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Little Wonders

Photo courtesy of travelswithdiesel.com

Last weekend, for the first time all summer, the stars and the weather were all perfectly aligned for a hike in Glacier National Park. After much debate due to the nearly endless number of possibilities, we settled on the trail to Red Rock Falls, which begins near the Many Glacier Lodge (pictured above).

Yes, wow. And it’s ten times more amazing in person.

It’s easy to get completely overwhelmed by the eye-popping grandeur of the mountains, the lakes, the waterfalls. Nearly impossible for your brain to absorb so much beauty in one short afternoon. Or a lifetime. But on this particular day, I decided to concentrate on the smaller picture.

That’s the thing about Glacier. Everywhere you look, there is wonder. In the intricate, swirling grain of a weathered log:

In the trunks of quaking aspens, contorted by the crushing weight of winter snow, but never defeated:

In a miniature garden of ferns and lichen, sprouting from a sheer rock face:

Even in the things that make you shiver, like the fresh claw marks of a bear establishing the boundaries of his range:

And of course, Red Rock Falls was well worth the hike:

Oddly enough, there is a point to this blog post. Like a hiker in Glacier National Park whose attention is riveted by the dramatic vistas, we as writers can sometimes get caught up in marching from peak to peak, using what comes between merely as a path to the next Big Moment. And yet, as a reader, most of my favorite experiences in the company of a good book are small ones. A wisecrack that makes me laugh. A brief, compelling description that sticks in my head long after The End.  How much less would I have enjoyed the ride if these writers had rushed past those moments to get to something more important.

Here are three examples, from three very different writers, all of which tickled my funny bone or my imagination.

Nora Roberts, Sanctuary:

Night was deep, the breath of it moist from the sea. The only sound to disturb it was of wind rustling through the leaves of the great oaks and the dry clicking–like bony fingers–of the palm fronds.

Talk about setting a mood. The part about the bony fingers…hair standing up on the back of your neck yet?

Bill Cameron, Lost Dog:

“Jesus, Pete, I must be out of my mind. If you turn out to be Ted Bundy, I am so going to kill you.” (Ruby Jane)

“I’ve been through worse,” Ruby Jane said. “I saw Jewel in concert.”

Do you really need to know any more about Ruby Jane than what you learned from those two lines of dialogue?

Hal Ackerman, Stein, Stoned:

Traffic on the 405 was tighter than a spastic colon.

Not much I can add to that.

So now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite line or two from your favorite author, or from something you’ve written? Something that really resonates, that your beta reader circles and marks with smiley faces and exclamation points? I’ve got a few that I like a lot in my current book, but since some of them involve spoilers, I’ll go with my favorite character description:

She walked like she was setting out to invade the neighboring county and expected to kick ass.

Your turn.


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6 Responses

  1. There was a loud bang, a flash erupted from the gun barrel, and the chicken carcass jumped on its plate.

    “Holy mother of God!” my mother shrieked, leaping to her feet, knocking her chair over.

    “Dang,” Grandma said, “guess I left the wrong hole empty.” She leaned forward to examine her handiwork. “Not bad for my first time with a gun. I shot that sucker right in the gumpy.”

    One For the Money – Janet Evanovich

    “I shot a chicken once,” Grandma explained to Morelli. “It was an accident.”

    I could see Morelli searching for a reply. “Where did you shoot it?” he finally asked.

    “In the gumpy,” Grandma said. “Shot it clear off.”

    Two for the Dough – Janet Evanovich

  2. Oh, good one, Cyndi!

    I love Grandma Mazur. And Evanovich ranks right up there as the Queen of One Liners.

  3. I love Janet Evanovich there are so many funny lines in those books.

  4. Heather,

    I wish I’d had time to dig out my Crusie books last night. If Evanovich is Queen, then Crusie is the Goddess.

  5. heh. these are all really great.

  6. Those are good. I love something funny that make me laugh out loud. Nothing better 🙂

    I think the Grandmother Tucker quotes I had in my book were fun. I got many of them from my own grandmother.

    My favorite is “They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. There are other ways, trust me. But they’re a bit more dangerous and could get you pregnant.” Grandmother Tucker after watching The Barefoot Contessa one afternoon.

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