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Your Favorite Passages

Discussion in 'Copywriting' started by Equatorial, May 16, 2015.

  1. #1
    As writers, not only do we read more compared to most folks, but given our insights to the craft, we tend to appreciate great writing just that little bit better.

    Whether it’s the structure, symbolism, imagery or other literary devices, great writing could literally take one’s breath away with its strength, veracity, revelation and clarity. I remember being blown away reading J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. He managed to shrewdly weave penetrative adult insights into the cynical yet naïve thoughts of Holden Caulfield without making the teenage protagonist sound like a bitter old man.

    "I was half in love with her by the time we sat down. That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are."​

    It sounds exactly like something a 16-year-old would say, only with so much more wisdom. To be perfectly honest, at times, I do feel some measure of resentment and even jealousy reading these wonderfully crafted passages.

    Hence this thread – I was hoping everyone would share their own favorite passages so we may all collectively marvel and admire those talented souls who could so very effortlessly inspire us, drag us into melancholia or conjure a myriad other manners of emotional manipulations.
    SEMrush
    I’ll start off with a few to get the ball rolling. I’m looking forward to seeing yours – though I secretly hope it’s something obscure, so I may have something new to look forward to read.


    ♦ Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy


    He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.”​

    There was something in her higher than what surrounded her. There was in her the glow of the real diamond among glass imitations. This glow shone out in her exquisite, truly enigmatic eyes. The weary, and at the same time passionate, glance of those eyes, encircled by dark rings, impressed one by its perfect sincerity. Everyone looking into those eyes fancied he knew her wholly, and knowing her, could not but love her.”​

    ♦ A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

    I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul. In my degradation I have not been so degraded but that the sight of you with your father, and of this home made such a home by you, has stirred old shadows that I thought had died out of me. Since I knew you, I have been troubled by a remorse that I thought would never reproach me again, and have heard whispers from old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent for ever. I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”​

    ♦ William Faulkner, in his 1950 Nobel Prize acceptance speech

    I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.”​

    An audio recording of his speech, if you’re interested.

    Okay, your turn.
     
    Equatorial, May 16, 2015 IP
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    SEMrush
  2. pianogirl

    pianogirl Well-Known Member

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    #2
    I love this thread :)
     
    pianogirl, May 16, 2015 IP
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  3. consul

    consul Active Member

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    #3
    This passage from the Bible (King James Version) has been one of the most meaningful for me:

    38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
    39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    (Rom 8:38-39, KJV)
     
    consul, May 17, 2015 IP
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  4. Equatorial

    Equatorial Active Member

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    #4
    I hope it will get better once more people contribute. :)

    This took a surprising turn. I must confess I didn't even thought about religious scriptures.
    But the ones you quoted certainly deserves a place in this thread.
    However, personally speaking, I think the most beautiful passage in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. If my memory serves me right, it is the most popular vow in American weddings.
     
    Equatorial, May 17, 2015 IP
  5. Atikur

    Atikur Active Member

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    #5
    Good one! Carry on.
     
    Atikur, May 17, 2015 IP
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  6. Equatorial

    Equatorial Active Member

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    #6
    Just finished rereading Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls, and I am once again struck by its sheer beauty and vividness. Hemingway paints an entire world a lifetime and a continent away with perfect clarity. One passage in particular, where Maria recounted the murder of her family and her rape to the protagonist, Robert Jordan, almost brought me to tears for its blend of naivety, horror and poignancy.


    She said I could tell thee of what was done to me if I ever began to think of it again because thou art a good man and already have understood it all. But that it were better never to speak of it unless it came on me as a black thing as it had been before and then that telling it to thee might rid me of it.”

    “Does it weigh on thee now?”

    “No. It is as though it had never happened since we were first together. There is the sorrow for my parents always. But that there will be always. But I would have thee know that which you should know for thy own pride if I am to be thy wife. Never did I submit to any one. Always I fought and always it took two of them or more to do me the harm. One would sit on my head and hold me. I tell thee this for thy pride.

    “My pride is in thee. Do not tell it.”

    Nay, I speak of thy own pride which it is necessary to have in thy wife.
     
    Equatorial, Feb 13, 2016 IP
  7. Svetla Vasileva

    Svetla Vasileva Member

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    #7
    Since I am a coffee and tea lover, this is one of my favorite quotes:

    “It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs and bacon it says, "Work!" After beefsteak and porter, it says, "Sleep!" After a cup of tea (two spoonfuls for each cup, and don't let it stand for more than three minutes), it says to the brain, "Now rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature, and into life: spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming stars to the gates of eternity!”

    Jerome K. Jerome


    “If a man is called to be a street-sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street-sweeper who did his job well.”

    Martin Luther King Jr.
     
    Svetla Vasileva, Mar 31, 2016 IP
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  8. Svetla Vasileva

    Svetla Vasileva Member

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    #8
    A text by Mikhail Bulgakov

    Luba Ushakova, as is well known, talks at an average speed of 150 words per minute. In times of intellectual stress or excitement or on the subject of French cinema, this rate rises to 165 words per minute. Floating high on its Akhmatova-like neck, Luba Ushakova's head does not even bob as Luba Ushakova's mouth produces a steady, even stream of words. To the unpractised listener, this sounds like a rare form of bird song, but if you hold your breath and listen closely the song breaks up into distinct words; amazingly, each word is perfectly formed, each word makes sense.

    One day a strange thing happens: Luba Ushakova falls silent. True, the silence does not last for long - for an hour and a half at most; even so, those who know Luba Ushakova can be forgiven for wondering what has happened. Has she had bad news of some sort? Has she just come back from the dentist? Is she ill?

    No: none of these things. It is just that she is in a state of shock, having met Sveta Stakanova, the only native of St Petersburg who regularly talks faster than herself.

    One day a strange thing happens: Luba Ushakova again falls silent. This time she has toothache and the silence lasts a couple of days. Not long perhaps, but quite long enough to decide the fate of Kira Chernov, 28, poet, archaeologist and talented bottle-emptier. Looking out across a crowded room, Kira Chernov falls in love with the taciturn, mysterious, delightfully reticent, dark-eyed girl with a neck like Anna Akhmatova. Later that day he asks her to marry him. Two days later, when Luba Ushakova opens her mouth in his presence for the first time and does not close it again for the next hour and a half, he realizes his mistake; but now it is too late for him to go back on his word. And besides, he is still in love with Luba Ushakova, who now seems to him like an exotic form of bird.
     
    Svetla Vasileva, Apr 17, 2016 IP
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  9. Equatorial

    Equatorial Active Member

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    #9
    This is stunning in it simplicity - and depth.


    "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."

    "So write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader's ear. Don't just write words. Write music."


    from 100 Ways To Improve Your Writing, by Gary Provost.
     
    Equatorial, Nov 24, 2016 IP
  10. Equatorial

    Equatorial Active Member

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    #10
    Just read a short story by J.D. Salinger, and I am rendered almost speechless by its beauty. This paragraph, in particular, is majestic.

    The apartment below mine had the only balcony of the house. I saw a girl standing on it, completely submerged in the pool of autumn twilight. She wasn't doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together. The way the profile of her face and body refracted in the soupy twilight made me feel a little drunk. When a few seconds had throbbed by, I said hello to her. She then looked up at me, and though she seemed decorously startled, something told me she wasn't too surprised that I had heard her doing the Boswell number. This didn't matter, of course. I asked her, in murderous German, if I might join her on the balcony. The request obviously rattled her. She replied, in English, that she didn't think her 'fahzzer' would like me to come down to see her. At this point, my opinion of girls' fathers, which had been low for years, struck bottom. But nevertheless I managed a drab little nod of understanding. -

    J.D. Salinger, A Girl I Knew (first published in 1948)​
     
    Equatorial, Jan 29, 2017 IP
  11. Svetla Vasileva

    Svetla Vasileva Member

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    #11
    Truman Capote: She has got eyes like ale held to the light.
     
    Svetla Vasileva, Jan 30, 2017 IP
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  12. Equatorial

    Equatorial Active Member

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    #12
    So she has hazel-colored eyes? :)
     
    Equatorial, Feb 2, 2017 IP
  13. Anitasol

    Anitasol Active Member

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    #13
    Hey, let me add an excerpt from Lang Leav's book! :)

    "If I have learned anything this year, it is that I won't ever be ready for what life throws at me. I won't have the right words when it counts; I won't know what to choose when fate itself is tearing me down. But now I know I don't always need to have the right answer."

    This was my mantra for last year, and this is my mantra for this year, and I love it! :D Really, life is full of surprises. I hope this year 2017 is gonna be great for all of us.
     
    Anitasol, Feb 4, 2017 IP
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  14. Best Seller

    Best Seller Member

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    #14
    I absolutely love this quote about writing by Gary Provost: "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."
     
    Best Seller, Feb 16, 2017 IP
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  15. Equatorial

    Equatorial Active Member

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    #15
    Had to Google the author. It takes a brave soul to trawl through the works of authors without a Wiki page! lol. Thanks!.

    Dude, I posted this in six comments above. :)
     
    Equatorial, Feb 22, 2017 IP
  16. Equatorial

    Equatorial Active Member

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    #16
    Before Anne Rice struck gold with her vampire series, she dabbled quite a bit in witchcraft and erotica (she used the pseudonym of Anne Rampling for the latter) genres. One of her best works was written during that period, The Witching Hour. It's a beautifully-written blend of horror, history, gothic, witchcraft, romance and culture. San Francisco, New Orleans, Amsterdam and Saint-Domingue almost came alive under her ministrations. Here's one passage from the book - you almost feel chilly just reading it.

    A gust of cold salty wind struck him. He heard the creaking of the huge boat; and the weak lunar light of the flood seemed grim and distinctly unpleasant to him. Seaworthy, they had said. He could believe it when he looked at this craft. Explorers had crossed the oceans of the world in boats much smaller than that. Again, it appeared grotesque to him, frighteningly out of scale.

    He stepped out on the pier, his collar blowing against his cheek, and moved towards the edge. The water was perfectly black down below, and he could smell it, smell the dank odor of inevitable dead things of the sea.

    Far across the bay he could just glimpse the Sausalito lights, but the penetrating cold came between him and anything picturesque just now, and he realized that all he so hated in this western clime was coalesced in this moment. Never the rugged winter, nor the burning summer; only this eternal chill, this eternal inhospitable harshness.

    The Witching Hour - Anne Rice​
     
    Equatorial, Feb 22, 2017 IP
  17. Best Seller

    Best Seller Member

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    #17
    Great minds think alike! ;)
     
    Best Seller, Feb 22, 2017 IP
  18. DD Grace

    DD Grace Greenhorn

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    #18
    Oh, you can't imagine how I like this topic :)

    Here are my favorites:

    When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. - Paulo Coelho

    Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old. - Franz Kafka
     
    DD Grace, Mar 24, 2017 IP
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