• The Best Passage You’ve Written in 2020 (So Far)

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 110 comments
    Jun
    27

    Discussion questions: What is the best thing you’ve written this year? A line or passage that made you sit back and think, “Wow, I’m a talented writer!” And are you willing to share it with us? If so, copy/paste it in the comments below. Provide some context if you want, or let your words speak for themselves. Fiction or non, poetry or screenplay, even text message or email, let’s see an example of your best work of 2020.

     

    Last week we spent a lot of time talking about the shitty things our internal critics tell us. It wasn’t much fun, though I think and hope that some of us got something out of it.

    This week, let’s do almost the exact opposite. Let’s shut up our internal critics and celebrate ourselves instead!

     

    Some of us are lucky enough to really like, even love, our own writing, and we’re always ready to share it with anyone who asks… or anyone who doesn’t.

    Others (me) struggle to appreciate anything that comes out of us.

    If you’re part of the former group, responding to this post will be easy.

    If you’re part of the latter group, just… grit your teeth and do it. If you do it, I’ll do it.

     

    What I want to see, in the comments below, is the best passage you’ve written in 2020. The line or paragraph you’re most proud of having written; the one you’re most eager for others to read.

    It can be fiction or non; poetry or script; even a tweet or a text or some words from your own blog.

    Provide us some context, if it’ll help, and/or tell us where the passage came from, when and how you wrote it, why it’s your favorite passage.

    Or let your words speak for themselves.

     

    After you post your passage, read a few examples from your fellow WriteByNighters.

    Let them know what you like about it and if the passage makes you want to read more.

    Even if you’re short on time, just clicking the + sign is a helpful show of support. A little encouragement goes a long way.

     

    It’s show-and-tell time! What’s the best passage you’ve written in 2020?

     

    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2020 writing project you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. If you have a manuscript that’s ready for some editorial care, check out our various critiquing, editorial, and proofing servicesJoin our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

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    John Bordeaux

    Can you do anything about the other students? They keep posting COVID-19 conversations in the discussion group, even when it’s off topic. Please, I was hoping school would be a respite from talking about the virus.” There is a hunger to move on, as summer beckons, to begin a post-pandemic life. There is a rush to restart business and vacations, and millions clamor to reset the clock — despite minimal change to risk factors for most Americans. We want to move on and forget. This is humanity’s urge, not new to us. Irish historians struggled to find first-person narratives among survivors of… Read more »

    Lydia McIntosh

    Excellent!

    John Bordeaux

    Thank you.

    Susan

    What a great teacher your narrator is. I have recently read an article about imaginal disks, and I love the concept and how you used it here. Maybe the whole world’s in a kind of crazy cocoon now. Also, re: the famine, the effects are felt to this day! The horror of it sunk into my consciousness very deeply when I read the accounts of some journalists who visited Irish homes where people were starving and spared no detail. I have not read any firsthand accounts. Do you know of any?

    John Bordeaux

    Why, thank you. That isn’t actually fiction, I’m the teacher and this happened in my Spring semester class. Also you and I likely read the same article about imaginal disks this year. There is an interesting book from someone who toured Ireland at the time, as close as I’ve found to firsthand accounts. “Ireland’s Welcome to the Stranger (Annotated): or, an excursion through Ireland, in 1844 & 1845, for the purpose of personally investigating the condition of the poor.” by Asenath Nicholson.

    Susan

    Was the article you read online? (Well, what isn’t, these days?) I can’t remember who wrote it. As to the Nicholson book, I wonder if what I read wasn’t, in fact, excerpts from it, but I found there are copies at Abe Books, so I’ll probably order it. Thank you!

    Joe Giordano

    This is the first chapter of The Art of Revenge, a novel I completed in 2020, which I’m now pitching to agents. Feedback would be welcome. The first chapters of my other three novels can be found on my website: http://joe-giordano.com/ Thanks for reading. Joe. Anthony Athens, Greece Chapter One I’m Anthony Provati. Please don’t call me Tony. That was my father’s name, and I’d rather not be reminded. You probably noticed my deviated septum, a souvenir from a stint in Golden Gloves. Seems like I’m always making trouble for myself. Makes me think that I inherited my uncle’s genes.… Read more »

    Denise Senecal

    This is Chapter 17 of a fantasy novel, written in the Old Norse saga style, called Star of the North. It is a work in progress and my second novel. ] Ailas found Hasufeld in the armory staring at rows and racks of weapons, shields, and armor stretching back into the darkness. She touched his arm, and he started. Silently she held out Sterl’s saex and the sword he had worked with on the practice field every day. “They will need to be honed.” Hasufeld murmured absently. “It is only overwhelming if you let it be, Hasufeld. One step at… Read more »

    Joe Giordano

    Well written. You’ve done your research. Congratulations. Joe.

    Lydia McIntosh

    Drew me right into the story!

    Barbara Mealer

    Let me know when you get this finished, I’d like to read it.

    Joe Giordano

    each book brings surprises. Thanks, Joe.

    Barbara Mealer

    This is the edited ending of Chapter 2 of short novel. This opening takes place in a company town where they all work at a chemical plant. Very few leave the town without being dead. The 3 girls were exploring a cave when they feel these tremors which send them scurrying back out of the cavern. Each set of tremors causes more falling debris in the cavern. This is what they come out and find.(It’s a long passage but I couldn’t cut it up Sarah and Jill wiggled between the boulder and wall, walking a few paces to where they… Read more »

    adrien leslie

    very engaging;)

    Elissa Malcohn

    Love the wordsmithing and cinematography. You had me right there.

    Barbara Mealer

    The imagery that I finally settled on. It took me a long time to get this right. Every time I read it, I can feel that loss she has as the plant disintegrates and she knows that her father and Gavin are part of that debris.

    Barbara Mealer

    You have to decide on what you want the passage to do then only change what will enhance the scene The key is to get the whole novel completed, then go back and change what you need to enhance that area without changing the structure or what you are trying to accomplish in that scene. I wanted the horror of what she was seeing to come through along as how it was affecting her. Most of what I did was to improve the wording and descriptions while keeping the basic concept there. Don’t change the essence of the scene if… Read more »

    adrien leslie

                        On the eve of the eighth anniversary of her grandmother’s death, Dorothy  was awakened by two ghosts. Grandma Nettie, who visited whenever the spirit moved her, brought along Dorothy’s first ex-boyfriend.  Together, as if following her to Morocco made perfect sense, they sat at the foot of the bed where Grandma fussed with Bobby’s hair as she did when he was in college.  

    It was all very disturbing, since as far as Dorothy knew, Bobby Song wasn’t dead.  Not that she’d know if he was.

    Barbara Mealer

    Interesting concept. I wonder why there are there and if Bobby Song is dead.

    adrien leslie

    :)

    adrien leslie

    Its my manuscript, The Last Ex-Boyfriend and thanks to wbn it just gets better n better. Love my wbn coach!

    Raymundo

    1/1/2041. We will likely find our peaceful ways earning us enemies in whatever is left of humanity on the outside. As populations rebuild, I fear the drive for power among many will only lead to the new world resuming the violence of the old one. And so while we must help survivors survive, we can’t reintroduce them to the technology that nearly made them extinct. (In truth, I nearly made them extinct).  …From the journal of J. A. Drummond

    Barbara Mealer

    Ok, I need to find out how he keeps them from becoming warlike again.

    Raymundo

    Will take a novel to explain that…

    Raymundo

    It’s actually toward the end of a series of 21st century journal entries meant to provide some enlightenment of the rest of the 24th century part of the post apocalypse novel and laying a foundation for the next novels in the series. That almost sounds like I know what I’m doing. Anyway, I wanted to ask you about your manuscript services, following up on an email conversation I began with Justine a few years ago. I have some work to do, but I’ll shoot you an email. Thanks.

    Raymundo

    They are part of the novel, inserted throughout to provide supporting explanation, but also telling their own story. Essentially, another subplot.

    adrien leslie

    (Sunny is a dog) Through the opened master-bathroom door, Dorothy spied an array of pink and lavender bottles of shampoos and conditioners. Even with a not-so-fastidious dog at her side, their flowery scents exposed the girls-only house.  It would be nice to breathe in the musk of a just-showered man.  But a lover, showered or not, would always be temporary.  Men, in her parochial experience, either walked out or cheated.  Memories brought the young widow to tears.  Sunny, in sisterly camaraderie, rested her head on Dorothy’s lap.  There they stayed; one weeping, one sleeping, until the headband-thief signalled she needed… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    Headband-thief? I enjoyed the picture but need to know who this other person or creature is.

    adrien leslie

    they’re plucked from the 1st 2 chapters of The Last Ex-Boyfriend

    adrien leslie

    (hope this helps) “Sunny, are you on my bed again?” Dorothy heard the familiar swish of blankets followed by the pap-pap of paws hitting the wood floor.  In a moment, an afghan mix stood in the doorway with the chewed remnants of Sarah-Bess’ favorite headband locked in her jaws. “You naughty girl.  Drop it.”   The chase began; through the kitchen, circling the dining room table, along the hallway and onto the scene of the theft; Sarah-Bess’ room. Then, in a blatant act of defiance, Sunny plowed past her owner, headed back to the warm spot on Dorothy’s bed and laid… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    now I get it. Love the scene and I can see one of my dogs dign the same things.

    adrien leslie

    thanx barb…means a lot coming from you–

    adrien leslie

    We re not just twins…we re dog people!

    adrien leslie

    네! Yes

    david lemke

    First page of “The Cat Complains” There may be a newer version on my desk top, but that’s in the shop this week. The Cat Complains                by David W. Lemke Necromancer complains. She’s not a young cat. She has suffered, though never in silence. The immediate concern of her impending cruel and painful death, clearly brought on by the un-thoughtfulness of a nearly half-empty dish, is expounded upon. “Bad human,” she meows. “Bad minion.”            Mackenzie ignores Necromancer’s dire triad. Taking her not-yet-coffee from the now pinging microwave, Mackenzie moves debris aside with the back of her hand, pulls out the jar… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    I like this. I get the complaining cat and their “I’m dying” sounds. I get the coffee and needing to feel like you are working.

    Silke

    My cats also have great disdain for their humans. Love that description!

    stephen Glick

    Bill, looks to the sun rise .He wonders with concern if his new friend on messenger will continue to ask him personal questions. Bill hopes the one sided conversation will cease. How embarrassing that he has allowed a stranger into his life , so easily. He takes a long sip of his hot Jamaican coffee. Then Bing! This is a new idea for my next novel.

    Barbara Mealer

    Has great possibilities with an internet friend/stalker/(enter what they really are) with him not wanting the intrusion but still anxious to see what the person will ask or do next.

    John Liebling

    Not sure it is my best, but certainly most recent. First two and a half pages, from my Chapter Ten. We are broken. Darkness fills our lungs. In our fetal position, we are untouchable, unconnected, and undead. Lacerated loneliness. Life’s latent labyrinth, lambastes ludicrous loophole. Harrowing hardships hobbled historical heroics. Calm, silent, blackness penetrates, perpetrates, and perpetuates. We are in physical, and emotional shock. Mama. Papa. I am too young, to be alone. Where are you? Somebody, please help me. If loved ones became missing persons, local police or FBI would investigate clues; follow leads, eventually find answers. Decade long… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    I’ll be honest here. I have no idea of what this means. Is he dreaming? Is there a purpose to this? I’m getting that he is along and wants his parents but I have no idea of where he is or what is really happening? I can’t comment on the style since I don’t read this type of literature but I do love the play on words and the same sounds, etc. This sounds almost like a child’s vision of things around him were everything is large but him and nothing makes sense in his brain.

    John Liebling

    What I submitted started on page 112. So there is a lot character development and dialog, which took place long before these pages. David Sagacious is nine, when his parents are literally erased from existence. The omniscient POV comes from narrator-David Sagacious, marooned on a planet without time, and he is telling the story of his life as a boy and teen, and the other characters when he is nine-million-years-old. One rule I created, rhyming and alliteration takes place, because that is the only way the nine-million-year-old David can prevent the evil-one-hundred-foot-machine, from discovering his location.

    Elissa Malcohn

    The piano flies apart: keyboard cover, music rack, hinge, pedals smothered in blankets. Falling screws, amputated leg. Off to the side the hand fidgets, twirling the stub. Human teeth bite down as strangers ease the pencil’s home onto its side on a padded board. More blankets. Shrink wrap, crackling, before the other legs come off. Dolly wheels carry the carcass outside; when had the kitchen emptied? The broken ball, left behind in a corner, remains unseen. The stub drops onto a window sill. The streets are clotted with escape vehicles, orderly and eerie on a beautiful day. Commentary: I don’t think in terms of a favorite or best passage. This… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    I would need to know more about what is happening and why to make a decent commentary on it. I can see some of what is happening but I have no context in which to put it.

    Susan

    Like Barbara, I would like to read more, but as the owner of a piano I like the description of it, and I want to know why it fell apart. This is a scene I imagine, terrified, every time the movers move my piano! I think the use of a pencil stub as a POV character is ingenious.

    Elissa Malcohn

    No worries; this is what actually happens (minus the dramatic language). My father was a piano teacher, but I had never personally seen a piano being moved. Thank goodness for YouTube. I watched this and other videos and took notes: https://youtu.be/HN8LgrBB89o

    Susan

    Thank you for that. Very interesting. That never happened with my very old, very used upright, though. Then again, only once did I hire professional “piano” movers, but usually went with Two Guys and a Truck or Hernia Movers (The Potentate of Totin’ Freight); and they did it perfectly. (Is it okay to plug a business like that?) I just am naturally over-anxious about certain things. Do you play piano?

    Elissa Malcohn

    That name is perfect (I’d say the name itself is worth the plug). I imagine moving an upright is fairly different from moving a grand, since the upright is more compact. I used to play piano — could carry a tune because I’m good at playing by ear, but I’m a lousy sight reader. My last musical feat was winning a songwriting contest in 2010.

    Elissa Malcohn

    I’d been debating with myself whether to give you a teaser or just let the days unfold de novo. Finally decided a teaser would be fun.

    Tadd

    This is two chapters together, following two separate groups (who are all friends), but they dovetail well, and they’re short since I cut off the rest of the second chapter. Just a fun little traveler’s tale on the way to adventure: The freshly shod horses paced slowly along the Trader’s Road, leaving Milarna and its wonderful fare behind. Vertigaard was telling a decidedly bawdy tale in his native language, judging by Daeren’s lusty laughter and hand gestures.   Sethra rode ahead a bit, partially for the view, and partially to hide her growing annoyance. She had never been sure how… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    You hinted at a cave and something in it, that got my attention. Both chapters are stressing the oafish tales of female conquest that are similar but enough different to keep interest.

    Tadd

    I enjoyed the idea of the running joke, as well…Sethra was sure her good friend wasn’t hearing the juvenile stories, and as it turns out, yes, she was! :rolleyes: I think that’s the one strength I think I might have in writing, the friendship conversations and how they interact with each other.

    Tadd

    Well, I haven’t really written a lot this year, but I like to inject some periodic humor into my mostly serious fantasy (I hate to say epic when I’m just learning, it sounds wrong…) story, and while I have written a few chapters that I do think maybe are a bit better, this one didn’t give away much, either :P That being said, I feel like I can do these fun little ‘friends figuring each other out thing’ less badly than other parts. ROFL!

    Tadd

    Yes, still learning. Always learning! And I thank you kindly for the compliment, it is nice to hear, especially from someone who has a lot more experience with the craft. yes, this is the story that I had written about 7 ‘chapters’, then left for another artform, actually more than one since I had started drawing and then went into making chain maille for almost 20 years. So now I’m starting my third year of wading into 120k words of first draft (including the early stuff) and it’s only maybe half done according to my notes/outline/plothole filling guidelines LOL! What’s… Read more »

    Tadd

    Thank you :D The funny part is that Sethra is one of the side characters, but somehow I guess I ‘feel’ her more? So I ended up making her more interesting somehow?? I can’t explain it but she is a stronger character to me, also. Sometimes I think she is a stronger character than my MC’s. Once I get this first draft finished, (or get some people to read what I have finished) I’ll need to work on that.

    Last edited 10 days ago by Tadd
    Linda Hanna Lloyd

    This passage is from a sequel I am writing to my first historical novel, The Syrian Peddler. The sun was shining sprinkling shadows through the trees on the sidewalk. They walked together past Vignoli’s Drugstore. Linda stopped to look up at the red awning over Gidu’s store window and then looking at the window, “Daddy, look.” I pointed to a pair of black patent Mary Jane shoes. Louie looked down in her deep brown eyes, “Let’s see if Gidu has your size.” Louie was a handsome young man with dark curly hair and the deep brown eyes that said everything.… Read more »

    Linda Hanna Lloyd

    “After Linda said “Daddy,look” the I should be She pointed…

    Barbara Mealer

    Nice scene. I can imagine the little girl’s love shiny shoes and I remember the Mary Janes and loved them.

    Linda Hanna Lloyd

    I have fond memories of my Syrian grandmother’s lentils and many memories of my grandfather’s store, Hanna”s Department Store in Masontown, PA. Those sliding ladders to reach high shoe boxes and I love black patent shoes!

    Brian Gonzales

    Simon loved skeletons. At four years old, they were his favorite thing in the world. He was perfectly fine with baseball or frisbee. Loved his Legos and his superhero toys—Spider-Man was the end all and be all…of superheroes. No no… skeletons.  That was the passion. They were his friends. His best skeleton friend was Ian…which is a long story, so…sit. Ian was a grim reaper statue from Halloween that moved and made spooky noises. Simon hated loud noises, so the batteries and tiny speakers were removed. Simon supplied all the noises and vocal tics that Ian would ever need. Specifically,… Read more »

    Brian Gonzales

    This is from one of three things I’ve been working on.
    I don’t know if it’s the best thing I’ve written in 2020, but it’s the first chapter of what is currently my favorite thing to work on.
    I figured the opening chapter set the tone (or by nature, lack of one) for the story and was more accessible out of context.

    A lot of it circles around stories of the real Simon, now 7 years old, and even more macabre than at 4.
    He is currently balancing fascinations between Elvis and Dr. Moreau.

    Christina Del Pozzo

    This is a letter to my only child, to be read upon my death. It is a work in progress, chronicling my life. I started this during the shut-down of Covid19 because I am among the vulnerable. Mortality is a daily concern. Dear Franco,              You once marveled at all I have done in my life. In truth, I muddled my way through life, responding and reacting to my circumstances. I can almost point to a person or situation with each change I have made in my life. Any success I’ve won in my 70 years came about in round-about,… Read more »

    Christina Del Pozzo

    I try to stay chronological, however, as when I am speaking directly to my son, I tend to relate the past to the present. There are times when I am speaking about my early years of marriage, I remember something from childhood that should be told, in order to clarify the present topic. In the past, I wrote my mother’s life story and had no problem staying in chronological order. Although her story was anecdotal, it was a family history that was driven by dates. Yes, I am having fun with this project. The COVID19 crisis has given me two… Read more »

    KevinW

    The night had burned, molten and sparking like melted iron ore, like blood running to fill the cracks in the pavement. Now the world had become the hardened steel, dead and gray-black. Ash in the sky, in his eyes, in his mind. Sleep was a dream he would never know again…Dusty was dead. He knew it, he’d seen the remains of the blasted corpse. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t think except to remember a fat General on a screen once, long ago, – “if you tell yourself you’re already dead, and you believe it, then you can move forward without… Read more »

    Christine Rhodes

    May I ask how this scene came to be?

    KevinW

    Every time I tried to write anything, it seemed like Post-Apocalyptic Dawn Patrol Warrior showed up. He was starting to annoy me. I dunno, too much Braking Bad was getting to me, maybe? I finally started on his story just to park him someplace and get his ugliness out of my head…so I did feel I “accomplished” something…

    Christine Rhodes

    I do wonder at the propensity of the human mind to cling to carnage. It is apparent in society, no one person suffers alone, although our thoughts tell us otherwise. I have a unique perception of this as my personal hecatomb napalmed after living with black mold then receiving steroids for the subsequent cough. If writing helps your mind to release darkness, by all means, you are on the right path. Although, from the experience I have garnered… sometimes you have to turn away from what your mind wants. Only you know what will work in your skin and if… Read more »

    Rose Long

    An excerpt from the book I have been working on …. I sat trying to remember every day I had with her. She was my entire world. She was the first person I thought of when I got up in the morning and the last person I thought of when I went to bed at night. She was the first person I wanted to call when something good or bad happened. She was the one who dried my tears when I got my heartbroken the first time and when I got rejection letters from 3 of the 4 law schools… Read more »

    Christine Rhodes

    I know this relationship. I was heartened at the daughter receiving one acceptance, and participated in the emotional memories. Thank you.

    Rose Long

    Thank you Christine : ) I appreciate the feedback and am touched that it spoke to you.

    Rose Long

    It is just a portion of a fictional book I am working on. I don’t know if it is the “best” thing I have written but I do feel like it was one of the parts of the book that I put a lot of emotion into and wanted some feedback from others on it. ~ thanks for asking : )

    Christine Rhodes

    The first pages of my manuscript. While it follows current events with broad brush strokes, COVID-19 will not happen until the third book in the series as this one begins August 2018. Here goes nothing… Nine children, eleven callings. The author of the series is the mate of the first born, Thayne, her name is Christine. Page one: I beseech thee, unknown and known, wind, sky, spirit, and earth below, sun’s pure light and moon’s hallowed frost; fellow our energies to hold aloft. In the blessed and guided hours, I will fill your pages with our divine powers. I ask… Read more »

    Last edited 8 days ago by Christine Rhodes
    Christine Rhodes

    Thank you, David! This is the first in a ten book series, and an eleventh being a “prequel”. So, you know, nothing to ambitious for a first project! The first book is titled “From the Vault of Hell’s Ledger ‘Children of the Bell’, ~ The Human Pantheon Tomes I will write a synopsis, I have spent an hour writing and rewriting on this page, lol. Think I will just take it to the computer! Will post when finished. Don’t even know wht angle to write from yet, though! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This is something in the works and I have support through… Read more »

    Charles Dikmak

    Paying Zeus a Visit My cousin Marie and I were on the trail I had imagined and dreamed of for so long…… hiking up Mount Olympus!  It was a quite a long distance and many hours of travelling to the trailhead: Boston to Munich, Munich to Frankfort, Frankfort to Thessaloniki and finally Thessaloniki to Litochoros a beautiful Greek village at the foot of Mount Olympus. It was another 7 kilometers through the forest that surrounded Litochoros and the lowest reaches Mount Olympus at the start of the trail upward. This was not some reality show, not some theme park, not… Read more »




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