Author, Books, Fiction, Novel, Reading, Writing

What’s your most memorable scene?

I need a little break from work today, so I’d like to start a book discussion. Kayla Olson recently blogged about loving the last scene in her novel. She asked her readers if they had such a scene in their writing. I replied that I did, but those scenes might not be favorites with my readers.

Her question started me thinking about memorable scenes in the novels I’ve read. Some, of course, are pivotal scenes, ones destined to become famous, but not all. Some resonate with me on a level not shared by everyone. As we’ve discussed before, reading is subjective. We each filter what we read through our thoughts, feelings, and memories, and it’s with that criteria we choose our favorites.

It need not be the whole scene that grabs us. Sometimes it’s just a paragraph or two, often descriptive. One such passage for me appears in the first chapter of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. In one paragraph, she creates the book’s world for me.

Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first new it. In rainy weather, the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.

Please share a memorable passage from a book you love or, if you’re feeling contrary, maybe you’d like to share an illustration why you didn’t care for a particular book. I doubt we’ll all agree on either, but the discussion should be interesting. We might even discover new books to add to our To Read shelves.

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20 thoughts on “What’s your most memorable scene?”

  1. I don’t mean to be lazy, but I can’t seem to narrow it down to one scene. I do have an opening line that haunts me on a regular basis, from Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

    I’m also fascinated by what Tricia wrote. First of all, I love Ian McEwan, and Saturday is in my TBR pile so I think now need to move it up. It’s exactly right that men tear off the onion skin — at least my man does. I never consciously noticed that before, although I do notice all the pieces of skin dropped on the floor 😉

    More than anything, Tricia, I love what you wrote about writing “like a man”. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about writing fast, and not over-thinking things. I had this experience yesterday as I described to my husband some plot points that I thought were “a mess” and he said, those are minor and could be easily fixed. When I started re-reading the manuscript and making notes, I realized he was right.


    1. Sorry, Cathryn, I think I was asking too much. I can see why you would cite that opening line. A peek through the windows to discover a person or family’s particular brand of unhappiness is what you write best. 🙂

      Okay, now I’m too curious. How do you and Tricia peel an onion, if not by tearing off the skin?


      1. By not taking half the onion with it. I take only the peel, not the first two layers of onion. Men are more concerned with getting it done. I want to conserve onion.


    2. Cathryn, today I woke with every intention of writing like a man–meaning already querying agents by day’s end. Then I started laundry, unloaded the dishwasher, set out the trash cans … I failed.


  2. Thank you everyone, especially Linda for this great topic – now I have about 5 more TBR books on my never-ending pile. And please, all of you – read Saturday ASAP!! My husband – I’m not sure how he peels onions – recommended this book to me and it has always haunted me. Fabulous book.


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