when she was demolishing a bureaucratic opponent; the lithe body of a former dancer.”

Let’s look at it

What a sentence! For starters, “handsome woman” is a description I rarely hear, but it is usually used to describe a tall, sturdy woman with regular features. The words, “handsome woman” immediately bring to mind a woman of a certain physical presence. She carries herself well even though she is not a young woman. She doesn’t quite fit the definition of “pretty,” but she has pleasant, memorable features. It’s one of those things that is difficult to describe, but I know it when I see it.

The rest of the above sentence written by David Ignatius is chock-full of descriptive words that paint a picture of this woman.

Read this sentence from The Director again:

“She was a handsome woman, all her features fused into a hard, dark jewel: the lustrous jet-black hair that maintained its perpetual youthful color, the intelligent face that kept its smile even when she was demolishing a bureaucratic opponent; the lithe body of a former dancer.”

You have no trouble picturing in your mind what this woman looks like, do you? I wish I’d written it.

Until my next blog post in a few days, my wish for you is that you have a good book to read and, if you are a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

Janet

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