Terrified of death’s dress rehearsal…

Word count: 194 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

Each week I identify a sentence from my reading that has interested me. Emulating other writers is a particularly effective way of improving our own writing.

When I read the book The Wife: A Novel, by Meg Wolitzer, I was both dazzled by her writing and appalled by her apparent inability to produce an interesting plot. This book is so tedious and the characters so uninteresting!

That said, Wolitzer gave me my sentence of the week.

“More immediately, he [a central character] was terrified of sleep, death’s dress rehearsal.”

It’s not that the sentence is constructed so brilliantly. It’s actually pretty straightforward. But, wow! What an image! I had never before visualized sleep as a dress rehearsal for death, but as soon as I read it, I realized she was right. I also loved the way the image combines life with acting — rather Shakespearan, don’t you think?

The perfect image has a great deal of power. (Even in non-fiction writing.) It makes the reader sit up, pay attention and ask, ‘Why did I never notice that before?’ The next time you’re writing, work hard to find images like this one.

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