A well-written line can change a story. Stringing together the perfect words can add notoriety, depth, humor, mystery, poetry, or truth to what is being written. “To be or not to be” calls to mind Shakespeare just as easily as “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” reminds us of Charles Dickens. And who upon reading the line, “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it”, didn’t find their curiosity piqued to know what C.S. Lewis found so repulsive about the boy? These are classic lines that have been parodied and parroted since they were written.
However, lesser known authors aren’t necessarily lesser authors when it comes to crafting a great line. It’s no secret that Kristen Heitzmann is my favorite Christian author. One of the reasons is her ability to tell the truth, even the ugly truth, in a way that is beautiful and meaningful. In Secrets she states, “Life was fragile, and the shadows left behind touched those who came after.” It’s a line full of the reality of life’s pain, but the poetic way it is phrased doesn’t slice the reader to the core, leaving them defenseless against the truth.
Even beginning writers are capable of this artistry. I am a member of a local Christian writers’ group. We edit each other’s work and provide feedback. Looking through the comments on each story, it is not unusual to find, “love the way you say this” or “this paints such a vivid picture”. One night Brenda shared her newest chapter with the rest of the group. As she read it, we were drawn in. When she was done, we sat there in stunned silence. They were just words on a page, but the way Brenda used them created a clear image of both the physical happenings and the emotional effects. It made a difficult scene a pleasure to read.
While our favorite books mean a lot to us and certain lines will always jump off the page, connecting us in new ways to the stories we read, they all fall short in comparison to the power of the Word of God. Scripture tells us God’s word is different. It was not birthed out of our limited mortal minds and imaginations. God gave the word. Hebrews 4 tells us God’s word is alive and active and sharp, cutting to the truth of what’s in our hearts. It is useful to equip believers to do God’s will. It is our guide, and it endures forever. It is true and it is always right. The longest chapter in scripture, Psalm 119, is devoted to the Word of God. Scripture can just as easily correct me as encourage me. It can give me hope, joy, and purpose. And each time I read it, I can come away with a new insight into who God is and who I am to Him. Each line is a line that makes a difference now and for eternity.
By the Book: Share your favorite quote from a book and/or your favorite quote from scripture in the comments below. My favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”