The Golden Sentence
I was lounging in my chair, drinking apple cider, with my mp3 player plugged into my ears. I am jamming to Miles Davis and reading, when I read it: it made me pull the headphones out of ear and read it again. “Her scent was an aphrodisiac and mixed perfectly with the aroma from the ocean that breezed in through the opened sliding glass doors” Education of Simon Lane – Pat Cromwell. That is the sentence that made me stop.
There are certain sentences that will make a reader pause and re-read those lines over and over again. We see it in movies all the time, “You had me at ‘hello’” (Jerry Maguire) “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” (Dead Poets Society)
Perhaps I’m a nerdy narcissist, but I believe that in every single work by an author you read should have that one sentence that makes you pause. I call it “the golden sentence.” These are the hooks, the lines, and the ‘one thing’ that’s kept you going or coming back for more—those sentences, to me you, aregolden. Some might not find “He could see himself coming home to her every day,” in Escape to Heaven by Reana Malori to be all that bold of a statement, but I love it because it breaks down the male psyche of ‘commitment’ and tells us that our hero is falling for the heroine. It lets us know he wants her. I bet you just thought that sentence was just filler huh?
Being an author, sometimes I find it tempting to lead the reader to find the same sentence I consider ‘golden’, but where is the fun in that. People are individuals and I wouldn’t want someone telling me that “You’ve never been just my friend.” in Windows by Billy London isn’t a golden sentence.
Crafting these sentences however can make you want to cry, yell, maim someone or burn a house down. It takes dedication and commitment to not water down your words, to make that sentence stand up to the editing process. When you finally craft that sentence that cannot be butchered and stripped down, you look at it and smile. You look at it and smile because the pain of birthing that sentence is worth it.
When I write, I start with that sentence. I’m a pantser to a fault, not to mention I have a technical writing background which likes the passive sentence so much, my first drafts usually read like a manual to build your own dirigible. So I start with that sentence, that one golden piece of prose that can set the whole story in motion and expand. Do you have any golden sentences? Go back and read them. Relive the memories with those words and realize that words are truly priceless.