A Turn of Phrase

It started with the movie and book The Last Unicorn. It has many great lines (I’m still learning how you put so many in one novel). I saw the movie for the first (far from only!) time when I was 8 and I still can quote parts of it:

“Never run from anything immortal. It only serves to attract their attention.”
“She will remember your heart when men are fairy tales in books written by rabbits.”
“There are no happy endings, because nothing ends.”

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And there are so many more. When I started writing, how could I not be impacted by such a story? I think every novel has a great line – at least one. It might happen deliberately or be crafted by inspiration (a.k.a. sheer luck). Every time I find one in my work, I find myself thinking “Did I write that?” 🙂 Below are a few of my favorites.

A Year in a Yurt

This work in progress (I’ve finished my part of the story and am waiting . . . patiently, for my husband to finish his. HINT HINT. Hopefully it will be out late this fall!) relates the experience of my husband and myself in deciding to sell our 200 year old home and move into a yurt (read “giant tent”) in Maine. It explains a bit of the rational as to why anyone would make THAT decision, as well as the construction, and subsequent adaptations (made by us mostly). I’m happy to say no one dies in this novel.

My favorite phrase comes early on while we are waiting for the pieces of our new tent-like home to arrive . . . via fedex:

“We paced the sun across the sky.”

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To me it captures the anxiety of that day. We were waiting for our yurt, the weekend called for rain and thunderstorms and we had only three days to put up the structure before Adam’s schedule pulled him away during any time I was free. All we knew was that the 7 boxes containing our yurt were “out for delivery” with no exact time of arrival and lots of worries of a canceled delivery until the following Monday. It was an anxious day.

Deliberate Actions

This is the novel I mentioned in my last post, which was written in one month. I’m in the process (slow at the moment due to other commitments) of rewriting it into Friends of my Enemies. (I love the story as it is, but as Brian mentioned in his post What do Writers Want, sometimes you know when your work wasn’t written for the public. If I want more than four people to enjoy this story, I have to rewrite it.) It is written in a far more literary tone than my currently available novel, Born of Water, with a more intricate plot, which the rewrite will further develop. There are a few things I know I’m keeping though in the new version. And some of them are lines.

One of my favorite comes when two of the primary main characters are facing differences based on personal opinion as well as a sense of duty. They are in love, and they are just realizing that feelings might not take precedent over obligations.

“He took another step down, trying to bridge the distance between them by shortening the physical one.”

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I like the sense of trying to reach out and close an emotional distance without being sure of how to accomplish it that the sentence conveys. You don’t need to know much more about that scene to know there are two people, who were once close, but are now in pain.

The line that always comes to me when I think of the novel comes near the end. For a story that begins with a Jane Austin like tone of moderation and propriety, the layers peel back through the novel to reveal a core crafted of an ancient theme: survival.

“Little impacts like demonic rain chased them across the courtyard.”

Born of Water

Born of Water is different, and not just because it is currently my only novel out for public consumption. It also doesn’t have phrases that stand out to me. Instead, there are scenes: The Curse attacking the sailboat, Darag sparring with Cuileann and Laireag while discussing Lavinia, the battle in the Temple of Dust, and the journey wandering the Great Desert of Ak’Ashanti. In a previous post where I shared an excerpt from Born of Water, I nearly chose the chapter spent in the desert. In the end, I decided it was too far along in the novel to be a good introduction to the characters. But when discussing scenes with lingering impact, I see no reason I can’t share!

It is one of those chapters that almost don’t feel like I wrote. Ty did. Writing it was one of those rare moments where his voice and view were clear in my head. I love the hopeless sense he has of being lost desert contrasted by intense highs and lows of hope and despair. And so I will end this post with a bit of that time.

“Ty swayed in his saddle. The heat that washed over him was hotter than any forge. It sent pinpricks across his skin in its wake. Heat rash, sunburn – both, Ty didn’t really think there were names for the agonies the desert sun and sand brought. Probably because no one survived, he thought miserably.
It was two days since the Temple of Dust. Would it be called the Temple Lake now, he wondered. A new home for Water Elementals like Niri, who have left the Church behind. The ground shimmered and moved sickeningly. Ty barely righted himself before he fell off his camel.
“Let’s stop here.”
It took him two tries to speak. Blinking his eyes just made it feel like the sand ground in deeper. There were only more dunes to see anyway and the sun, which was almost overhead. It was late to stop. Ty felt sorry for the women. He was asking a lot, pushing all of them. Stopping cost them time and slowed their pace. Only movement would get them through the desert.
Ria and Lavinia dismounted as their camels sank onto the sand. Without a word and with motions slower than the sun’s incremental journey of a day, they pulled out a cloth to erect a sunshade. Feeling no better himself, Ty fell more than dismounted and walked to where Niri’s camel was tied behind his.
She was oblivious to the world. He actually envied Niri that. After what she had done in the Temple, to the Temple, she had barely roused enough to eat or drink. She was light as feathers shaped into a woman when he lifted her down. He knew it was delirium born of the heat, but he dreamt often that Niri would evaporate like water under the desert sun. She was light enough that he half believed it.
The four of them sat in the meager shade as the brightest part of the day passed overhead. They baked like the strange twisted formations of glass that dotted the rolling dunes. The glass spirals had amazed him at first, until the day before. That was when he had seen the sun scorch the sand so intensely it had burst into flames. An inferno erupted only yards away from him, twirling and twisting skyward in a rising updraft. When it had burnt itself out, a tower of glass stood as a sentinel to the desert’s heat.
No doubt it froze solid last night. Ty sighed. He wasn’t sure which was worse. The heat of the day that burned the skin and lungs or the cold of the night that threatened to freeze him to death before morning so that he welcomed the sight of the sun as it rose. Until he felt its heat . . . . ”

Autumn

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