my favorite sentence

I mentioned this specific sentence in a post a while back, but I’m so fond of it I’m going to tell you about it again. This, dear friends, is my favorite written sentence:

“The Chinese man looked mysterious, and not just because he was Chinese.”

The sentence comes from a wonderful book by Martin Millar entitled Milk, Sulphate, and Alby Starvation. The beauty of this sentence, at least in my estimation, is how concisely it conveys so much. It paints a word picture, and really, how many sentences do so that effectively in so few words?

But this sentence isn’t great just because it’s sparse and utilitarian. There’s nothing wrong with being wordy, so long as the words mean something. It’s frustrating and even a little insulting to read a book or a story and get left with the impression that the author really wanted me to know that he knows lots of words so he filled his sentences with enough adjectives and adverbs to make a thesaurus jealous. I can find synonyms on Google just as easily as you can. I don’t care how many words you can write. I care how many meaningful words you can write, and if you can make me feel like every word you write is useful, none of them fillers, then you have my attention and my respect.

I try to hold myself to the same standard, but frankly, it’s hard. It requires re-writing. It’s the only way I know to whittle away the extra shit and leave a story with what’s needed–no more, no less. But good writing is re-writing, or so I’m told. This level of quality certainly isn’t going to happen in the first draft.

Clearly, this one sentence is a source of inspiration to me. It pushes me to better my own writing. It’s the stone against which I sharpen my knife.

How about you? Do you have a favorite sentence? One that inspires and motivates you as a writer? Feel free to share it in the comments.

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About Ash Martin
Ash Martin writes dark fantasy and horror, has a thing for classic monster legends, Nordic mythology, coffee, and sarcasm, and is currently working on multiple books.

2 Responses to my favorite sentence

  1. twindaddy says:

    Do you have a favorite sentence? Not really.

    One that inspires and motivates you as a writer? I really have no idea. I just like to write and hope someone else finds it interesting.

    Like

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