• The Best Passage You’ve Written in 2019

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 67 comments
    Oct
    26

    Discussion questions: What is the best passage you’ve written this year? From fiction to non, poetry to screenplay, even text message or email, have you written anything this year that has made you sit back for a moment and think, “Wow, I’m a talented writer!” And, most importantly, are you willing to share it with us? If so, copy/paste it in the comments below. Provide some context if it’ll help, or let your words speak for themselves.

     

    Every so often, maybe a handful of times a year, I’ll impress myself with my own writing. Usually it’s during the revision stage; I’ll reread a passage I wrote a few weeks earlier and catch myself thinking, “Hot damn, that’s pretty good writing.”

    (I’ll then immediately try to talk myself out of it — “Eh, it’s not really that good” — but that’s fodder for a different post.)

    Now that I’m back to my novel, I had one such experience just the other day. Reading through Chapter 4, I laughed out loud. And not in the bad/ugly way. And that, my friends, is about as good as it gets for me.

     

    For most of us, such moments are few and far between. I don’t know many writers who are often impressed with their own work. Most writers are made up of 60 percent water, 12 percent caffeine, and 28 percent self-hatred. (I can’t believe I nailed that math.)

    So when these moments do come along, it’s important to celebrate them.

    That’s what I want us to do this week: Celebrate ourselves, and each other.

     

    In the comments below, I would like for you to copy/paste the best passage you’ve written this year. The passage that made you think, “Wow, did I really write that?!”

    It can be fiction or non; poetry or screenplay/stageplay; or anything else.

    Provide some context, if you think it’s necessary, or let the words speak for themselves.

    I don’t want to set a word count; just use your judgment. It can be a line, it can be a paragraph or two. If you’re impressed by your entire novel, hey, that’s great. But pick out your favorite passage rather than share the whole thing.

    And while you’re here, read through a few of your fellow writers’ passages. Does a particular passage impress you? If so, say so! A little encouragement goes a long way.

     

    Oh yeah, and speaking of your best work, don’t forget: You still have a few more days to enter the current Micro Fiction Challenge!

     

    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 2019 writing project you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

     

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    Raymundo

    Don’t know if this is my best for 2019, but my writers’ group seemed to like it: Mithra lies on her stomach beside him, sleeping. The furs that had protected their love-making from the cold are kicked off. He lowers his face into the green shock of her hair and kisses her neck. Her soft moan rises from the dreamless sleep of her kind. Maybe she is dreaming—her first one and it’s of him. The green hue of her naked back seems to glow in the hut’s near-dark. With a finger, he traces her spine’s length and watches the aural… Read more »

    Renee Burreson

    2019 has been a year of chances. Some of the greatest risks I took was submission and self-publication. This is one of the poems from my book, Breakthrough. It is one of the few works I can look back on and go: “I wrote that,” and take some pride. Boundaries Self-respect to know, when personal limitations are reached, and the time has come to walk away. Strength not to listen, and get taken in by words, said with the intent to invalidate, demean, or condemn. Determination to stay strong, and not cave in out of guilt, for fear of not… Read more »

    Susan

    Strength not to listen is a line I needed to read. Thank you.

    Mary Lane Porter

    I love this! It is very relevant to what I’ve been experiencing as well. Thank you for sharing!

    stephen Glick

    this is a passage from my first novel which is at the publishers now. Faith do you feel a house can be born evil? From the ground through it’s beams and glass and all who live in it are evil?

    Jamie Arnett

    The fate of the day was left to the cards. A little excitement in what would have been an otherwise uneventful Saturday. The cards lay on the flowered bedspread, already shuffled, revealing only the top card. The randomness was important. Without it the day would look like any other, and that is what Liza was trying to avoid.

    david lemke

    I don’t have a best of 2019 because everything written this year is first draft. I have to back up a few year to find something I liked: Fred injects himself into the inner city slums like a hot red needle, aglow with anticipation. His aliveness vibrates. Although life is unlivable most of the time, there are moments. Fred can already smell the freebase. Nothing smells like it. Nothing else has the feel. Fred hates the idea of turning scary fifty today. The shock leaves him open mouthed. Is he still beautiful? Steering one handed with a good gangster lean,… Read more »

    david lemke

    My brother Fred was a thief, an addict, handsome, creative and talented. He died a few years back. After my sister and I would not take the thievery any more, (he stole from our kids) he was arrested and imprisoned in and out and back in again. He learned ceramics and painting in prison and created some amazing stuff. We were both there for him when he died. He was our brother after all.

    Catherine

    This is from a set of poems called “Circa Flores” and in particular, a poem in the set called “Rose” having much to do with rose gardens:

    You talked with the owners
    not of beauty
    but pedigree
    the clever minds
    that had grafted and coaxed,
    sidelining the Almighty.

    I stood silent witness
    to your laud of man
    marveling that
    you could not see
    the warmth of every blossom.

    I touched
    a thorn and bled.
    You slapped me.
    As if blood were not
    punishment enough

    As if
    the sun did not glare
    on your Frankenstein landscape.

    Susan

    This is beautiful and scary, and I get a chill on both accounts. The Almighty in the first stanza countered by the monster in the last, and the single word ‘glare’ was perfectly chosen and says it all.

    KevinW

    This whole piece…the Frankenstein theme of man playing God…”sidelining the Almighty”…”your laud (lord) of man”…brilliant…

    Amanda

    “sidelining the Almighty” is a powerful line.

    david lemke

    I rarely write or read poetry so I’m no expert, but I know good writing and this is that.

    JohnDavid

    Expeditiously ethereal. Emit’s edification eclipsed. Egregiously electrifying ego, enthusiastically endangers every entity. This tampering, tangential tinderbox. Trickster’s traitorous trajectory. Tempestuously tactile transmogrifying. Tremendously triumphant turpitude, twisting tyrannical tutelage. Terrorist typhoon, targets torrid, transcendentally totalitarian, translucent time. Malevolent Time spews black corrosive saliva. Black flames breech forward. Blindness follows. Imminent immolation erupts! Emit’s cell structure dissolves, leaking out into the perverse multiverse. Talk about needle in a haystack. how can God find those sub-atomic righteous cells and restore his beloved son? Righteous cells cold never remain part of Emit, they are Malevolent Times’ only Kryptonite. Emit’s righteous flesh slowly ripped from… Read more »

    Susan

    yikes. There’s something altogether alarming about aggressive alliteration. Especially with the letter T. This passage is powerful. I feel hammered. I hope Malevolent Time just won a battle here and not the war.

    JohnDavid

    Minor and major tweaks over hundreds of pages. God’s first son. Happily exploring the early Multiverse, when he is corrupted by Malevolent Time. Emit (time backwards) is turned into the evil 100 foot machine I-T.

    JohnDavid

    David pushes against unexplained force. That force feeds off our strength. I could not save, those I love more than life I-T-Self. That boy watches every athletic first place trophy and ribbon won by his parents, erased by fuchsia energy. Floor board by floor board, wall panel by wall panel, brick by brick, shingle by shingle, every particle of our home, erased form existence. Proof I was love, deleted by onerous time. Room by room. Every book, every birthday card, every picture erased form what was my happy reality. Confused. Terrified. We defiantly stand, in the center of our vanishing… Read more »

    Bobbie

    Shelby didn’t care what he had planned for her. When he didn’t speak again, she made her decision. Going to the door of the club house, she didn’t look back to see if he was following. Within the hour, she was standing on her cliff, watching the sun slip toward the horizon. One of them wouldn’t be walking away from here. At this point in time, she didn’t care which one it was. Arlen’s hand on her shoulder had her stiffening. He removed it, turning his back to the drop-off. “What can I do to make things better for you?”… Read more »

    Bobbie

    It’s from a book I just wrote that needs a lot of editing. That particular passage was one I enjoyed writing. Shelby is trying to get her life pulled together but she soon discovers that there is a lot more going on than she has learned over the years. It’s a story filled with twists and turns including Arlen falling to his death.

    JohnDavid

    Targeted tactical tingles, forces far-reaching fearless fuchsia energy. Elegant emissary encroaches. Encumbered. Entrapped. Enthralled. Euphoric. Expiring endorphins – end. I am iridescent incongruity. Every squirrel. Bird in the sky. Dog on a leash. Human out for a walk, or run, are frozen in time. We were not strong enough to save you. Gigantic eraser descends, exterminating Mama’s and Papa’s Feet, torso, arms, chin, hair, nose, and eyebrows. Long fuchsia finger nails meticulously uprooting, getting rid of and expunging every molecule. Every atom. We are forced to watch I-T all. Do you know how that feels? Watching an eraser three times… Read more »

    JohnDavid

    Here! I have not fear, peer, loved one so dear. I shall be your prognosticator, gesticulator, and communicator. Life is an awful chore. Mi amore. I do adore. Our rapport. Everlasting esprit de corps. Truth – not folklore. Evil’s roar. World War! We’d deplore, abhor, sadistic vore! I-T-S minions are mendacious, rapacious, salacious, voracious. My grand paradigm – destroy Malevolent Time! Emotional cloudburst! Tortured, I am well versed. I cursed, while Nephesh nursed. pain at worst. Dispersed. Submersed. Headfirst, into Century; Twenty-first. tenderness, she was unable to reverse. perverse, cannibalistic thirst, reimbursed. Awake, at daybreak. soul opaque. Identity’s keepsake. Snake!… Read more »

    JohnDavid

    Belittled. Beaten. Besieged. Banished. Bedraggled Burlap boy’s Baptism of fire; features fractured femme fatale. Fiendish fidelity forever fixated. Force of nature. Never-stopping. Nostalgic. Nonconforming nom de plume. Dafna’s death-march deciphers, distracts,and debunks – diddly! Deflated and discouraged. Derisive disdain dominates her doctrine and duty. Child-labor camp. Capricious carnage. Callous. Captivity. Children or chickens? Malevolent menu maximizes marinating mixture. Dafna creates and combats crest-fallen culpability. That Israeli-Jew is defined as cagey, complicated, and cutting edge champion, cognizant of every catastrophic crunch. Anxious agitator, always aware of clandestine cohorts, contemptable cruel conceit, cunning contingent, concealed creepy clique’s culinary culmination. Determined Dafna. Disobedient… Read more »

    JohnDavid

    Burlap boy. Literally war of words betwixt David’s humanity and catastrophic metamorphosis. Images resurface by way of fuchsia electrical energy bursts. Dormant neural connections supercharged. Mentally. Physically. He. I – we, are tormented. Can the hole in our soul mend? Story transcend? Comprehend? Oblivion’s beginning or end? Holding hands. Tears gushing. Grace and Christopher slowly nod. Papa whispers, “Okay doc. We are ready.” Mama and Papa rub our blue fingers and toes. “Right side hot! Left side cold. How could fever be so selective?” Dr. Rossman shakes his head, and pushes black, white, fuchsia buttons, ending our mechanical life support.… Read more »

    Susan

    This is one of the few poems I’ve written that I thought had some promise, and I still want to believe in it. When I read it in a poetry group, though, it met with silence, until one person said, “What’s it about?” Others felt it is not complete, although everyone liked the line about the sleeve at the end. I’m not sure if I’m being too obvious or too obscure. Maybe it’s too preachy. Possibly entirely, blindly naïve. Context. The woman is real and well known to me. She is seen all over town, on the bus, in line… Read more »

    KevinW

    There but for the grace of god…

    SusanH

    Hmm, this comment could have more than one meaning, and it sunk in. Thank you.

    SusanH

    David, thank you so much. What I was trying to convey as a message, although some listeners didn’t think I did so, was that God speaks to the mighty through the lowly but if they are a bit blinded He perhaps has to make a scene. Still, He is ignored. Do I need to add something, or does that come across?
    When did you live on Water and Highland? I worked on Broadway and Wisconsin for many years.

    JohnDavid

    My memories,horrifically complex. Aware am I, of t hat first millisecond of my conception. And the struggle of good and evil. Grand upheaval, failed retrieval. Robust, hulking, massive aliens were/are sent back through Malevolent Time’s vortex; to end me, before I was born. I-T has the punch, mastery, and herculean oomph to traverse every damn multiverse. Here! On this timeless sphere. I adhere. Heroic career, will I-T steer? I am neither cavalier, nor insincere. Oh God.From this place I must disappear. Prophetic mutineer? Sneer. Jeer. Leer. Realm of Watchers. Do you fear, hybrid Ko’ach will engineer, destiny’s auctioneer? Our essence… Read more »

    Tadd

    And yet you didn’t share one of yours… :P C’mon, spill!

    Tadd

    Don’t make us come over there! :D

    Tadd

    The spymaster is meeting the antagonist of my story: The sitting room was obviously designed to impress ostentatiously with its ironwood doors and intricately wrought mouldings, and its plush velvety crimson cushioned furniture tastefully patterned with gold embroidery, supported by carved teak dragons feet. Warm light washed into the room through a large stained glass window that dominated the west wall, the mosaic of shapes assembled in such a way as to create a depiction of some ancient god slaying a gigantic beast. Statues and carvings of many different types and styles adorned the empty spaces, almost seeming more like… Read more »

    Tadd

    This is from the book I’ve been writing, the one I resurrected from 20 years ago? I’d been re writing some of the old chapters, and it led me to this somehow…LOL! Also, this is one of the passages that doesn’t give much away about the plot… :D But I’m quite proud of how it came out, and the oddness that made a pomegranate more precious than gold somehow. This one feels like a part of an epic story, not like something fumbly and crude like I’d usually write, I guess :D

    Tadd

    I thank you kindly, that really means a lot, coming from an actual writer. Being the first time I’ve ever written something, I worry I’m either being too simple, or trying to make it sound ‘epic’ without it being so. I suppose the second draft will be for those kind of judgements. :D Again, thank you, that is a big confidence boost!

    JohnDavid

    Thirty-six earth minutes after Dr. Rossman turned off that life giving machine and he punctures our living rani tissue, fuchsia time sparks erase and reset what was. our brain was never exposed. Our new story plays out differently. Dr. Rossman holds his scalpel, preparing fo our autopsy. Blade inches form our tiny chest. Our little toes wiggle. Lungs jiggle. Bright large eyes giggle. Scalpel drops from shaky grasp, loud gasp…Before eerie metallic ker-plink dissipates. Grinning into his stupid flip phone, Dr. Rossman inflates, and states. “Solonga! he’s alive! David Sagacious. No, no. I am, yes, yes; stone cold sober. Are… Read more »

    JohnDavid

    Rotating vortex filled with every imaginable color of the rainbow. From the center, a massive nine-hundred-ninety-foot hand appears, each digit on this massive hand glows. Two distinct colors emerge. Right hand brilliant blue. left hand purifying brilliant white. For the first time since malevolent Time altered Emit…I-T screams. Ninth righteous geometric symbols arrive with the speed of God. Shrinking down beyond sub-atomic, stuck together by the glue of God’s essence. Not even Malevolent Time can pry those triangle halves apart. Together they form Jewish Star of David. God sends that into my body, heart, mind,and soul. I’ve never felt so… Read more »

    JohnDavid

    Cognition, admission. Failed righteous mission. Tradition! Decomposition! Ubiquitous am I? God’s brig cry. Evil’s big lie. Strident din; Wherein, looney bin; Deprives ultimate win. Where to being? OUR souls; I-T will Jeopardize, Terrorize,and paralyze. I am the devil’s prize. Here! Eternity cries. Hallucination? Malevolent Time’s Play-Station? We are causation; damnation; narration! What a mess! Life’s endless redress. Confess my perpetual SOS. I am an infinite number of birthdates, star gates, checkmates, and dire straits. Surviving multiverses’ vertigo. Decomposing domino. Malevolent Time’s adagio. Apropos. Righteous energy flow – seventy-foot Ko’ach would bestow. Our mission – repetition. Coalition – attrition. Fruition –… Read more »

    Mary Lane Porter

    2019 started as a journey through the familiar after living a year of embracing risks and excitement abroad. Although it has been challenging coming back to the States, I am reconciling parts of my past while working on a writing project to help me move forward. This is a passage from the second children’s book in my genre-bending book series, called “Mary Tales: A Series of Fantastical Adventures”. Book 2, “Haley Winn and the WaterFALL”: “Is this real?” Mary Jo asked. “I thought this was my imagination, or maybe I fell asleep and I‘m dreaming.” “Oh, this is real alright.… Read more »

    Mary Lane Porter

    Thank you, David! I love everything you and Justine do through WriteByNight!

    Dave

    This is a rough draft I wrote down to fix an idea I had about a moment in a cybernetic future a back story for something. Thanks for the look Gregarian, Sergi Gregarian So what do you put into a backstory for an incompletely-programed, Highly-advanced, German-Prototype-android stranded in another country? Start with a touch of information detailing the mechanical attributes perhaps? With the approach of Armageddon what was needed was something more than human, thus Android 001 was born. It all begins with two geeky engineers that got along well enough to share a table in the cafeteria. Each had… Read more »

    david lemke

    I asked a similar question to Mercedes Lackey. Her reply was that, as a novelist she didn’t want to be remembered for a line, but for the whole of the novel.
    Unlike the “Fred” story, where every word was crafted for feel and texture, like in poetry, I mostly write long stuff, and in the first draft, at least I don’t focus on “Good lines” but on getting the story down and fixing problems. Great writing hopefully will appear in the second draft.

    david lemke

    I’ve read some of her work. Though she writes well and moves the story ahead, I can’t say she has any great stand out lines. She’s written 139 (or so)novels both alone or in collaboration.

    david lemke

    That is what she said. She writes over 5 a year. I just now went to a site which listed all her books. Too many to count. So, yeah, she wasn’t making that up. She’s collaborated with C. J. Cherryh, Anne McCaffery, Andre Norton, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Piers Anthony, James Mallory, Roberta Gellis, Dave Freer and Eric Flint.

    david lemke

    From my novel, “Intrusion.”
    On the remains of the kitchen counter, he notices a soot covered wine glass, whole and apparently unaffected by the fire. He reaches out to pick it up by the stem, but at his touch, it collapses into dust and shards. He feels…disappointed. For a moment he thought something survived.

    david lemke

    This aftermath of a fire was taken from personal experience. Home alone, about to take a bath, I escaped in a bathrobe. The cats didn’t and most of our possessions didn’t. I touched a wineglass…

    jane perkins

    this made me laugh out loud when i found it in an old notebook: CANDLELIGHT The candlelight made weird shadows on his face and Julia was put-off sitting across from him, as he now appeared zombie-like. They’d been arguing so she was not exactly unpleased to see half his face melt onto his left shoulder. His wild hair caught the flame, too, and made it appear that smoke rose from his head. Maybe if I push it, his fucking head will explode and I’ll win an argument. Finally. Now his lips, in a sneer, are sliding off of his chin… Read more »

    JohnDavid

    I am pusillanimous pygmy. Vaseline-blurry eye-sight temporarily returns. Tooth-pick adheres like fly-paper to her puffy bottom lip; sucking sounds scares shell out of me. From my perspective her red-wood fingers twirl mastodon tusk-like tooth-pick. Thumping. Teasing. Tickling. Pushing. Puncturing – hardening under belly. My mind’s mercurial misconception; meandering moribund makeover; mayhem mesmerizes madness. Greenie hold infected bloody, mucous-dripping tooth-pick to her cute up-turned nose. Damaged deleterious DNA fingers congeal into tiny David’s new burlap skin; her nostrils flare. Are you mummifying me? You wouldn’t bury me alive? I know you can hear me. I can see your facial expressions. Why… Read more »




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