My tastes in books tends to be a bit eclectic. I have Japanese thrillers, historical fiction, contemporary British, history, philosophy, fantasy, horror and science fiction (to name a few). There is no predicting what will capture my attention on a given day when I wander into Waterstone’s on Princes Street. When I go in, I tell myself that I won’t buy anything. I’ll just browse. I’ve written before about how libraries and bookshops calm me. You can measure my mood by the weight of my shopping bag.
As I looked at my overflowing bookcase at home, deciding what to read, I couldn’t decide. So, I selected five book at random and began to flick through them. I came across a passage in one of them and stopped.
“There’s only one way to overcome the fear: you’ve got to stab someone else with an ice pick.” (from: Piercing, Ryu Muurakami)
Interesting, I thought. Curious of what the others contained, I flicked through them and stopped at random pages. I closed my eyes for a moment, and letting my fingers guide me through the pages, I stopped somewhere in the middle of each. I opened my eyes letting them rest on any sentence they chose first, then marked the line. When I had done this with every book, I copied each line and this is what I got:
“I understand, though,” Mr. Lettreblair continued, “that she attached no importance to the money. Therefore, as the family say, why not let well enough alone?” (from: The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton)
“Before they has reached the top the painter threw the door wide open and with a deep bow invited K to enter.” (from The Trial, Franz Kafka)
“Oh Grady, I’m so glad you’re there. So many bad things are happening at once.” (from: Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon)
“He looks at his watch. It is twenty to one, which is not bad, and he won’t even mentions she’s late. This is what he’d call within bounds.” (from: The Kiss, Joan Lingard)
These are all buried deep within the pages of very different books by authors that span from 1920 to 2002. The authors were Japanese, Scottish, American and Czech.
So, faced with the range of where the lines and books come from, it’s not impossible to picture a scenario where these lines might well fit together.
Try this: Pick five books, pick five lines at random and see if you can create a scene or a storyline where they might all fit.
Writing Prompt: Creating the perfect fit