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Inspirational passages


Felis amatus
I don't mean inspirational in an overt sense, like passages from a book that intended to inspire one to some act or other. I mean passages that are simply written in a way that makes you want to write, or to write better. What passages can you all share? I'll start with another excerpt from Lawrence Durrell's Justine:

I have been looking through my papers tonight. Some have been converted to kitchen uses, some the child has destroyed. This form of censorship pleases me for it has the indifference of the natural world to the constructions of art--an indifference I am beginning to share. Alter all, what is the good of a fine metaphor for Melissa when she lies buried deep as any mummy in the shallow tepid sand of the black estuary? But those papers I guard with care are the three volumes in which Justine kept her diary, as well as the folio which records Nessim’s madness. Nessim noticed them when I was leaving and nodded as he said:

‘Take these, yes, read them. There is much about us all in them. They should help you to support the idea of Justine without flinching, as I have had to do.’

This was at the Summer Palace after Melissa’s death, when he still believed Justine would return to him. I think often, and never without a certain fear, of Nessim’s love for Justine. What could be more comprehensive, more surely founded in itself? It coloured his unhappiness with a kind of ecstasy, the joyful wounds which you’d think to meet in saints and not in mere lovers. Yet no touch of humour would have saved him from such dreadful comprehensive suffering. It is easy to criticize, I know. I know.​


Article Team
I'm game. One of my favourite authors of all times is Tove Jansson and I very much wish I could write like she does. I don't have access to any version of her books I can copy and paste from, so I'm picking a quote from goodreads.com from my favourite book of hers: Moominland Midwinter:

“There are such a lot of things that have no place in summer and autumn and spring. Everything that’s a little shy and a little rum. Some kinds of night animals and people that don’t fit in with others and that nobody really believes in. They keep out of the way all the year. And then when everything’s quiet and white and the nights are long and most people are asleep—then they appear.”

Link: Moominland Midwinter Quotes by Tove Jansson

I think there may be some forum policy concerns related to quoting longer pieces of someone's work, but if it's just a few paragraphs it's usually okay.


Article Team
I remember reading those as a kid, Svrtnsse. I don't recall that specific book, but that passage has inspired me to get it.
Thanks. That made me really happy to hear. :) I too first read it as a kid, and it's become my Christmas tradition to listen to it on audibook every year. Whenever I get asked to pick a favourite book, that's the one I choose.


Article Team
Oh gosh this is so hard!!!

For me, it was Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, and Earnest Hemingway that made me want to write. All three do something so magical with their prose. It's brevity inspires me. How they can be so deep, yet so concise. No purple prose. No excessive details or descriptions. Every single word means something important and it is pure magic.

Nick looked straight ahead brilliantly. The pink wall of the house opposite had fallen out from the roof, and an iron bedstead hung twisted toward the street. Two Austrian dead lay in the rubble in the shade of the house. Up the street were other dead. Things were getting forward in the town. It was going well. Stretcher bearers would be along any time now. Nick turned his head carefully and looked down at Rinaldi. “Senta Rinaldi. Senta. You and me we’ve made a separate peace.” Rinaldi lay still in the sun breathing with difficulty. “Not patriots.” Nick turned his head carefully away smiling sweatily. Rinaldi was a disappointing audience.

- Hemingway, In Our Time

"Crake!" he yells. "Asshole! Shit-for-brains!"

He listens. The salt water is running down his face again. He never knows when that will happen and he can never stop it. His breath is coming in gasps, as if a giant hand is clenching around his chest - clench, release, clench. Senseless panic. "You did this!" He screams at the ocean.

No answer, which isn't surprising. Only the waves, wish-wash, wish-wash, wish-wash. He wipes his fist across his face, across the grime and tears and snot and the derelict's whiskers and sticky mango juice. "Snowman, snowman," he says. "Get a life."

- Atwood, Oryx and Crake


toujours gai, archie
This is easy. Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles. There are easily a hundred passages in that work I might choose. I grabbed this from the second chapter.

They had a house of crystal pillars on the planet Mars by the edge of an empty sea, and every morning you could see Mrs. K eating the golden fruits that grew from the crystal walls, or cleaning the house with handfuls of magnetic dust which, taking all dirt with it, blew away on the hot wind. Afternoons, when the fossil sea was warm and motionless, and the wine trees stood stiff in the yard, and the little distant Martian bone town was all enclosed, and no one drifted out their doors, you could see Mr. K himself in his room, reading from a metal book with raised hieroglyphs over which he brushed his hand, as one might play a harp. And from the book, as his fingers stroked, a voice sang, a soft ancient voice, which told tales of when the sea was red steam on the shore and ancient men had carried clouds of metal insects and electric spiders into battle.

Seriously, hundreds of passages.


Article Team
I forgot about Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The world had been sad since Tuesday. Sea and sky were a single ash-grey thing and the sands of the beach, which on March nights glimmered like powereder light, had become a stew of mud and rotten shellfish. The light was so weak at noon that when Pelayo was coming back to the house after throwing away the crabs , it was hard for him to see what it was that was moving and groaning in the rear of the courtyard. He had to go very close to see that it was an old man, a very old man, laying face down in the mud, who, in spite of his tremendous efforts, couldn't get up, impeded by his enormous wings.

- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings


Article Team
But, all Hipster-ism Lit geek aside... do you guys want to know what honestly inspired me to sit down and write? This is so embarrassing. Honestly. I don't even want to say it out loud.

It was Terry Goodkind. (Oh, the shame!!!!)

There was something about his writing when I was a kid that felt so, accessible. It was so practical, yet sort of lovely. It wasn't pretentious. It wasn't literary. It wasn't anything except fun reading. I think, when I read it, I realized I could do that. I could write like that too. Then, finding out later he got a $750,000 advance at a publishers auction for his first manuscript... I was sold, lol.

Chapter One

It was an odd looking vine. Dusky variegated leaves hunkered against a stem that wound in a stranglehold around the smooth trunk of a balsam fir. Sap drooled down the wounded bark, and dry limbs slumped, making it look as if the tree were trying to voice a moan into the cool, damp morning air. Pods stuck out from the vine here and there along its length, almost seeming to look warily about for witnesses...

- Terry Goodkind, Wizard's First Rule


Felis amatus
Then, finding out later he got a $750,000 advance at a publishers auction for his first manuscript... I was sold, lol.

Which, incidentally, is the amount Stephanie Meyer got as an advance on her first novel. It's a rarity, but I suppose we can all dream!


Queen of Titania
I have always imagined and loved and told stories, it's not something that somebody caused me to do.

When a story is with me, I just concentrate on telling it. It's my story, and I tell it with my own style and my own personal experience with it because I am the only person in the world that can tell it. Nobody else sees and experiences life and the world and imagination in the way that you do, so nobody else can tell your stories.

I am not trying to imitate anybody, and I never compare either myself or my works with famous others out there. I mean, I am never like Oh I am not as good as Rowling, or Cervantes or Dickens! Why am I doing this? I write stories because it's my nature. Also, I do not care how much money they were offered as advance by some publisher. I am extremely happy being who I am as a storyteller, it's an unbelievable enjoyment and that's all.

However, if you want to know famous passages that I particularly love here is one from a Castilian translation of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende:

El troll de cuatro cuartos, que hasta entonces había mostrado su rostro soñoliento, volvió su rostro alegre hacia adelante y le dijo a Bastián, sin hacer caso alguno de Hykrion:

-Señor, somos príncipes de países muy diversos de Fantasia. Cada uno de nosotros se ha puesto en camino para saludarte y pedirte ayuda. La noticia de tu presencia ha volado de país en país, el viento y las nubes pronuncian tu nombre, las olas del mar anuncian tu fama con su murmullo y cada arroyuelo canta tu poder.

This is part of Chapter 19, in case that you want to read the English translation of this book since the original is German.

Those two paragraphs have stayed with me since the moment I enjoyed them, and the concept represented in them has influenced my love of Fantasy and my views of Magic all these years. To know what is really happening and why that part is so powerful, you would have to read the novel itself.

That's a point that I regard as extremely important:

I have met people capable of writing great scenes, beautiful descriptions and wonderful paragraphs. And yet, they fail completely (or they just suffer like hell) when they try to actually tell a story.

It's the story that does the trick, not the writing.

I am enjoying the concept behind this thread, after all. Thanks Steerpike, great idea. There are other passages from some of my favorite stories that I would like to post here, so I'll be posting some of them in the following days.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the man! No one could mistake a passage of his writing when they come across it, both because of the writing itself, the word choice, and the imagery he evokes. One of the problems, I believe, with much modern fiction is that while the stories are good, the writing is downright boring. The following opening lines from One Hundred Years of Solitude both inspired me to strive for better prose, and also inspired a novel through their vivid imagery:
"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point."
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Queen of Titania
Hello Druid of Winter, it's great to see you around here!

I am very happy to know that reading Gabo's super famous Cien Años de Soledad inspired an entire novel in you, apart from pushing you to develop a better writing style. I have never been too attracted to Gabriel's works even though my father and sister both love him, maybe it's just not my thing.

If you guys love Gabo, it would be great if you could read his books in original language. Translations are never quite the same...

Finding in your favorite authors a motivation to improve your writing style is alright, I can understand that. We all have authors that we love, and as you know I have my literary heroes as well. Still, a potential problem with doing this is that some people end up trying to emulate their favorites and they forget about developing a style and touch of their own.

Another complication comes when people compare themselves to authors and works that they admire a lot, and they realize that their own work is nowhere that good. Then they can feel sad, frustrated or angry, and this is something like a trap.

I have seen this happening to various people, and it can get pretty sad if you ask me. That's why I never do such things. I can read my favorite authors and enjoy their books a lot, without comparisons and without wondering how I could become like them. I know my abilities, I know my style and I know my stories, I enjoy my own works too and I have always been very happy with all of that.

Striving to improve is alright, but it's more important to strive to be ourselves.

Now, another of my favorite parts from The Neverending Story. I am sorry to post this in Castilian, it's just that I do not have any English translation of this wonderful German novel:

Gmork había muerto.

Atreyu se quedó largo rato inmóvil. Finalmente se acercó al hombre-lobo muerto -el mismo no sabía por qué-, se inclinó sobre su cabeza y acarició con la mano su piel velluda y negra. Y en ese mismo instante, más rápidos que el pensamiento, los dientes de Gmork se cerraron, mordiendo la pierna de Atreyu. Hasta mas allá de la muerte, la maldad de Gmork era inmensa.

Desesperado, Atreyu intentó abrir la presa. Fue en vano. Los enormes dientes se hundían en su carne, como sujetos con tornillos de acero. Atreyu se dejó caer junto al cadáver del hombre-lobo, sobre el suelo sucio.

Paso a paso, irresistible y silenciosa, la Nada iba penetrando por todas partes, a través de los altos muros negros que rodeaban la ciudad.

The encounter between Gmork and Atreyu is one of the most memorable parts of the entire novel, a true favorite of many fans. Gmork appears only for a short and yet excellent time, and I remember him very fondly even though he was a villain. I loved how he told his own background story, and those final moments as he died laughing at Atreyu were priceless.

The entire revelation and death scene is too long to post it here, sorry!