[LMB] As my Lady commands: Crosspost on quotes from Baen's Bar

vlecuyer at ksu.edu vlecuyer at ksu.edu
Tue Dec 6 18:53:24 GMT 2005

Someone posted a quotation reference site on the Baen list. (I'm
communicating remotely, today, so I don't have my reference handy.)
Lois had quite a few entries on it, and it got her thinking about good
quotes versus just quoting favorite lines. I respectfully disagreed
with her observations. The exchange is below. (crossposted at her
suggestion, btw)

Does anyone have additional thoughts they want to add? Disagreements?
Duelling examples?


----begin crosspost----

>I have to say you write good
>stories with a lot of good
>scenes. However,
>you have a pithy turn of
>phrase that transcends mere
>"scene-ry" based
>punch lines. In my opinion,
>people confuse favorite lines
>with great
>A good quote from a book has
>to be:
>1) Complete. It must stand on
>it's own. No supporting scenes
>needed or
>wanted. People who haven't
>read the book don't need to
>know the rest.
>2) Pithy. Preferably one
>sentence, but certainly no
>more than three in
>very wordy cases.
>3) Profound.  It has to have
>meaning outside of and
>independent from the
>story that houses it.  It must
>function independent of it's
>Frex -- Great quotes:
>--"The one thing you can't
>trade for you heart's desire
>is your heart."
>--"Reputation is what other
>people know about you. Honor
>is what you
>know about yourself.
>--"My home is not a place, it
>is people."
>--"Suicidal glory is the
>luxury of the irresponsible.
>We're not giving
>up. We're waiting for a better
>opportunity to win.
>--"His mother had often said,
>When you choose an action, you
>choose the
>consequences of that action.
>She had emphasized the
>corollary of this
>axiom even more vehemently:
>when you desired a
>consequence, you had
>damned well better take the
>action that would create it."
>This one
>stretches pithy to its limits.
>If it were me, I would have
>posted it
>differently. "...When you
>choose an action, you choose
>the consequences
>of that action ... when you
>desired a consequence, you had
>damned well
>better take the action that
>would create it."
>A favorite line is very much
>like a punch line. Like #2 for
>Good Quotes
>it's pithy. It distills the
>essence of the scene, but it
>looses most, if
>not all, meaning when
>separated from its context.
>However, it lacks
>numbers 1 and 3.
>Frex -- Favorite Lines:
>--"Ivan, you idiot. What are
>you doing here?" 1) This is
>obviously part
>of a conversation because of
>the interrogatory. So Quote
>requirement #1
>fails.  However, when you know
>the scene it comes from, and
>the history
>of these two, you realize that
>Simon can be more affable than
>normally appears and Ivan more
>heroic/responsible/caring than
>he appears.
>--"Miles remembered what
>happened the last time he went
>fishing."  This
>is both a reminder of a
>favorite scene from another
>book and a signal
>for upcoming adventure.
>--"I'm so tired I can't get
>up, nor stand on my feet,
>either."  Alone,
>this is merely lewd.  Taken in
>context, it's a pun combined
>with the
>implied proposition. Not the
>first thing I expected to read
>when Ista
>and Illvin are filthy,
>exhausted and slumped against
>the wall waiting
>for the next attack. It brings
>a smile to my face every time.
>--"Shopping."  Well that's one
>thing to call a raid that ends
>in taking
>someone's head off his
>baenmilestogo Listmanager
>>From: "Lois Bujold"
>>An awful lot of the power of my best passages depends not on the words
on that page, but on the words on all the pages that went before.  This
is, I think, an example; it's like the punch-line without the joke.
>>Many years ago, during an internet discussion of my work, a, shall we
say, somewhat self-assured literary type was demanding examples from
Bujold works of sentences of "fine prose", of which he plainly thought
there were none.  Belatedly, I thought of offering up "Ivan, you idiot.
 What are you doing here?" as an example, and assuring him it had been
known to make readers break down and weep.
>>A story isn't only in the sentences.  It's also in what's between.
>>Musing, L.
----end crosspost----

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