Sentences Using Quotes

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This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.
Gary Provost
My name is Hazel. Augustus Waters was the great sat-crossed love of my life. Ours was an epic love story, and I won't be able to get more than a sentence into it without disappearing into a puddle of tears. Gus knew. Gus knows. I will not tell you our love story, because-like all real love stories-it will die with us, as it should. I'd hoped that he'd be eulogizing me, because there's no one I'd rather have..." I started crying. "Okay, how not to cry. How am I-okay. Okay." I took a few deep breaths and went back to the page. "I can't talk about our love story, so I will talk about math. I am not a mathematician, but I know this: There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There's .1 and .12 and .112 and infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a Bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.
John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)
As soon as we start putting our thoughts into words and sentences everything gets distorted, language is just no damn good—I use it because I have to, but I don’t put any trust in it. We never understand each other.
Marcel Duchamp
Some things you just can't explain. You don't even try. You don't know where to start. All your sentences would jumble up like a giant knot if you opened your mouth. Any words you used would come out wrong.
R.J. Palacio (Wonder (Wonder, #1))
Did you just use juxtaposition in a sentence?" "Yes, Sage" he said patiently. "We use it all the time with art, ... That, and I know how to use a dictionary
Richelle Mead (The Golden Lily (Bloodlines, #2))
Aunt Mercy put down her tiles, one at a time. I-T-C-H-I-N. Aunt Grace leaned closer to the board, squinting. "Mercy Lynne, you're cheatin' again! What kinda word is that? Use it in a sentence." "I'm itchin' ta have some a that white cake." "That's not how you spell it." At least one of them could spell. Aunt Grace pulled one of the tiles off the board. "There's no T in itchin'." Or not.
Margaret Stohl (Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1))
It's impossible to be the Mockingjay. Impossible to complete even this one sentence. Because now I know that everything I say will be directly taken out on Peeta. Result in his torture. But not his death, no, nothing so merciful as that. Snow will ensure that his life is much more worse than death. "Cut," I hear Cressida say quietly. "What's wrong with her?" Plutarch says under his breath. "She's figured out how Snow's using Peeta," says Finnick. There's something like a collective sigh of regret from that semicircle of people spread out before me. Because I know this now. Because there will never be a way for me to not know this again. Because, beyond the military disadvantage losing a entails, I am broken. Several sets of arms would embrace me. But in the end, the only person I truly want to comfort me is Haymitch, because he loves Peeta, too. I reach out for him and say something like his name and he's there, holding me and patting my back. "It's okay. It'll be okay, sweetheart." He sits me on a length of broken marble pillar and keeps an arm around me while I sob. "I can't do this anymore," I say. "I know," he says.
Suzanne Collins (Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3))
It is a frightful satire and an epigram on the modern age that the only use it knows for solitude is to make it a punishment, a jail sentence.
Søren Kierkegaard
I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English―it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them―then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.
Mark Twain
Reading activates and exercises the mind. Reading forces the mind to discriminate. From the beginning, readers have to recognize letters printed on the page, make them into words, the words into sentences, and the sentences into concepts. Reading pushes us to use our imagination and makes us more creatively inclined.
Ben Carson (Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence)
One day, maybe not in the next few weeks, but certainly in the conceivable future, someone will be able to refer to me without using the word 'arse' somewhere in the sentence.
Nick Hornby (High Fidelity)
Glenn used to say the reason you can't really imagine yourself being dead was that as soon as you say, 'I'll be dead,' you've said the word I, and so you're still alive inside the sentence. And that's how people got the idea of the immortality of the soul - it was a consequence of grammar.
Margaret Atwood (The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam, #2))
I wonder which is preferable, to walk around all your life swollen up with your own secrets until you burst from the pressure of them, or to have them sucked out of you, every paragraph, every sentence, every word of them, so at the end you're depleted of all that was once as precious to you as hoarded gold, as close to you as your skin - everything that was of the deepest importance to you, everything that made you cringe and wish to conceal, everything that belonged to you alone - and must spend the rest of your days like an empty sack flapping in the wind, an empty sack branded with a bright fluorescent label so that everyone will know what sort of secrets used to be inside you?
Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin)
The first sentence of the truth is always the hardest. Each of us had a first sentence, and most of us found the strength to say it out loud to someone who deserved to hear it. What we hoped, and what we found, was that the second sentence of the truth is always easier than the first, and the third sentence is even easier than that. Suddenly you are speaking the truth in paragraphs, in pages. The fear, the nervousness, is still there, but it is joined by a new confidence. All along, you've used the first sentence as a lock. But now you find that it's the key.
David Levithan (Two Boys Kissing)
Not going to walk me to the door?" I asked, pretending to be shocked at his lack of gallantry. "Of course I am. many would think that a bonny lass such as yerself wouldst be able to stay out of trouble for a distance of fifteen feet, but I know better." "Did you just use the words yerself and wouldst in the same sentence? You can't be a pirate and a courtier at the same time, Dev. It just isn't done.
Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Raised by Wolves (Raised by Wolves, #1))
We both grew so used to each other, so comfortable with the naturalness and ease of our friendship, that we became sloppy about keeping our relationship a secret. It was not that we were physically demonstrative or obviously in love, more that it had become impossible for us to hide our close involvement. We had gradually acquired the unmistakable air of old-love: finishing each other's sentences and speaking to each other with an offhand, presuming intimacy that was eventually noticed.
Kate Kerrigan (The Miracle of Grace)
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do To swell a progress, start a scene or two, Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool, Deferential, glad to be of use, Politic, cautious, and meticulous; Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; At times, indeed, almost ridiculous— Almost, at times, the Fool.
T.S. Eliot
I know my own reasons for keeping Peeta alive. He's my friend, and this is my way to defy the Capitol, to subvert its terrible Games. But if I had no real ties to him, what would make me want to save him, to choose him over myself? Certainly he is brave, but we have all been brave enough to survive a Games. There is that quality of goodness that's hard to overlook, but stil... and then I think of it, what Peeta can do so much better than the rest of us. He can use words. He obliterated the rest of the field at both interviews. And maybe it's because of that underlying goodness that he can move a crowd--no, a country--to his side with the turn of a simple sentence. I remember thinking that was the gift the leader of our revolution should have. Has Haymitch convinced the others of this? That Peeta's tongue would have far greater power against the Capitol than any physical strength the rest of us could claim? I don't know. It still seems like a really long leap for some of the tributes. I mean, we're talking about Johanna Mason here. But what other explanation can there be for their decided efforts to keep him alive?
Suzanne Collins (Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2))
I have come to believe that hard times are not just meaningless suffering and that something good might turn up at any moment. That's a big change for someone who used to come to in the morning feeling sentenced to another day of life. When I wake up today, there are lots of possibilities. I can hardly wait to see what's going to happen next.
Alcoholics Anonymous
142.—As it is the mark of great minds to say many things in a few words, so it is that of little minds to use many words to say nothing.
François de la Rochefoucauld (Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims)
The correct way to punctuate a sentence that states: "Of course it is none of my business, but -- " is to place a period after the word "but." Don't use excessive force in supplying such a moron with a period. Cutting his throat is only a momentary pleasure and is bound to get you talked about.
Robert A. Heinlein (Time Enough for Love)
What the semicolon's anxious supporters fret about is the tendency of contemporary writers to use a dash instead of a semicolon and thus precipitate the end of the world. Are they being alarmist?
Lynne Truss (Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation)
I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch's poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb.
R.L. LaFevers (Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1))
If I ask you to think about something, you can decide not to. But if I make you feel something? Now I have your attention.
Lisa Cron (Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence)
Wait,” he said. “That’s not a word.” I looked down to where, in a moment of desperation, I’d played zixic on a triple-word-score space. “Uh, sure it is.” “What’s it mean?” “It’s sort of like…quixotic, but with more…” “Bullshit?” I laughed out loud. I’d never heard him swear before. “More zeal. Hence the z.” “Uh-huh. Use it in a sentence.” “Um…’You are a zixic writer.’“ “I don’t believe this.” “That you’re zixic?” “That you’re trying to cheat at Scrabble.” He leaned back against my couch, shaking his head. “I mean, I was ready to accept the whole evil thing, but this is kind of extreme.
Richelle Mead (Succubus on Top (Georgina Kincaid, #2))
Assuming you can write clear English sentences, give up all worry about communication. If you want to communicate, use the telephone.
Richard Hugo (The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing)
Teachers're always using that "in your own words." I hate that. Authors knit their sentences tight. It's their job. Why make us unpick them, just to put it back together more shonkily? How're you s'posed to say Kapellmeister if you can't say Kapellmeister?
David Mitchell (Black Swan Green)
My name is Hazel. Augustus Waters was the great star-crossed love of my life. Ours was an epic love story, and I won't be able to get more than a sentence into it without disappearing into a puddle of tears. Gus knew. Gus knows. I will not tell you our love story, because-like all real love stories-it will die with us, as it should. I'd hoped that he'd be eulogizing me, because there's no one I'd rather have..." I started crying. "Okay, how not to cry. How am I-okay. Okay." I took a few deep breaths and went back to the page. "I can't talk about our love story, so I will talk about math. I am not a mathematician, but I know this: There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There's .1 and .12 and .112 and infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a Bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I'm likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.
John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)
Before there were books, we read each other.
Lisa Cron (Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence)
[When asked to use 'horticulture' in a sentence:] You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think.
Dorothy Parker (The Portable Dorothy Parker)
437.—We should not judge of a man's merit by his great abilities, but by the use he makes of them.
François de la Rochefoucauld (Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims)
I’ll take you home whenever you want,” he says. “But if you want to stay, and you wake up screaming, it’s okay. I’ll make sure you’re okay. And if you want to stay, and then change your mind, I don’t mind driving you back at four a.m.” I read once that not everyone thinks in words. I was shocked, imagining these other people who don’t use language to make sense of everyone and everything, who don’t automatically organize the world into chapters, pages, sentences. Looking into Charlie’s face, I understand it. The way a crush of feeling and feathery impressions can move through your body, bypassing your mind. How a person can know there’s something worth saying but have no concept of what exactly that is. I’m not thinking in words.
Emily Henry (Book Lovers)
Me, and thousands of others in this country like me, are half-baked, because we were never allowed to complete our schooling. Open our skulls, look in with a penlight, and you'll find an odd museum of ideas: sentences of history or mathematics remembered from school textbooks (no boy remembers his schooling like the one who was taken out of school, let me assure you), sentences about politics read in a newspaper while waiting for someone to come to an office, triangles and pyramids seen on the torn pages of the old geometry textbooks which every tea shop in this country uses to wrap its snacks in, bits of All India Radio news bulletins, things that drop into your mind, like lizards from the ceiling, in the half hour before falling asleep--all these ideas, half formed and half digested and half correct, mix up with other half-cooked ideas in your head, and I guess these half-formed ideas bugger one another, and make more half-formed ideas, and this is what you act on and live with.
Aravind Adiga (The White Tiger)
Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?
Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking-Glass)
Now lend me your ears. Here is Creative Writing 101: 1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. 2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for. 3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water. 4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action. 5. Start as close to the end as possible. 6. Be a sadist. No matter sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of. 7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia. 8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages. The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Good. Item seven. The had had and that that problem. Lady Cavendish, weren’t you working on this?’ Lady Cavendish stood up and gathered her thoughts. ‘Indeed. The uses of had had and that that have to be strictly controlled; they can interrupt the imaginotransference quite dramatically, causing readers to go back over the sentence in confusion, something we try to avoid.’ ‘Go on.’ ‘It’s mostly an unlicensed-usage problem. At the last count David Copperfield alone had had had had sixty three times, all but ten unapproved. Pilgrim’s Progress may also be a problem due to its had had/that that ratio.’ ‘So what’s the problem in Progress?’ ‘That that had that that ten times but had had had had only thrice. Increased had had usage had had to be overlooked, but not if the number exceeds that that that usage.’ ‘Hmm,’ said the Bellman, ‘I thought had had had had TGC’s approval for use in Dickens? What’s the problem?’ ‘Take the first had had and that that in the book by way of example,’ said Lady Cavendish. ‘You would have thought that that first had had had had good occasion to be seen as had, had you not? Had had had approval but had had had not; equally it is true to say that that that that had had approval but that that other that that had not.’ ‘So the problem with that other that that was that…?’ ‘That that other-other that that had had approval.’ ‘Okay’ said the Bellman, whose head was in danger of falling apart like a chocolate orange, ‘let me get this straight: David Copperfield, unlike Pilgrim’s Progress, had had had, had had had had. Had had had had TGC’s approval?’ There was a very long pause. ‘Right,’ said the Bellman with a sigh, ‘that’s it for the moment. I’ll be giving out assignments in ten minutes. Session’s over – and let’s be careful out there.
Jasper Fforde (The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next, #3))
The cause of our despair is the sentences at the back of our minds, all of which contain the word ‘should’. It shouldn’t have been… I shouldn’t have… It should be… These are the sentences that we need to avoid. We shouldn’t use ‘should’ too much.
Abhaidev (The Influencer: Speed Must Have a Limit)
Softie was not a word you could use in the same sentence as Eric.
Charlaine Harris
There's an old, frequently-used definition of insanity, which is "performing the same action over and over, expecting different results."... Now, I'm no doctor, but I am on TV. And in my professional opinion, George Bush is a paranoid schizophrenic. ... ...Other symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia are: Do you see things that aren't there? Such as a link between 9/11 and Iraq? Do you - do you feel things that you shouldn't be feeling, like a sense of accomplishment? Do you have trouble organizing words into a coherent sentence? Do you hear voices that aren't really there? Like, oh, I don't know, your imaginary friend, Jesus? Telling you to start a war in the Middle East. Well, guess what? There are a large number of people out there also suffering from the same delusions, because there are Republicans, there are conservatives, and then there are the Bushies. This is the 29 percent of Americans who still think he's doing "a heck of a job, Whitey." And I don't believe that it's coincidence that almost the same number of Americans - 25 percent - told a recent pollster that they believe that this year - this year, 2007 - would bring the Second Coming of Christ! I have a hunch these are the same people. Because, if you think that you're going to meet Jesus before they cancel "Ugly Betty," then you're used to doing things by faith. And if you have so much blind faith that you think this war is winnable, you're nuts and you shouldn't be allowed near a voting booth.
Bill Maher
Don't you think that's the main reason people find [writing] so difficult? If they can write complete sentences and can use a dictionary, isn't that the only reason they find writing hard: they don't know or care about anything?
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Bluebeard)
I will quote one sentence from this text, namely, the one with which it ended. It was also the sentence which finally dissolved the writer’s block that had inhibited the author from starting work. I have since used it whenever I myself have been gripped by fear of the blank sheet in front of me. It is infallible, and its effect is always the same: the knot unravels and a stream of words gushes out on to the virgin paper. It acts like a magic spell and I sometimes fancy it really is one. But, even if it isn’t the work of a sorcerer, it is certainly the most brilliant sentence any writer has ever devised. It runs: ‘This is where my story begins.’
Walter Moers (The City of Dreaming Books (Zamonia, #4))
Personally I think that grammar is a way to attain Beauty. When you speak, or read, or write, you can tell if you've spoken or read or written a fine sentence. You can recognise a well-tuned phrase or an elegant style. But when you are applying the rules of grammar skilfully, you ascend to another level of the beauty of language. When you use grammar you peel back the layers, to see how it is all put together, to see it quite naked, in a way.
Muriel Barbery (The Elegance of the Hedgehog)
The stars are out,' Zoe said. She was right. There were millions of them, with no city lights to ruin turn the sky orange. 'Amazing,' Bianca said. 'I've never actually seen the Milky Way.' 'This is nothing,' Zoe said. 'In the old days, there were more. Whole constellations have disappeared because of human light pollution.' 'You talk like you're not human,' I said. Zoe raised an eyebrow. "I am a Hunter. I care what happens to the wild places of the world. Can the same be said for thee?' 'For you,' Thalia corrected. 'Not thee.' 'But you use you for the beginning of a sentence.' 'And for the end,' Thalia said. 'No thou. No thee. Just you.' Zoe threw up her hands in exasperation. 'I hate this language. It changes too often!
Rick Riordan (The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #3))
Remember to never split an infinitive. The passive voice should never be used. Do not put statements in the negative form. Proofread carefully to see if you words out. And don't start a sentence with a conjugation.
William Safire (Fumblerules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is an indispensable companion to all those who are keen to make sense of life in an infinitely complex and confusing Universe, for though it cannot hope to be useful or informative on all matters, it does at least make the reassuring claim, that where it is inaccurate it is at least definitively inaccurate. In cases of major discrepancy it's always reality that's got it wrong. This was the gist of the notice. It said "The Guide is definitive. Reality is frequently inaccurate." This has led to some interesting consequences. For instance, when the Editors of the Guide were sued by the families of those who had died as a result of taking the entry on the planet Tralal literally (it said "Ravenous Bugblatter Beasts often make a very good meal for visiting tourists: instead of "Ravenous Bugblatter Beasts often make a very good meal of visiting tourists"), they claimed that the first version of the sentence was the more aesthetically pleasing, summoned a qualified poet to testify under oath that beauty was truth, truth beauty and hoped thereby to prove that the guilty party in this case was Life itself for failing to be either beautiful or true. The judges concurred, and in a moving speech held that Life itself was in contempt of court, and duly confiscated it from all those there present before going off to enjoy a pleasant evening's ultragolf.
Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1))
Nothing makes Penstemon happier than handing a favorite book to someone who wants to read it. I’m the same. I suppose you could say this delights us although ‘delight’ is a word I rarely use. Delight seems insubstantial; happiness feels more grounded; ecstasy is what I shoot for; satisfaction is hardest to attain.
Louise Erdrich (The Sentence)
There are all kinds of pedants around with more time to read and imitate Lynne Truss and John Humphrys than to write poems, love-letters, novels and stories it seems. They whip out their Sharpies and take away and add apostrophes from public signs, shake their heads at prepositions which end sentences and mutter at split infinitives and misspellings, but do they bubble and froth and slobber and cream with joy at language? Do they ever let the tripping of the tips of their tongues against the tops of their teeth transport them to giddy euphoric bliss? Do they ever yoke impossible words together for the sound-sex of it? Do they use language to seduce, charm, excite, please, affirm and tickle those they talk to? Do they? I doubt it. They’re too farting busy sneering at a greengrocer’s less than perfect use of the apostrophe. Well sod them to Hades. They think they’re guardians of language. They’re no more guardians of language than the Kennel Club is the guardian of dogkind.
Stephen Fry
A newborn baby has a powerful effect on character. But so does a toddler. A child. A preteen. A teenager. A mother changes with every stage. Some stages are within a mother's skill set. Some stages are like being told to scale a cliff using a rope attached to nothing.
Louise Erdrich (The Sentence)
Do not put statements in the negative form. And don't start sentences with a conjunction. If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do. Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all. De-accession euphemisms. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
William Safire
Rosa Parks turned to me sweetly and asked, 'Now, Bryan, tell me who you are and what you're doing.' I looked at Ms. Carr to see if I had permission to speak, and she smiled and nodded at me. I then gave Ms. Parks my rap. 'Yes, ma'am. Well, I have a law project called the Equal Justice Initiative, and we're trying to help people on death row. We're trying to stop the death penalty, actually. We're trying to do something about prison conditions and excessive punishment. We want to free people who've been wrongly convicted. We want to end unfair sentences in criminal cases and stop racial bias in criminal justice...Ms. Parks leaned back smiling. 'Ooooh, honey, all that's going to make you tired, tired, tired.' We all laughed. I looked down, a little embarrassed. Then Ms. Carr leaned forward and put her finger in my face and talked o me just like my grandmother used to talk to me. She said, 'That's why you've got to be brave, brave, brave.' All three women nodded in silent agreement and for just a little while, they made me feel like a young prince.
Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy)
To use books rightly, is to go to them for help; to appeal to them when our own knowledge and power fail; to be led by them into wider sight and purer conception than our own, and to receive from them the united sentence of the judges and councils of all time, against our solitary and unstable opinions.
John Ruskin
Alec raised his eyebrows and looked very confused. "Wait. They don't mean it's okay, and that I don’t have to worry about it? Why would they say that if they don't mean it?" Nico shrugged. "I think it's some sort of mind trick. They use that sentence as an illusion that things between you are okay, but when you least expect it, they will strike like a cobra and wound your soul.
L.A. Casey (Alec (Slater Brothers #2))
I remembered the moment I read a novel for the first time. The texture of the soft paper touching my fingertips. The black letters blooming on a white field. The texture of the page I folded with my hands. 「 It isn’t important to read the letters. The important thing is where the letters lead you. 」 My mother, who loved books, used to say this. At least for me, it wasn’t just a saying. The gaps in the black print. My own little snow garden lay in between the letters. This space, which was too small for someone to go into, was a perfect place for a child who liked to hide. Every time a pleasant sound was heard, the letters stacked up like snow. In it, I became a hero. I had adventures, loved and dreamt. Thus, I read, read and read again. I remembered the first time I was about to finish a book. It was like being deprived of the world. The protagonist and supporting characters walked off with the sentence ‘They lived happily ever after’ and I was left alone at the end of the story. In my vanity and sense of betrayal, my young self struggled because I couldn’t stand the loneliness. 「This… is the end? 」 Perhaps it was similar to learning about death. For the first time, I realized that something was finite.
Singshong (Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint, Vol. 1)
Being in love with somebody that you only used to know is like falling in love with a book (which sounds like a dumb example but people really do fall in love with them). The point is: You can love it all you want, but it’s a story that runs parallel to yours. At the end of the day it’s static. It’s memory. It’s a sentence and you can’t change it. It ends how it ends. It says what it says.
Brianna Wiest (101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think)
Listen and learn: you need fourteen characters, minimum. Use random letters, not words. Here’s a tip: think of a sentence, and use the first letter in each of those words. Mix it up between upper and lower case. Then pick two numbers that mean something to you – not dates – and stick them somewhere between the letters. Put a punctuation mark at the beginning of the password and then a symbol, like a dollar sign, at the end.
Julie James (About That Night (FBI/US Attorney, #3))
But in the name of all that is holy, Mosca, of all the people you could have taken up with, why Eponymous Clent?" murmured Kohlrabi. Because I'd been hording words for years, buying them from peddlers and carving them secretly on bits of bark so I wouldn't forget them, and then he turned up using words like "epiphany" and "amaranth." Because I heard him talking in the marketplace, laying out sentences like a merchant rolling out rich silks. Because he made words and ideas dance like flames and something that was damp and dying came alive in my mind, the way it hadn't since they burned my father's books. Because he walked into Chough with stories from exciting places tangled around him like maypole streamers..." Mosca shrugged. "He's got a way with words.
Frances Hardinge (Fly by Night)
I guess that isn't the right word," she said. She was used to apologizing for her use of language. She had been encouraged to do a lot of that in school. Most white people in Midland City were insecure when they spoke, so they kept their sentences short and their words simple, in order to keep embarrassing mistakes to a minimum. Dwayne certainly did that. Patty certainly did that. This was because their English teachers would wince and cover their ears and give them flunking grades and so on whenever they failed to speak like English aristocrats before the First World War. Also: they were told that they were unworthy to speak or write their language if they couldn't love or understand incomprehensible novels and poems and plays about people long ago and far away, such as Ivanhoe.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Breakfast of Champions)
Isn't language loss a good thing, because fewer languages mean easier communication among the world's people? Perhaps, but it's a bad thing in other respects. Languages differ in structure and vocabulary, in how they express causation and feelings and personal responsibility, hence in how they shape our thoughts. There's no single purpose "best" language; instead, different languages are better suited for different purposes. For instance, it may not have been an accident that Plato and Aristotle wrote in Greek, while Kant wrote in German. The grammatical particles of those two languages, plus their ease in forming compound words, may have helped make them the preeminent languages of western philosophy. Another example, familiar to all of us who studied Latin, is that highly inflected languages (ones in which word endings suffice to indicate sentence structure) can use variations of word order to convey nuances impossible with English. Our English word order is severely constrained by having to serve as the main clue to sentence structure. If English becomes a world language, that won't be because English was necessarily the best language for diplomacy.
Jared Diamond (The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal)
Well, I'm glad you're so amused," I said, running my fingers across the railing. Maxon hopped up to sit on the railing, looking very relaxed. "You're always amusing. Get used to it." Hmm. He was almost being funny. "So...about what you said...," he started tentatively. "Which part? The part about me calling you names or fighting with my mom or saying food was my motivation?" I rolled my eyes. He laughed once. "The part about me being good..." "Oh. What about it?" Those few sentences suddenly seemed more embarrassing than anything else I'd said. I ducked my head down and twisted a piece of my dress. "I appreciate you making things look authentic, but you didn't need to go that far." My head snapped up. How could he think that? "Maxon, that wasn't for the sake of the show. If you had asked me a month ago what my honest opinion of you was, it would have been very different. But now I know you, and I know the truth, and you are everything I said you were. And more." He was quiet, but there was a small smile on his face. "Thank you," he finally said. "Anytime." Maxon cleared his throat. "He'll be lucky, too." He got down from his makeshift seat and walked to my side of the balcony. "Huh?" "Your boyfriend. When he comes to his senses and begs you to take him back," Maxon said matter-of-factly. I had to laugh. No such thing would happen in y world. "he's not my boyfriend anymore. And he made it pretty clear he was gone with me." Even I could hear the tiny bit of hope in my voice. "Not possible. He'll have seen you on TV by now and fallen for you all over again. Though, in my opinion, you're still much too good for the dog." Maxon spoke almost as if he was bored, like he'd seen this happen a million times. "Speaking of which!" he said a bit louder. "If you don't want me to be in love with you, you're going to have to stop looking so lovely. First thing tomorrow I'm having your maids sew some potato sacks together for you." I hit his arm. "Shut up, Maxon." "I'm not kidding. You're too beautiful for your own good. Once you leave, we'll have to send some of the guards with you. You'll never survive on your own, poor thing." He said all this with mock pity. "I can't help it." I sighed. "One can never help being born into perfection." I fanned my face as if being so pretty was exhausting. "No, I don't suppose you can help it.
Kiera Cass (The Selection (The Selection, #1))
This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It's like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with the energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals - sounds that say listen to this, it is important.
Gary Provost (100 Ways to Improve Your Writing: Proven Professional Techniques for Writing With Style and Power)
Finally, don’t put on a Let’s Be Fair tone and say “But black people are racist too.” Because of course we’re all prejudiced (I can’t even stand some of my blood relatives, grasping, selfish folks), but racism is about the power of a group and in America it’s white folks who have that power. How? Well, white folks don’t get treated like shit in upper-class African-American communities and white folks don’t get denied bank loans or mortgages precisely because they are white and black juries don’t give white criminals worse sentences than black criminals for the same crime and black police officers don’t stop white folk for driving while white and black companies don’t choose not to hire somebody because their name sounds white and black teachers don’t tell white kids that they’re not smart enough to be doctors and black politicians don’t try some tricks to reduce the voting power of white folks through gerrymandering and advertising agencies don’t say they can’t use white models to advertise glamorous products because they are not considered “aspirational” by the “mainstream.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Americanah)
Saskia groaned again. She threw back her bed covers, the last vestiges of sleep leaving her. It would be evening in Lyon. Clarissa would be expecting to hear from her. A call-in at least once every 24 hours was part of several protocols Clarissa had established. The instruction at the end of the conversation, “Give the dogs a pat for me”, reassured Clarissa that all was well. Leave the words out, replace any one of the words in the sentence with another or not place a call in a 24-hour period, and Clarissa would alert authorities. In her younger years, Clarissa had served in the British army. Her experiences in those years had caused the trauma she now lived with, though she used her expertise by teaching her three partners basic self-defence, how to operate firearms and how to wield weapons. She also programmed their watches and phones to enable her to constantly track their whereabouts, explaining, “I want to know that my three charges are safe”. Another protocol was to always check accommodation venues for listening devices. Saskia did this before calling Clarissa. “Clarissa. Ça va?” “What have you to report?
Miriam Verbeek (The Forest: A new Saskia van Essen crime mystery thriller (Saskia van Essen mysteries))
People walk the paths of the gardens below, and the wind sings anthems in the hedges, and the big old cedars at the entrance to the maze creak. Marie-Laure imagines the electromagnetic waves traveling into and out of Michel’s machine, bending around them, just as Etienne used to describe, except now a thousand times more crisscross the air than when he lived - maybe a million times more. Torrents of text conversations, tides of cell conversations, of televisions programs, of e-mails, vast networks of fiber and wire interlaced above and beneath the city, passing through buildings, arcing between transmitters in Metro tunnels, between antennas atop buildings, from lampposts with cellular transmitters in them, commercials for Carrefour and Evian and prebaked toaster pastries flashing into space and back to earth again, I am going to be late and Maybe we should get reservations? and Pick up avocados and What did he say? and ten thousand I miss yous, fifty thousand I love yous, hate mail and appointment reminders and market updates, jewelry ads, coffee ads, furniture ads flying invisibly over the warrens of Paris, over the battlefields and tombs, over the Ardennes, over the Rhine, over Belgium and Denmark, over the scarred and ever-shifting landscape we call nations. And is it so hard to believe that souls might also travel those paths? That her father and Etienne and Madame Manec and the German boy named Werner Pfennig might harry the sky in flocks, like egrets, like terns, like starlings? That great shuttles of souls might fly about, faded but audible if you listen closely enough? They flow above the chimneys, ride the sidewalks, slip through your jacket and shirt and breastbone and lungs, and pass out through the other side, the air a library and the record of every life lived, every sentence spoken, every word transmitted still reverberating within it. Every hour, she thinks, someone for whom the war was memory falls out of the world. We rise again in the grass. In the flowers. In songs.
Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See)
i will learn how to love a person and then i will teach you and then we will know" seen from a great enough distance i cannot be seen i feel this as an extremely distinct sensation of feeling like shit; the effect of small children is that they use declarative sentences and then look at your face with an expression that says, ‘you will never do enough for the people you love’; i can feel the universe expanding and it feels like no one is trying hard enough the effect of this is an extremely shitty sensation of being the only person alive; i have been alone for a very long time it will take an extreme person to make me feel less alone the effect of being alone for a very long time is that i have been thinking very hard and learning about mortality, loneliness, people, society, and love; i am afraid that i am not learning fast enough; i can feel the universe expanding and it feels like no one has ever tried hard enough; when i cried in your room it was the effect of an extremely distinct sensation that ‘i am the only person alive,’ ‘i have not learned enough,’ and ‘i can feel the universe expanding and making things be further apart and it feels like a declarative sentence whose message is that we must try harder
Tao Lin
talk like that again! You’re not allowed to use the words ‘I’ and ‘die’ in the same sentence. You’re not allowed to die before me, ever! You think you couldn’t bear to lose our sons? Well, I couldn’t lose you and stay sane. Kitten, I know what life is without you. “If I died…” Shocked, Beth tried to stop his words, but his finger pressed against her lips, halting her words. “If I died,” he continued, “you would be strong enough to carry on and raise our children. Eventually, you would make it through life until we could be together again. Me, on the other hand, I am an asshole. If I couldn’t have you, then there wouldn’t be anything of me left to give anyone.
Jamie Begley (King (The VIP Room, #3))
Not long ago, I advertised for perverse rules of grammar, along the lines of "Remember to never split an infinitive" and "The passive voice should never be used." The notion of making a mistake while laying down rules ("Thimk," "We Never Make Misteaks") is highly unoriginal, and it turns out that English teachers have been circulating lists of fumblerules for years. As owner of the world's largest collection, and with thanks to scores of readers, let me pass along a bunch of these never-say-neverisms: * Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read. * Don't use no double negatives. * Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn't. * Reserve the apostrophe for it's proper use and omit it when its not needed. * Do not put statements in the negative form. * Verbs has to agree with their subjects. * No sentence fragments. * Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. * Avoid commas, that are not necessary. * If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing. * A writer must not shift your point of view. * Eschew dialect, irregardless. * And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. * Don't overuse exclamation marks!!! * Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents. * Writers should always hyphenate between syllables and avoid un-necessary hyph-ens. * Write all adverbial forms correct. * Don't use contractions in formal writing. * Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided. * It is incumbent on us to avoid archaisms. * If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is. * Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have snuck in the language. * Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixed metaphors. * Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. * Never, ever use repetitive redundancies. * Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing. * If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole. * Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration. * Don't string too many prepositional phrases together unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. * Always pick on the correct idiom. * "Avoid overuse of 'quotation "marks."'" * The adverb always follows the verb. * Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives." (New York Times, November 4, 1979; later also published in book form)
William Safire (Fumblerules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage)
No I am not Prince Hamlet nor was meant to be Am an attendant lord one that will do To swell a progress start a scene or two Advise the prince no doubt an easy tool Deferential glad to be of use Politic cautious and meticulous Full of high sentence but a bit obtuse At times indeed almost ridiculous— Almost at times the Fool. I grow old … I grow old … I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind Do I dare to eat a peach I shall wear white flannel trousers and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me. I have seen them riding seaward on the waves Combing the white hair of the waves blown back When the wind blows the water white and black. We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us and we drown.
T.S. Eliot (The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)
I’ll talk to my mother,” she promised. “If I’m sufficiently annoying, I’m sure I can get the engagement period cut in half.” “It makes me wonder,” he said. “As your future husband, should I be concerned by your use of the phrase if I’m sufficiently annoying?” “Not if you accede to all of my wishes.” “A sentence that concerns me even more,” he murmured. She did nothing but smile.
Julia Quinn (It's in His Kiss (Bridgertons, #7))
It is an old observation that the best writers sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric. When they do so, however, the reader will usually find in the sentence some compensating merit, attained at the cost of the violation. Unless he is certain of doing as well, he will probably do best to follow the rules. After he has learned, by their guidance, to write plain English adequate for everyday uses, let him look, for the secrets of style, to the study of the masters of literature.
William Strunk Jr. (The Elements Of Style)
I once defenestrated a guy. The cops got all pissed off at me. I was drunk, but they said that was no excuse." "Ah well," Virgil said. Then, "The guy hurt bad?" "Cracked his hip. Landed on a Prius. Really fucked up the Prius, too." "I can tell you, just now is the only time in my life I ever heard 'defenestration' used in a sentence," Virgil said. "It's a word you learn after you done it," Morton said. "Yup. The New Prague AmericInn, 2009." Virgil was amazed. "Really? The defenstration of New Prague?
John Sandford (Mad River (Virgil Flowers, #6))
Glenn used to say the reason you can't really imagine yourself being dead was that as soon as you say, "I'll be dead," you've said the word I, and so you're still alive inside the sentence. And that's how people got the idea of immortality of the soul - it was a consequence of grammar. And so was God, because as soon as there's a past tense, there has to be a past before the past, and you keep going back in time until you get to I don't know, and that's what God is. It's what you don't know - the dark, the hidden, the underside of the visible, and all because we have grammar ...
Margaret Atwood (MaddAddam (MaddAddam, #3))
I shouldn't have said it, but the word slipped out of my mouth as easy as air. it wasn't exactly the kind of work any well-behaved student would use, which sort of explained why I had just used it. And it certainly isn't the most elegant way to start off a story, but it honestly represents what I was feeling. Besides, I could have said something a lot stronger. But not everybody wants to read a story with those kinds of words and thoughts being expressed in the very first sentence. "Stop swearing," Jason screamed.
Obert Skye (Pillage (Pillage, #1))
If a man is only as good as his word, then I want to marry a man with a vocabulary like yours. The way you say dicey and delectable and octogenarian in the same sentence — that really turns me on. The way you describe the oranges in your backyard using anarchistic and intimate in the same breath. I would follow the legato and staccato of your tongue wrapping around your diction until listening become more like dreaming and dreaming became more like kissing you. I want to jump off the cliff of your voice into the suicide of your stream of consciousness. I want to visit the place in your heart where the wrong words die. I want to map it out with a dictionary and points of brilliant light until it looks more like a star chart than a strategy for communication. I want to see where your words are born. I want to find a pattern in the astrology. I want to memorize the scripts of your seductions. I want to live in the long-winded epics of your disappointments, in the haiku of your epiphanies. I want to know all the names you’ve given your desires. I want to find my name among them, ‘cause there is nothing more wrecking sexy than the right word. I want to thank whoever told you there was no such thing as a synonym. I want to throw a party for the heartbreak that turned you into a poet. And if it is true that a man is only as good as his word then, sweet jesus, let me be there the first time you are speechless, and all your explosive wisdom becomes a burning ball of sun in your throat, and all you can bring yourself to utter is, oh god, oh god.
Mindy Nettifee
I don’t have a gun and I don’t have even one wife and my sentences tend to go on and on and on, with all this syntax in them. Ernest Hemingway would have died rather than have syntax. Or semicolons. I use a whole lot of half-assed semicolons; there was one of them just now; that was a semicolon after “semicolons,” and another one after “now.” And another thing. Ernest Hemingway would have died rather than get old. And he did. He shot himself. A short sentence. Anything rather than a long sentence, a life sentence. Death sentences are short and very, very manly. Life sentences aren’t. They go on and on, all full of syntax and qualifying clauses and confusing references and getting old. And that brings up the real proof of what a mess I have made of being a man: I am not even young. Just about the time they finally started inventing women, I started getting old. And I went right on doing it. Shamelessly. I have allowed myself to get old and haven’t done one single thing about it, with a gun or anything.
Ursula K. Le Guin (The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader and the Imagination)
Between 1990 and 2005, a new prison opened in the United States every ten days. Prison growth and the resulting “prison-industrial complex”—the business interests that capitalize on prison construction—made imprisonment so profitable that millions of dollars were spent lobbying state legislators to keep expanding the use of incarceration to respond to just about any problem. Incarceration became the answer to everything—health care problems like drug addiction, poverty that had led someone to write a bad check, child behavioral disorders, managing the mentally disabled poor, even immigration issues generated responses from legislators that involved sending people to prison. Never before had so much lobbying money been spent to expand America’s prison population, block sentencing reforms, create new crime categories, and sustain the fear and anger that fuel mass incarceration than during the last twenty-five years in the United States.
Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy)
Being older, I began to understand the lyrics. At the beginning, it sounds like a guy is trying to get his girlfriend to secretly meet up with him at midnight. But it’s an odd place for a tryst, a hanging tree, where a man was hung for murder. The murderer’s lover must have had something to do with the killing, or maybe they were just going to punish her anyway, because his corpse called out for her to flee. That’s weird obviously, the talking-corpse bit, but it’s not until the third verse that “The Hanging Tree” begins to get unnerving. You realize the singer of the song is the dead murderer. He’s still in the hanging tree. And even though he told his lover to flee, he keeps asking if she’s coming to meet him. The phrase Where I told you to run, so we’d both be free is the most troubling because at first you think he’s talking about when he told her to flee, presumably to safety. But then you wonder if he meant for her to run to him. To death. In the final stanza, it’s clear that that’s what he was waiting for. His lover, with her rope necklace, hanging dead next to him in the tree. I used to think the murderer was the creepiest guy imaginable. Now, with a couple of trips to the Hunger Games under my belt, I decide not to judge him without knowing more details. Maybe his lover was already sentenced to death and he was trying to make it easier. To let her know he’d be waiting. Or maybe he thought the place he was leaving her was really worse than death. Didn’t I want to kill Peeta with that syringe to save him from the Capitol? Was that really my only option? Probably not, but I couldn’t think of another at the time.
Suzanne Collins (Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3))
Whatever language we speak, before we begin a sentence we have an almost infinite choice of words to use. A, The, They, Whereas, Having, Then, To, Bison, Ignorant, Since, Winnemucca, In, It, As . . . Any word of the immense vocabulary of English may begin an English sentence. As we speak or write the sentence, each word influences the choice of the next ― its syntactical function as noun, verb, adjective, etc., its person and number if a pronoun, its tense and number as a verb, etc. ,etc. And as the sentence goes on, the choices narrow, until the last word may very likely be the only one we can use.
Ursula K. Le Guin (Changing Planes)
We believe in the wrong things. That's what frustrates me the most. Not the lack of belief, but the belief in the wrong things. You want meaning? Well, the meanings are out there. We're just so damn good at reading them wrong. I don't think meaning is something that can be explained. You have to understand it on your own. It's like when you're starting to read. First, you learn the letters. Then, once you know what sounds the letters make, you use them to sound out words. You know that c-a-t leads to cat and d-o-g leads to dog. But then you have to make that extra leap, to understand that the word, the sound, the "cat" is connected to an actual cat , and that "dog" is connected to an actual dog. It's that leap, that understanding, that leads to meaning. And a lot of the time in life, we're still just sounding things out. We know the sentences and how to say them. We know the ideas and how to present them. We know the prayers and which words to say in what order. But that's only spelling" It's much harder to lie to someone's face. But. It is also much harder to tell the truth to someone's face. The indefatigable pursuit of an unattainable perfection, even though it consist in nothing more than in the pounding of an old piano, is what alone gives a meaning to our life on this unavailing star. (Logan Pearsall Smith) Being alone has nothing to do with how many people are around. (J.R. Moehringer) You could be standing a few feet away...I could have sat next to you on the subway, or brushed beside you as we went through the turnstiles. But whether or not you are here, you are here- because these words are for you, and they wouldn't exist is you weren't here in some way. At last I had it--the Christmas present I'd wanted all along, but hadn't realized. His words. The dream was obviously a sign: he was too enticing to resist. Wow. You must have a lot of faith in me. Which I appreciate. Even if I'm not sure I share it. I could do this on my own, and not freak out that I had no idea what waited for me on the other side of this night. Hope and belief. I'd always wanted hope, but never believed that I could have such an adventure on my own. That I could own it. And love it. But it happened. Because I'm So uncool and so afraid. If there was a clue, that meant the mystery was still intact I fear you may have outmatched me, because not I find these words have nowhere to go. It's hard to answer a question you haven't been asked. It's hard to show that you tried unless you end up succeeding. This was not a haystack. We were people, and people had ways of finding eachother. It was one of those moments when you feel the future so much that is humbles the present. Don't worry. It's your embarrassment at not having the thought that counts. You think fairy tales are only for girls? Here's ahint- ask yourself who wrote them. I assure you, it wasn't just the women. It's the great male fantasy- all it takes is one dance to know that she's the one. All it takes is the sound of her song from the tower, or a look at her sleeping face. And right away you know--this is the girl in your head, sleeping or dancing or singing in front of you. Yes, girls want their princes, but boys want their princesses just as much. And they don't want a very long courtship. They want to know immediately. Be careful what you;re doing, because no one is ever who you want them to be. And the less you really know them, the more likely you are to confuse them with the girl or boy in your head You should never wish for wishful thinking
Rachel Cohn (Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Dash & Lily, #1))
Pops: Plans for the future? Justin: Not sure yet. Pops: Well, why not? You don't got much longer in school, boy. Now's the time to figure things out, not later. Didn't anyone ever tel you that you can't spell later without the word late? Justin: I promise you, I'm doing my best to figure things out. Pops: "Doing my best" is a phrase failures use. Why don't you buy a man card and finish figuring? Me: Pops! That's so rude. Justin, I'm so sorry. Pops: What? How is a valid question rude? But all right, fine, I'll move on since baby boy can't take the heat. How about you finish this sentence for me, Jason? When a girl says no, she means... Justin, looking desperately at me: No? Nana: Are you not sure? Justin, shifting uncomfortably: I'm sure. No means no. Nana: Well, look at you. You got no right. Now here's another, even tougher sentence for you to finish. Premarital sex is... Me: Nana! I'm so sorry, Justin. Nana: Unlike Pops, I'm not moving on, Justin? Pops: His name is Jason. Justin: Uh...uh... Pops: While you think about that, why don't you tell me how you feel about drinking and driving? Justin: I'm totatlly against it, I swear! Nana: Methinks he protests too much.
Gena Showalter (Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles, #1))
But there was a discipline, it was just that we didn't understand. We thought he was formless, but I think now he was tormented by order, what was outside it. He tore apart the plot - see his music was immediately on top of his own life. Echoing. As if, when he was playing he was lost and hunting for the right accidental notes. Listening to him was like talking to Coleman. You were both changing direction with every sentence, sometimes in the middle, using each other as a springboard through the dark. You were moving so fast it was unimportant to finish and clear everything. He would be describing something in 27 ways. There was pain and gentleness everything jammed into each number.
Michael Ondaatje (Coming Through Slaughter)
When, as my friend suggested, I stand before Zeus (whether I die naturally, or under sentence of History)I will repeat all this that I have written as my defense.Many people spend their entire lives collecting stamps or old coins, or growing tulips. I am sure that Zius will be merciful toward people who have given themselves entirely to these hobbies, even though they are only amusing and pointless diversions. I shall say to him : "It is not my fault that you made me a poet, and that you gave me the gift of seeing simultaneously what was happening in Omaha and Prague, in the Baltic states and on the shores of the Arctic Ocean.I felt that if I did not use that gift my poetry would be tasteless to me and fame detestable. Forgive me." And perhaps Zeus, who does not call stamp-collectors and tulip-growers silly, will forgive.
Czesław Miłosz (The Captive Mind)
The alternative, should you, or any writer of English, choose to employ it (and who is to stop you?) is, by use of subordinate clause upon subordinate clause, which itself may be subordinated to those clauses that have gone before or after, to construct a sentence of such labyrinthine grammatical complexity that, like Theseus before you when he searched the dark Minoan mazes for that monstrous monster, half bull and half man, or rather half woman for it had been conceived from, or in, Pasiphae, herself within a Daedalian contraption of perverted invention, you must unravel a ball of grammatical yarn lest you wander for ever, amazed in the maze, searching through dark eternity for a full stop.
Mark Forsyth (The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase)
Things like "Everything happens for a reason" and "You'll become a stronger/kinder/more compassionate person because of this" brings out rage in grieving people. Nothing makes a person angrier than when they know they're being insulted but can't figure out how. It's not just erasing your current pain that makes words of comfort land so badly. There's a hidden subtext in those statements about becoming a better, kinder, and more compassionate because of your loss, that often-used phrase about knowing what's "truly important in life" now that you've learned how quickly life can change. The unspoken second half of the sentence in this case says you needed this somehow. It says that you weren't aware of what was important in life before this happened. It says that you weren't kind, compassionate, or aware enough in your life before this happened. That you needed this experience in order to develop or grow, that you needed this lesson in order to step into your "true path" in life. As though loss and hardship were the only ways to grow as a human being. As though pain were the only doorway to a better, deeper life, the only way to be truly compassionate and kind.
Megan Devine (It's OK That You're Not OK)
Sugar leans her chin against the knuckles of the hand that holds the pen. Glistening on the page between her silk-shrouded elbows lies an unfinished sentence. The heroine of her novel has just slashed the throat of a man. The problem is how, precisely, the blood will flow. Flow is too gentle a word; spill implies carelessness; spurt is out of the question because she has used the word already, in another context, a few lines earlier. Pour out implies that the man has some control over the matter, which he most emphatically doesn’t; leak is too feeble for the savagery of the injury she has inflicted upon him. Sugar closes her eyes and watches, in the lurid theatre of her mind, the blood issue from the slit neck. When Mrs Castaway’s warning bell sounds, she jerks in surprise. Hastily, she scrutinises her bedroom. Everything is neat and tidy. All her papers are hidden away, except for this single sheet on her writing-desk. Spew, she writes, having finally been given, by tardy Providence, the needful word.
Michel Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White)
Because I grew up around Danny and Phillip, I discovered the truth about the male language very early in life. What I learned is there are three basic responses that most guys will use when shouldered with the major task of having to answer the question, How do I look? by the fairer sex. Although I have never confirmed it, I am convinced that boys are taken aside in school, probably in fifth grade when the girls watch the film about getting their periods, and are taught the following three responses: You look like shit. (Translation: You look bad. Just go back to bed and start over tomorrow. I really shouldn't be seen with you like this.) You look fine. (Translation: You look good enough to be seen with.) You look hot. (Translation: I want you.) They also must teach them there is only one acceptable variation to these responses and to use it sparingly. The variation is simple. They just throw a REALLY into the sentence. The following are examples I have witnessed: JJ, you REALLY look like shit. (Translation: You must be very hung over, or sick, or having an extremely bad hair day. I really don't want to be seen with you.) REALLY, JJ, your hair looks fine. (Translation: Your hair looks the same to me as it always does, even though you spent an hour fixing it, so stop messing with it and lets go because you look good enough to be seen with.) And… (Insert cheerleader's name here) looks REALLY Hot. (Translation: I REALLY want her.)
Jillian Dodd (That Boy (That Boy, #1))
The Hierarch of Rak Urga drew himself up. “This is not a request, Urgit. I’m not asking you.” “Good. Because I’m not going.” “I command you to go.” “I don’t think so.” “Do you realize to whom you’re talking?” “Perfectly, old boy. You’re the same tiresome old Grolim who’s been boring me to tears ever since I inherited the throne from that fellow who used to chew on the carpets back in Rak Goska. Listen carefully, Agachak. I’ll use short words and simple sentences so I don’t confuse you. I am not going to Mallorea. I’ve never had any intention of going to Mallorea. There’s nothing I want to see in Mallorea. There’s nothing I want to do there. I most definitely do not intend to put myself anywhere near Kal Zakath, and he’s gone back to Mal Zeth. Not only that, they have demons in Mallorea. Have you ever seen a demon, Agachak?” “Once or twice,” the Hierarch replied sullenly. “Are you’re still going to Mallorea? Agachak, you’re as crazy as Taur Urgas was.
David Eddings (Sorceress of Darshiva (The Malloreon, #4))
I lay awake listening to the rain, and at first it was as pleasant to my ear and my mind as it had long been desired; but before I fell asleep it had become a majestic and finally a terrible thing, instead of a sweet sound and symbol. It was accusing and trying me and passing judgment. Long I lay still under the sentence, listening to the rain, and then at last listening to words which seemed to be spoken by a ghostly double beside me. He was muttering: The all-night rain puts out summer like a torch. In the heavy, black rain falling straight from invisible, dark sky to invisible, dark earth the heat of summer is annihilated, the splendour is dead, the summer is gone. The midnight rain buries it away where it has buried all sound but its own. I am alone in the dark still night, and my ear listens to the rain piping in the gutters and roaring softly in the trees of the world. Even so will the rain fall darkly upon the grass over the grave when my ears can hear it no more… The summer is gone, and never can it return. There will never be any summer any more, and I am weary of everything… I am alone. The truth is that the rain falls for ever and I am melting into it. Black and monotonously sounding is the midnight and solitude of the rain. In a little while or in an age – for it is all one – I shall know the full truth of the words I used to love, I knew not why, in my days of nature, in the days before the rain: ‘Blessed are the dead that the rain rains on.
Edward Thomas
Glenn used to say the reason you can't really imagine yourself being dead was that as soon as you say, "I'll be dead," you've said the word I, and so you're still alive inside the sentence. And that's how people got the idea of immortality of the soul - it was a consequence of grammar. And so was God, because as soon as there's a past tense, there has to be a past before the past, and you keep going back in time until you get to I don't know, and that's what God is. It's what you don't know - the dark, the hidden, the underside of the visible, and all because we have grammar, and grammar would be impossible without the FoxP2 gene; so God is a brain mutation, and that gene is the same one birds need for singing. So music is built in, Glenn said: It's knitted into us. It would be very hard to amputate it because it's an essential part of us, like water.
Margaret Atwood (The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam, #2))
She tries to maintain a nondescript exterior; she learns the sideways glance instead of looking at people directly. She speaks in practised, precise sentences so that she is not misunderstood. She chooses her words carefully, and if someone addresses her in Punjabi, she answers in Urdu, because an exchange in her mother tongue might be considered a promise of intimacy. She uses English for medical terms only, because she feels if she uses a word of English in her conversation she might be considered a bit forward. When she walks she walks with slightly hurried steps, as if she has an important but innocent appointment to keep. She avoids eye contact, she looks slightly over people’s heads as if looking out for somebody who might come into view at any moment. She doesn’t want anyone to think that she is alone and nobody is coming for her. She sidesteps even when she sees a boy half her age walking towards her, she walks around little puddles when she can easily leap over them; she thinks any act that involves stretching her legs might send the wrong signal. After all, this is not the kind of thing where you can leave your actions to subjective interpretations. She never eats in public. Putting something in your mouth is surely an invitation for someone to shove something horrible down your throat. If you show your hunger, you are obviously asking for something.
Mohammed Hanif (Our Lady of Alice Bhatti)
If I'm a bad person, you don't like me Well I guess I'll make my own way It's a circle A mean cycle I can't excite you anymore Where's your gavel? Your jury? What's my offense this time? You're not a judge but if you're gonna judge me Well sentence me to another life Don't wanna hear your sad songs I don't wanna feel your pain When you swear it's all my fault Cause you know we're not the same (no) We're not the same (no) Oh we're not the same Yeah the friends who stuck together We wrote our names in blood But I guess you can't accept that the change is good (hey) It's good (hey) It's good Well you treat me just like another stranger Well it's nice to meet you sir I guess I'll go I best be on my way out You treat me just like another stranger Well it's nice to meet you sir I guess I'll go I best be on my way out Ignorance is your new best friend Ignorance is your new best friend This is the best thing that could've happened Any longer and I wouldn't have made it It's not a war no, it's not a rapture I'm just a person but you can't take it The same tricks that, that once fooled me They won't get you anywhere I'm not the same kid from your memory Well now I can fend for myself Don't wanna hear your sad songs I don't wanna feel your pain When you swear it's all my fault Cause you know we're not the same (no) We're not the same (no) Oh we're not the same Yeah we used to stick together We wrote our names in blood But I guess you can't accept that the change is good (hey) It's good (hey) It's good Well you treat me just like another stranger Well it's nice to meet you sir I guess I'll go I best be on my way out You treat me just like another stranger Well it's nice to meet you sir I guess I'll go I best be on my way out Ignorance is your new best friend Ignorance is your new best friend Ignorance is your new best friend Ignorance is your new best friend Well you treat me just like another stranger Well it's nice to meet you sir I guess I'll go I best be on my way out You treat me just like another stranger Well it's nice to meet you sir I guess I'll go I best be on my way out
Hayley Williams
NINA Your life is beautiful. TRIGORIN I see nothing especially lovely about it. [He looks at his watch] Excuse me, I must go at once, and begin writing again. I am in a hurry. [He laughs] You have stepped on my pet corn, as they say, and I am getting excited, and a little cross. Let us discuss this bright and beautiful life of mine, though. [After a few moments' thought] Violent obsessions sometimes lay hold of a man: he may, for instance, think day and night of nothing but the moon. I have such a moon. Day and night I am held in the grip of one besetting thought, to write, write, write! Hardly have I finished one book than something urges me to write another, and then a third, and then a fourth--I write ceaselessly. I am, as it were, on a treadmill. I hurry for ever from one story to another, and can't help myself. Do you see anything bright and beautiful in that? Oh, it is a wild life! Even now, thrilled as I am by talking to you, I do not forget for an instant that an unfinished story is awaiting me. My eye falls on that cloud there, which has the shape of a grand piano; I instantly make a mental note that I must remember to mention in my story a cloud floating by that looked like a grand piano. I smell heliotrope; I mutter to myself: a sickly smell, the colour worn by widows; I must remember that in writing my next description of a summer evening. I catch an idea in every sentence of yours or of my own, and hasten to lock all these treasures in my literary store-room, thinking that some day they may be useful to me. As soon as I stop working I rush off to the theatre or go fishing, in the hope that I may find oblivion there, but no! Some new subject for a story is sure to come rolling through my brain like an iron cannonball. I hear my desk calling, and have to go back to it and begin to write, write, write, once more. And so it goes for everlasting. I cannot escape myself, though I feel that I am consuming my life. To prepare the honey I feed to unknown crowds, I am doomed to brush the bloom from my dearest flowers, to tear them from their stems, and trample the roots that bore them under foot. Am I not a madman? Should I not be treated by those who know me as one mentally diseased? Yet it is always the same, same old story, till I begin to think that all this praise and admiration must be a deception, that I am being hoodwinked because they know I am crazy, and I sometimes tremble lest I should be grabbed from behind and whisked off to a lunatic asylum. The best years of my youth were made one continual agony for me by my writing. A young author, especially if at first he does not make a success, feels clumsy, ill-at-ease, and superfluous in the world. His nerves are all on edge and stretched to the point of breaking; he is irresistibly attracted to literary and artistic people, and hovers about them unknown and unnoticed, fearing to look them bravely in the eye, like a man with a passion for gambling, whose money is all gone. I did not know my readers, but for some reason I imagined they were distrustful and unfriendly; I was mortally afraid of the public, and when my first play appeared, it seemed to me as if all the dark eyes in the audience were looking at it with enmity, and all the blue ones with cold indifference. Oh, how terrible it was! What agony!
Anton Chekhov (The Seagull)
Having said that the unliterary reader attends to the words too little to make anything like a full use of them, I must notice that there is another sort of reader who attends to them far too much and in the wrong way. I am thinking of what I call Stylemongers. On taking up a book, these people concentrate on what they call its ‘style’ or its ‘English’. They judge this neither by its sound nor by its power to communicate but by its conformity to certain arbitrary rules. Their reading is a perpetual witch hunt for Americanisms, Gallicisms, split infinitives, and sentences that end with a preposition. They do not inquire whether the Americanism or Gallicism in question increases or impoverishes the expressiveness of our language. It is nothing to them that the best English speakers and writers have been ending sentences with prepositions for over a thousand years. They are full of arbitrary dislikes for particular words. One is ‘a word they’ve always hated’; another ‘always makes them think of so-and-so’. This is too common, and that too rare. Such people are of all men least qualified to have any opinion about a style at all; for the only two tests that are really relevant—the degree in which it is (as Dryden would say) ‘sounding and significant’—are the two they never apply. They judge the instrument by anything rather than its power to do the work it was made for; treat language as something that ‘is’ but does not ‘mean’; criticise the lens after looking at it instead of through it.
C.S. Lewis (An Experiment in Criticism)
They had to die. They were killing innocent people. (Wulf) They were surviving, Wulf. You never had to face the choice of being dead at twenty-seven. When most people’s lives are just beginning, we are looking at a death sentence. Have you any idea what it’s like to know you can never see your children grow up? Never see your own grandchildren? My mother used to say we were spring flowers who are only meant to bloom for one season. We bring our gifts to the world and then recede to dust so that others can come after us. When our loved ones die, we immortalize them like this. I have one for my mother and the other four are my sisters. No one will ever know the beauty of my sisters’ laughter. No one will remember the kindness of my mother’s smile. In eight months, my father won’t even have enough of me left to bury. I will become scattered dust. And for what? For something my great-great-great-whatever did? I’ve been alone the whole of my life because I dare not let anyone know me. I don’t want to love for fear of leaving someone like my father behind to mourn me. I will be a vague dream, and yet here you are, Wulf Tryggvason. Viking cur who once roamed the earth raiding villages. How many people did you kill in your human lifetime while you sought treasure and fame? Were you any better than the Daimons who kill so that they can live? What makes you better than us? (Cassandra) It’s not the same thing. (Wulf) Isn’t it? You know, I went to your Web site and saw the names listed there. Kyrian of Thrace, Julian of Macedon, Valerius Magnus, Jamie Gallagher, William Jess Brady. I’ve studied history all my life and know each of those names and the terror they wrought in their day. Why is it okay for the Dark-Hunters to have immortality even though most of you were killers as humans, while we are damned at birth for things we never did? Where is the justice in this? (Cassandra)
Sherrilyn Kenyon (Kiss of the Night (Dark-Hunter, #4))
Style still matters, for at least three reasons. First, it ensures that writers will get their message across, sparing readers from squandering their precious moments on earth deciphering opaque prose. When the effort fails, the result can be calamitous-as Strunk and White put it, "death on the highway caused by a badly worded road sign, heartbreak among lovers caused by a misplaced phrase in a well-intentioned letter, anguish of a traveler expecting to be met at a railroad station and not being met because of a slipshod telegram." Governments and corporations have found that small improvements in clarity can prevent vast amounts of error, frustration, and waste, and many countries have recently made clear language the law of the land. Second, style earns trust. If readers can see that a writer cares about consistency and accuracy in her prose, they will be reassured that the writer cares about those virtues in conduct they cannot see as easily. Here is how one technology executive explains why he rejects job applications filled with errors of grammar and punctuation: "If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use it's, then that's not a learning curve I'm comfortable with." And if that isn't enough to get you to brush up your prose, consider the discovery of the dating site OkCupid that sloppy grammar and spelling in a profile are "huge turn-offs." As one client said, "If you're trying to date a woman, I don't expect flowery Jane Austen prose. But aren't you trying to put your best foot forward?" Style, not least, adds beauty to the world. To a literate reader, a crisp sentence, an arresting metaphor, a witty aside, an elegant turn of phrase are among life's greatest pleasures. And as we shall see in the first chapter, this thoroughly impractical virtue of good writing is where the practical effort of mastering good writing must begin.
Steven Pinker (The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century)
Our textbooks were ridiculous propaganda. The first English sentence we learned was "Long live Chairman Mao!" But no one dared to explain the sentence grammatically. In Chinese the term for the optative mood, expressing a wish or desire, means 'something unreal." In 1966 a lecturer at Sichuan University had been beaten up for 'having the audacity to suggest that "Long live Chairman Mao!" was unreal!" One chapter was about a model youth hero who had drowned after jumping into a flood to save an electricity pole because the pole would be used to carry the word of Mao. With great difficulty, I managed to borrow some English language textbooks published before the Cultural Revolution from lecturers in my department and from Jin-ming, who sent me books from his university by post. These contained extracts from writers like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Oscar Wilde, and stories from European and American history. They were a joy to read, but much of my energy went toward finding them and then trying to keep them. Whenever someone approached, I would quickly cover the books with a newspaper. This was only partly because of their 'bourgeois' content. It was also important not to appear to be studying too conscientiously, and not to arouse my fellow students' jealousy by reading something far beyond them. Although we were studying English, and were paid par fly for our propaganda value by the government to do this, we must not be seen to be too devoted to our subject: that was considered being 'white and expert." In the mad logic of the day, being good at one's profession ('expert') was automatically equated with being politically unreliable ('white').
Jung Chang (Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China)
...each day I sit down in purposeful concentration to write in a notebook, some sentences on a buried truth, an unnamed reality, things that happened but are denied. It is hard to describe the stillness it takes, the difficulty of this act. It requires an almost perfect concentration which I am trying to learn and there is no way to learn it that is spelled out anywhere or so I can understand it but I have a sense that it's completely simply, on the order of being able to sit still and keep your mind dead center in you without apology or fear. I squirm after some time but it ain't boredom, it's fear of what's possible, how much you can know if you can be quiet enough and simple enough. I move around, my mind wanders, I lose the ability to take words and roll them through my brain, move with them into their interiors, feel their colors, touch what's under them, where they come from long ago and way back. I get frightened seeing what's in my own mind if words get put to it. There's a light there, it's bright, it's wide, it could make you blind if you look direct into it and so I turn away, afraid; I get frightened and I run and the only way to run is to abandon the process altogether or compromise it beyond recognition. I think about Celine sitting with his shit, for instance; I don't know why he didn't run, he should've. It's a quality you have to have of being near mad and at the same time so quiet in your heart that you could pass for a spiritual warrior; you could probably break things with the power in your mind. You got to be able to stand it, because it's a powerful and disturbing light, not something easy and kind, it comes through your head to make its way onto the page and you get fucking scared so your mind runs away, it wanders, it gets distracted, it buckles, it deserts, it takes a Goddamn freight train if it can find one, it wants calming agents and sporifics, and you mask that you are betraying the brightest and the best light you will ever see, you are betraying the mind that can be host to it... ...Your mind does stupid tricks to mask that you are betraying something of grave importance. It wanders so you won't notice that you are deserting your own life, abandoning it to triviality and garbage, how you are too fucking afraid to use your own brain for what it's for, which is to be a host to the light, to use it, to focus it; let it shine and carry the burden of what is illuminated, everything buried there; the light's scarier than anything it shows, the pure, direct experience of it in you as if your mind ain't the vegetable thing it's generally conceived to be or the nightmare thing you know it to be but a capacity you barely imagined, real; overwhelming and real, pushing you out to the edge of ecstasy and knowing and then do you fall or do you jump or do you fly?
Andrea Dworkin (Mercy)
[The Devil] "This legend is about paradise. There was, they say, a certain thinker and philospher here on your earth, who 'rejected all--laws, conscience faith, and, above all, the future life. He died and thought he'd go straight into darkness and death, but no--there was the future life before him. He was amazed and indignant. 'This,' he said, 'goes against my convictions.' So for that he was sentenced...I mean, you see, I beg your pardon, I'm repeating what I heard, it's just a see, he was sentenced to walk in darkness a quadrillion kilometers (we also use kilometers now), and once he finished that quadrillion, the doors of paradise would be open to him and he would be forgiven everything...Well, so this man sentenced to the quadrillion stood a while, looked, and then lay down across the road: 'I dont want to go, I refuse to go on principle!' Take the soul of an enlightened Russian atheist and mix it with the soul of the prophet Jonah, who sulked in the belly of a whale for three days and three nights--you'll get the character of this thinker lying in the road...He lay there for nearly a thousand years, and then got up and started walking." "What an ass!" Ivan exclaimed, bursting into nervous laughter, still apparently trying hard to figure something out. "isn't it all the same whether he lies there forever or walks a quadrillion kilometers? It must be about a billion years' walk!" "Much more, even. If we had a pencil and paper, we could work it out. But he arrived long ago, and this is where the anecdote begins." "Arrived! But where did he get a billion years?" "You keep thinking about our present earth! But our present earth may have repeated itself a billion times; it died out, lets say, got covered with ice, cracked, fell to pieces, broke down into its original components, again there were the waters above the firmament, then again a comet, again the sun, again the earth from the sun--all this development may already have been repeated an infinite number of times, and always in the same way, to the last detail. A most unspeakable bore... "Go on, what happened when he arrived?" "The moment the doors of paradise were opened and he went in, before he had even been there two seconds--and that by the watch--before he had been there two seconds, he exclaimed that for those two seconds it would be worth walking not just a quadrillion kilometers, but a quadrillion quadrillion, even raised to the quadrillionth power! In short, he sang 'Hosannah' and oversweetened it so much that some persons there, of a nobler cast of mind, did not even want to shake hands with him at first: he jumped over to the conservatives a bit too precipitously. The Russian character. I repeat: it's a legend.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (The Brothers Karamazov)
..I began speaking.. First, I took issue with the media's characterization of the post-Katrina New Orleans as resembling the third world as its poor citizens clamored for a way out. I suggested that my experience in New Orleans working with the city's poorest people in the years before the storm had reflected the reality of third-world conditions in New Orleans, and that Katrina had not turned New Orleans into a third-world city but had only revealed it to the world as such. I explained that my work, running Reprieve, a charity that brought lawyers and volunteers to the Deep South from abroad to work on death penalty issues, had made it clear to me that much of the world had perceived this third-world reality, even if it was unnoticed by our own citizens. To try answer Ryan's question, I attempted to use my own experience to explain that for many people in New Orleans, and in poor communities across the country, the government was merely an antagonist, a terrible landlord, a jailer, and a prosecutor. As a lawyer assigned to indigent people under sentence of death and paid with tax dollars, I explained the difficulty of working with clients who stand to be executed and who are provided my services by the state, not because they deserve them, but because the Constitution requires that certain appeals to be filed before these people can be killed. The state is providing my clients with my assistance, maybe the first real assistance they have ever received from the state, so that the state can kill them. I explained my view that the country had grown complacent before Hurricane Katrina, believing that the civil rights struggle had been fought and won, as though having a national holiday for Martin Luther King, or an annual march by politicians over the bridge in Selma, Alabama, or a prosecution - forty years too late - of Edgar Ray Killen for the murder of civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi, were any more than gestures. Even though President Bush celebrates his birthday, wouldn't Dr. King cry if he could see how little things have changed since his death? If politicians or journalists went to Selma any other day of the year, they would see that it is a crumbling city suffering from all of the woes of the era before civil rights were won as well as new woes that have come about since. And does anyone really think that the Mississippi criminal justice system could possibly be a vessel of social change when it incarcerates a greater percentage of its population than almost any place in the world, other than Louisiana and Texas, and then compels these prisoners, most of whom are black, to work prison farms that their ancestors worked as chattel of other men? ... I hoped, out loud, that the post-Katrina experience could be a similar moment [to the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fiasco], in which the American people could act like the children in the story and declare that the emperor has no clothes, and hasn't for a long time. That, in light of Katrina, we could be visionary and bold about what people deserve. We could say straight out that there are people in this country who are racist, that minorities are still not getting a fair shake, and that Republican policies heartlessly disregard the needs of individual citizens and betray the common good. As I stood there, exhausted, in front of the thinning audience of New Yorkers, it seemed possible that New Orleans's destruction and the suffering of its citizens hadn't been in vain.
Billy Sothern (Down in New Orleans: Reflections from a Drowned City)
In 90% of cases, you can start with one of the two most effective ways to open a speech: ask a question or start with a story. Our brain doesn’t remember what we hear. It remembers only what we “see” or imagine while we listen. You can remember stories. Everything else is quickly forgotten. Smell is the most powerful sense out of 4 to immerse audience members into a scene. Every sentence either helps to drive your point home, or it detracts from clarity. There is no middle point. If you don’t have a foundational phrase in your speech, it means that your message is not clear enough to you, and if it’s not clear to you, there is no way it will be clear to your audience. Share your failures first. Show your audience members that you are not any better, smarter or more talented than they are. You are not an actor, you are a speaker. The main skill of an actor is to play a role; to be someone else. Your main skill as a speaker is to be yourself. People will forgive you for anything except for being boring. Speaking without passion is boring. If you are not excited about what you are talking about, how can you expect your audience to be excited? Never hide behind a lectern or a table. Your audience needs to see 100% of your body. Speak slowly and people will consider you to be a thoughtful and clever person. Leaders don’t talk much, but each word holds a lot of meaning and value. You always speak to only one person. Have a conversation directly with one person, look him or her in the eye. After you have logically completed one idea, which usually is 10-20 seconds, scan the audience and then stop your eyes on another person. Repeat this process again. Cover the entire room with eye contact. When you scan the audience and pick people for eye contact, pick positive people more often. When you pause, your audience thinks about your message and reflects. Pausing builds an audiences’ confidence. If you don’t pause, your audience doesn’t have time to digest what you've told them and hence, they will not remember a word of what you've said. Pause before and after you make an important point and stand still. During this pause, people think about your words and your message sinks in. After you make an important point and stand still. During this pause, people think about your words and your message sinks in. Speakers use filler words when they don’t know what to say, but they feel uncomfortable with silence. Have you ever seen a speaker who went on stage with a piece of paper and notes? Have you ever been one of these speakers? When people see you with paper in your hands, they instantly think, “This speaker is not sincere. He has a script and will talk according to the script.” The best speeches are not written, they are rewritten. Bad speakers create a 10 minutes speech and deliver it in 7 minutes. Great speakers create a 5 minute speech and deliver it in 7 minutes. Explain your ideas in a simple manner, so that the average 12-year-old child can understand the concept. Good speakers and experts can always explain the most complex ideas with very simple words. Stories evoke emotions. Factual information conveys logic. Emotions are far more important in a speech than logic. If you're considering whether to use statistics or a story, use a story. PowerPoint is for pictures not for words. Use as few words on the slide as possible. Never learn your speech word for word. Just rehearse it enough times to internalize the flow. If you watch a video of your speech, you can triple the pace of your development as a speaker. Make videos a habit. Meaningless words and clichés neither convey value nor information. Avoid them. Never apologize on stage. If people need to put in a lot of effort to understand you they simply won’t listen. On the other hand if you use very simple language you will connect with the audience and your speech will be remembered.
Andrii Sedniev (Magic of Public Speaking: A Complete System to Become a World Class Speaker)
Why do we complain of Nature? She has shown herself kindly; life, if you know how to use it, is long. But one man is possessed by an avarice that is insatiable, another by a toilsome devotion to tasks that are useless; one man is besotted with wine, another is paralyzed by sloth; one man is exhausted by an ambition that always hangs upon the decision of others, another, driven on by the greed of the trader, is led over all lands and all seas by the hope of gain; some are tormented by a passion for war and are always either bent upon inflicting danger upon others or concerned about their own; some there are who are worn out by voluntary servitude in a thankless attendance upon the great; many are kept busy either in the pursuit of other men's fortune or in complaining of their own; many, following no fixed aim, shifting and inconstant and dissatisfied, are plunged by their fickleness into plans that are ever new; some have no fixed principle by which to direct their course, but Fate takes them unawares while they loll and yawn—so surely does it happen that I cannot doubt the truth of that utterance which the greatest of poets delivered with all the seeming of an oracle: "The part of life we really live is small."5 For all the rest of existence is not life, but merely time. Vices beset us and surround us on every side, and they do not permit us to rise anew and lift up our eyes for the discernment of truth, but they keep us down when once they have overwhelmed us and we are chained to lust. Their victims are never allowed to return to their true selves; if ever they chance to find some release, like the waters of the deep sea which continue to heave even after the storm is past, they are tossed about, and no rest from their lusts abides. Think you that I am speaking of the wretches whose evils are admitted? Look at those whose prosperity men flock to behold; they are smothered by their blessings. To how many are riches a burden! From how many do eloquence and the daily straining to display their powers draw forth blood! How many are pale from constant pleasures! To how many does the throng of clients that crowd about them leave no freedom! In short, run through the list of all these men from the lowest to the highest—this man desires an advocate,6 this one answers the call, that one is on trial, that one defends him, that one gives sentence; no one asserts his claim to himself, everyone is wasted for the sake of another. Ask about the men whose names are known by heart, and you will see that these are the marks that distinguish them: A cultivates B and B cultivates C; no one is his own master. And then certain men show the most senseless indignation—they complain of the insolence of their superiors, because they were too busy to see them when they wished an audience! But can anyone have the hardihood to complain of the pride of another when he himself has no time to attend to himself? After all, no matter who you are, the great man does sometimes look toward you even if his face is insolent, he does sometimes condescend to listen to your words, he permits you to appear at his side; but you never deign to look upon yourself, to give ear to yourself. There is no reason, therefore, to count anyone in debt for such services, seeing that, when you performed them, you had no wish for another's company, but could not endure your own.
Seneca (On the Shortness of Life: Life Is Long if You Know How to Use It (Penguin Great Ideas))