How to craft a Titanic sentence

Word count: 204

Reading time: Less than a minute

Every Friday I present a sentence of the week I’ve discovered in my reading. Reading closely will help you become a better writer.

I must fall into the 1% of the population that has never seen the James Cameron movie, The Titanic. This wasn’t so much a choice as a natural outcome of having had triplets in 1994. By 1997, when the movie was released, I was knee-deep with three 3-year-olds and had no time for movies.

Still, this year, it’s been hard to ignore the noise surrounding this year’s 100th anniversary of the tragic event. Even the New Yorker weighed in, with an article by Daniel Mendelsohn titled “Unsinkable: Why we can’t let go of the Titanic.” (Published: April 16, 2012.)

This well-crafted piece has also given me my sentence of the week:

There are the oddly revealing decisions: one socialite left his cabin,then went back and, ignoring the three hundred thousand dollars in stocks and bonds that he had stashed in a tin box, grabbed a good-luck charm and three oranges.

I love the detail in this sentence (note the tin box) and the way the author juxtaposes $300,000 with the good-luck charm. But it’s the three oranges that seal the deal for me. I picture them, I even smell them, and perhaps I smell the fear of a man who would leave behind so much money for a good-luck charm.

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