I was discussing on Twitter this week perfect lines – the line in a book that gives you shivers, you know this is a special moment, and it somehow encapsulates everything a book is about. I mentioned one of my favourites is at the beginning of the Haunting of Hill House ‘Hill House – not sane’ (I was very happy to see that they kept that line right in the beginning of the new TV series)
You read that line and you know what is to come will chill you and be nothing like you’ve ever read before.
Perfect lines don’t have to be at the beginning. ‘Reader, I married him’ is near the end of Jane Eyre, and it rings with the certainty that she made her choice, she controlled her life and she is talking to us.
I do have a perfect line in one of my books. Perfect for me, anyway – but it’s near the ending so I can’t tell you the context. All I can say is that some one who seemed so meek and complacent suddenly snaps out ‘Even I’m bored of you now’
The thing is, there’s no trick to a perfect line. You can’t force it. It’s a force of nature, not just a spark but a whole lightning strike of inspiration. You’ll know when it appears on the page and you stare at it gleefully and shiver a little and wonder how that ever came out of your head.
Sent from my iPad