From Katniss Everdeen’s “If we burn, you burn with us,” to Rhett Butler’s (Gone with the Wind) “My dear, I don’t give a damn,” the lines that slap us in the face become the ones we remember. Here’s a short collection of one-liners, plus a little advice for creating your own.
“Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit em, but remember that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” -To Kill a Mockingbird.
“Stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold.” -The Outsiders
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” -The Fellowship of the Ring
“There are few people whom I really love and still fewer of whom I think well.” -Pride and Prejudice
“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” -Slaughterhouse Five
As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once. -The Fault in Our Stars
“He’s more myself than I am.” -Wuthering Heights
“Thats the spirit-one part brave,three parts fool.” -Eragon
We are not strangers to ourselves, we only try to be. -Odd Thomas
“We all float down here!” -It
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” -The Help
“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb.” -Twilight
WICKED is good. -The Maze Runner
“Let us be elegant or die!” -Little Women
“Rattlesnakes would be a lot more dangerous without the rattle. ” -Holes
“Show them how good you are.” -The Hunger Games
“It is not new continents that the earth needs, but new men.” -Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Did any of these quotes ring a bell?Even if you haven’t read any of these books, chances are you’ve heard other people saying them. And if you look closely, you can probably guess why they stick in our heads. They’re SIMPLE. Short, sweet, to the point. Then what makes them so powerful? Did you notice anything else about the catch phrases?….. Almost all of them are dialog. Simple words that have never before been said.
Dialog is generally realistic in our writing. If it feels too akward to say to someone you know, then you may have missed the mark. Nobody in their right mind would say, “My love, my heart aches to be with you, but, alas, it can never be so…” but someone might say instead, “I told myself I didn’t deserve you. And maybe I don’t. But I want you.”
Doesn’t the latter make your heart flutter just a little? Now, what makes people REMEMBER your line?
It has to sum up your entire book in a few short words.
That makes the atom bomb of all super lines explode off the page and force your readers to go back and re-read the whole paragraph just to fall into that moment one more time.
So, lets try this….(remember the line… “I told myself I didn’t deserve you. And maybe I don’t. But I want you.”) Imagine the man speaking is your kind of sexy. The best you can imagine. Now add a little backstory…He’s a loner, a fugitive from justice with a chip on his shoulder, and his heavily protected heart falls for the woman he knows is too saint-like for him. She’s from a small town, volunteers at the local animal shelter, loves sunny days and never swears. But they have something in common–they are both alone. No family, no one they trust enough to call a friend… and they meet. Then they go through hell together.
He feels he isn’t worthy becuse of his sordid past, and she is afraid to embrace her dark side, but they cannot fight their desires.
NOW…. the setting.
The park was gated off after hours, but he busted the lock and drove without the headlights, risking being caught by security. He wanted to show me something. The river frothed below us as we stood, looking into the gorge. His hands wrung the metal railing, causing the muscles in his tattoed forearms to bulge. He was silent, his eyes narrowed, deep in thought. Without thinking, I released the top two buttons of my white blouse, the summer heat scorching. My small act seemed to torture him as his eyes flitted to mine, then to my blouse. He appeared almost angry. I hastily moved to rebutton the blouse but he caught my wrist before I had the chance, then said, “I told myself I didn’t deserve you. And maybe I don’t. But I want you.”
BOOM. Wasn’t that better? After an entire books worth of tension is built on that moment, think you’ll remember that line? Good luck to you as you craft your famous one-liners! Tell me how I did, and thanks for reading!!