A Line from Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith

It is one of those lines I wish I had written. There is a saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In this case, 22 words can conjure up many mental pictures.

“Their moral compass had been neglected for so long that it spun out of control:  north was south and east was west.” That is a memorable line from Child 44, by Tom Rob Smith. (Incidentally, I wrote about my general impressions of Child 44 in my October 4, 2016 blog post, What I read in September.)

The 2016 US Presidential Election

That line from Child 44 was written about two fictional Russian characters in 1953, but they could have just as easily been penned about the 2016 US Presidential election. Truth became a casualty of this race a long 16 months ago. The election will be over in a few days. The fallout from the divisive campaign rhetoric will not quietly go away. But I digress.

Clever writing

A moral compass that has lost its bearings and is spinning out of control is a great visual. I had an inexpensive compass to play with when I was child. I would try to confuse it by turning it so when pointing to magnetic north it would point toward the “S” but I could never trick that compass. No matter what I did to it, I could not make it spin out of control. I could not make it settle on any direction but magnetic north.

One’s moral compass is more fragile and less dependable than a magnetic north compass. We have all heard of people who have lost their moral compass and committed violent crimes. The use of abusive language and mean-spirited lies (such as we have been subjected to in this year’s US Presidential election) also fall into this category. It is a sad and frightening thing to be exposed to a person who has lost his or her way.

“Their moral compass had been neglected for so long that it spun out of control:  north was south and east was west.” Sentences like that don’t happen in literature by happenstance. As an aspiring novelist, I look for such sentences when I read. Writers are taught not to write a sentence that will take the reader out of the story, but I can’t help but notice and appreciate certain phrases and sentences crafted by other writers.

Until my next blog post, I hope you have a good book to read. If you are a writer, I hope you have quality writing time. And if you are so inclined, please share my blog by clicking on one of the social media icons below.


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