I keep a notebook of my favorite sentences, phrases from the books I read that I can look back over again and again and hopefully learn from.
What impresses me about some of these sentences is the author’s skill in creating a mood appropriate to the story’s genre.
Like these lines from Dean Koontz’s horror novel, The Darkest Evening of The Year:
Her daughter glided at her side, as firmly attached as a remora to a large fish.
Amy had the feeling that something more than the man himself lived in Brockman’s body, as though he had opened a door to a night visitor that made of his heart a lair.
The hooded eyes looked sleepy, but the reptilian mind behind them might be acrawl with calculation.
Every time a read those words, ‘acrawl with calculation’ I literally get goose bumps. What power words can have!
As you may have guessed, Koontz is one of my favorite authors. Check out the imagery in these lines from his novel The Taking:
The room had the deep-fathom ambience of an oceanic trench forever beyond the reach of the sun but dimly revealed by radiant anemones and luminous jellyfish.
The nape of her neck prickled as though a ghost lover had pressed his ectoplasmic lips to her skin.
As effectively as a leech taking blood, fear suckled on Molly’s hope.
As much as I love a brilliant metaphor, often it’s just the sheer magic of the words that captivates me. Like these lines from The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis
On the street that was as much a part of him as the face he saw reflected in the store windows, he felt his sense of isolation burrowing deeper.
It was a broken, hallucinatory night of sleep. In the wind, the shack that stood on stilts shook like a houseboat tossed on mercurial seas.
What impresses me most however is that these authors conjure their special magic using only the simplest words. Words every writer worth his ink has at their disposal.