Sunday, July 11, 2010


"Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar."
E.B. White*

Today is the 151st anniversary of the publishing of Charles Dickens' novel "A Tale of Two Cities." How's this for an opening sentence: 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair ...'.

It does two things I think good writing should do, grabs you and makes you want more, and stands the test of time. Dickens did have that ability didn't he?

This morning while reading my favorite blogs, I was struck by some really great sentences. Sentences that made me think, I wish I'd said that! I'm not sure if they will be quite as powerful if taken out of context but here are some that I think are worthy of winning a Best Sentence Award. In fact, I hereby declare them all winners.

"Dive bombing swarming masses and swirling clouds of feed frenzied Wisconsin mosquitoes ..." Qn Dani, Being Queen

"There is nothing like the arrival of a newborn baby to remind us of the value of human life. There is nothing like a long-overdue rainstorm to renew our appreciation for the gift of water." Pamela Stead Jones

"Her time sculpted face was etched in brown dignity. " Maithri, Soaring Impulse

"Fear doesn’t work. It doesn’t keep us safe. It doesn’t resolve problems. It just makes
us frightened." Jon Katz, Bedlam Farm Journal

"my heart hasn't changed. it's only deepened in a good way. and it's a good heart." Terri, Honor Yourself

"Then across the skies the clouds clear to make way for that magical light that is liquid sunshine. There, right then, is the moment when chaos subsides. When the soaked earth releases its redolent, pungent smell of life." Tessa, An Aerial Armadillo

Sometimes the putting of words together almost makes me swoon.

Today is E.B White's, of Charlotte's Web fame, birthday. Here's a quote from that sweet book:

“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”

“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die .... By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heavens knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”

Wishing for you something good to read and something to lift your life a trifle,

Merry ME


Molly said...

It's always uplifting when I see your posts in my reader. Hope you had a peaceful weekend.

Anonymous said...

I love this post...
I get hung up on those great sentences, too, and Charlotte's Web is full of them. Madeliene L'Engle said that if you've got a great idea, but people wouldn't understand it, then you write it for children. Too true, too true.
Thanks for the post!

Pamela Jones said...

Loved this post about sentences! And dreamphemera -- Madeleine L'Engle? How about "I hate you, God...Love, Madeleine."

Let's all go write some good sentences!

Thank you, Mary, for your love of the printed word! It's infectious.