The Most Beautiful…?

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There is nothing more beautiful to me than a well-written story.

Well, nothing other than perhaps a well-executed scene. Writing a story well requires much more work, it’s true, but writing a scene correctly requires near perfection. A story as a whole is allowed to have its rough points; it can have pacing issues at times and superfluous materials, but as long as the story rings true, the writing is crisp, and the characters are sympathetic, the story can still be considered well-written. A single scene, though, has to have flow. It has to be filled absolutely with meaning. There can be no extra material and no mistakes. The best written story doesn’t move you by itself. It moves you by putting the full weight of itself behind a single critical scene. There is nothing more beautiful to me than that scene.

Well, nothing other than perhaps a perfectly balanced paragraph. The scene is of course more powerful, but the paragraph has a special allure for me. Finding that balance between saying too much and too little is really quite difficult. Keeping a logical flow requires another layer of attention to detail. And then, once you’ve done all that, you still have to modify the paragraph to fit with the others its juxtaposed with. But when all of this is done properly, the result is breathtaking– to me, at least. There have been paragraphs that I’ve had to go back and read two or three times in a row just to absorb all of the meaning. When I go to a bookstore, one of my favorite activities is picking up a random book from the shelf and reading random paragraphs. You can usually tell the quality of the author by the quality of his paragraphs. There is nothing more beautiful than the paragraphs he pens.

Well, there is one thing that might surpass the paragraph’s beauty. The well-turned sentence rich with meaning is a lost art in modern literature. To me, the thing that sets apart the good authors from the great is their sentence-writing ability. To communicate a big idea with lots of words is easy, but communicating the same idea with just a few carefully chosen words is something much more difficult. Poetry understands this. Poetry is all about layering meaning upon meaning into each phrase, but this layering and conciseness isn’t just for poetry. This is something I struggle with and that’s why the well-turned sentence is most beautiful to me.

Then again, the single word rich with meaning is beautiful, too.

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