Excerpt from “Hole in My Life” by Jack Gantos

July 15: Today I took a photograph of Hamilton sitting at the wheel with the sun setting1 behind him. He frowned. “Now take a picture of me,” I said, and handed him the camera.

He flipped the camera over, unsnapped the back, pulled out the film, and tossed it over his shoulder into the ocean. “If I find any more film on board it will join that roll,” he said.

“It’s just a photo,” I replied.

“It’s evidence,” he snapped back. This is the first evidence I have had that he even thinks we could be caught.

“Let me see your wallet,” he said.

I gave it to him.

He threw away all my identification except for my fake Florida license. “Might come in handy,” he said.

 

July 16: Dead clam today. Hot.2  The sails hanging limply3  from the gaffs like sleeping bats. At one point I dove overboard and swam around the boat as if it were at anchor. Hamilton threw an empty bottle overboard and we bobbed along next to it for hours. By the end of the day we may have covered a mile. No more. Feel like a sitting duck. Said so to Hamilton. He drifted into a story about his biggest concern on the ocean being pirates, not police. Told me about friends in the business4 who were boarded by pirates who tied them to the masts, and then took their stash. Somehow I find this absurd and can’t stop thinking of Captain Hook and his crew of pirates in Peter Pan. Wish Hamilton would swallow a clock so5  I could hear him creeping.6  He stalks me like a mumbling crocodile.

Daredevil #10 by Charles Soule

Introducers: The two introducing phrases before the main idea of “it’s not very big.” This changes the connection that the reader makes between the two ideas and surprises them at the end of the sentence, because everyone considers New York to be huge. The introducers delay this unexpected statement for the readers and makes it more unexpected as Matt talks about how New York is important to the world.
Introducers: The two introducing phrases before the main idea of “it’s not very big.” This changes the connection that the reader makes between the two ideas and surprises them at the end of the sentence, because everyone considers New York to be huge. The introducers delay this unexpected statement for the readers and makes it more unexpected as Matt talks about how New York is important to the world.
“But the way the neighborhoods work” begins a sentence with a conjunction, “But”. Starting a sentence with a conjunction is much more colloquial and gives us the sense of this being his thoughts
“But the way the neighborhoods work” begins a sentence with a conjunction, “But”. Starting a sentence with a conjunction is much more colloquial and gives us the sense of this being his thoughts
“Until this guy” fragment. This fragment here builds the sense of Matt’s inner thoughts and personality. But since the fragment is separated in a different panel as well, creating more separation than just a period, the emphasis is stronger and the pause is strengthened.
“Until this guy” fragment. This fragment here builds the sense of Matt’s inner thoughts and personality. But since the fragment is separated in a different panel as well, creating more separation than just a period, the emphasis is stronger and the pause is strengthened.

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“New York City is alive. And living things change.” The decision to use a period instead a comma strengthens the separation of these sentences, while keeping the “and” connects the ideas. The overall effect is to create a sense of thoughts building off each other, connected but not thought immediately together.
“New York City is alive. And living things change.” The decision to use a period instead a comma strengthens the separation of these sentences, while keeping the “and” connects the ideas. The overall effect is to create a sense of thoughts building off each other, connected but not thought immediately together.
The ellipses that connect this panel to the last one from “For example…” to “…this flagpole” give the reader the pacing that Soule wants, as Matt starts the thought in one moment of action and finishes it after searching for an example in the next panel.
The ellipses that connect this panel to the last one from “For example…” to “…this flagpole” give the reader the pacing that Soule wants, as Matt starts the thought in one moment of action and finishes it after searching for an example in the next panel.

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Ellipses: this is one continuous thought that doesn’t require any punctuation in the middle, but the added ellipses draws out the thought and makes it more dramatic.
Ellipses: this is one continuous thought that doesn’t require any punctuation in the middle, but the added ellipses draws out the thought and makes it more dramatic.

daredevil 14

daredevil 15 daredevil 16

The repetition of “He didn’t” emphasizes the irony of the situation as Matt keeps his secret identity from Sam and pretends to not have the radar sense or his powers to keep the lie going, but the readers know that Matt and Daredevil are the same person.
The repetition of “He didn’t” emphasizes the irony of the situation as Matt keeps his secret identity from Sam and pretends to not have the radar sense or his powers to keep the lie going, but the readers know that Matt and Daredevil are the same person.

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Subordinating clause “when I introduced her to you” adverbial clause that reminds the readers why Sam had a cast while the prepositional phrase “in a fit of utter idiocy” adds Matt’s frustrations about the situation and gives the reader a sense of Matt’s personality and inner turmoil about helping Sam become Blindspot. "The hero game’s addictive": this contraction is uncommon in written text, but very colloquial in the spoken word. This contraction makes Daredevil’s thoughts more accessible to the reader and informal.
Subordinating clause “when I introduced her to you” adverbial clause that reminds the readers why Sam had a cast while the prepositional phrase “in a fit of utter idiocy” adds Matt’s frustrations about the situation and gives the reader a sense of Matt’s personality and inner turmoil about helping Sam become Blindspot.
“The hero game’s addictive”: this contraction is uncommon in written text, but very colloquial in the spoken word. This contraction makes Daredevil’s thoughts more accessible to the reader and informal.

daredevil 20

The participial phrase “training with Stick” specifies and explains what Matt means by being in Sam’s place, implying that “his place” is the state of being new to being a hero.
The participial phrase “training with Stick” specifies and explains what Matt means by being in Sam’s place, implying that “his place” is the state of being new to being a hero.
Starting conjunction: “But I didn’t like to listen,” connects the two ideas of Matt hearing but not listening while separating them in the mind of the reader so the fact that the second sentence came as an after thought triggered by the first is conveyed to the reader with the punctuation.
Starting conjunction: “But I didn’t like to listen,” connects the two ideas of Matt hearing but not listening while separating them in the mind of the reader so the fact that the second sentence came as an after thought triggered by the first is conveyed to the reader with the punctuation.

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“you want to break the rules,” is a subordinating clause missing the subordinating conjunction “if”. This missing word makes Matt’s thoughts feel more natural since no one thinks in formal, perfect grammar. The addition of the ellipses before the rest of the clause, (also missing a clause) dramatizes the irony of the statement and gives the effect of Matt delivering the punch line of a joke.
“you want to break the rules,” is a subordinating clause missing the subordinating conjunction “if”. This missing word makes Matt’s thoughts feel more natural since no one thinks in formal, perfect grammar. The addition of the ellipses before the rest of the clause, (also missing a clause) dramatizes the irony of the statement and gives the effect of Matt delivering the punch line of a joke.

Preface from The Soloist by Steve Lopez

The Soloist by Steve Lopez

Preface

I’m on foot in downtown Los Angeles7, hustling back to the office with another deadline looming. That’s when I see him. He’s dressed in rags on a busy downtown street corner, playing Beethoven on a battered violin that looks like it’s been pulled from a Dumpster.

“That sounded pretty good,” I say when he finishes.

He jumps back three steps, eyeing me with suspicion. I see the name Stevie Wonder carved into the face of the violin, along with felt-pen doodles.

“Oh, thank you very much,” he says, obviously flattered2. “Are you serious?”

“I’m not a musician,” I answer. “But yes. It sounded good to me.”

He is black, just beyond fifty, with butterscotch eyes that warm to the compliment. He is standing next to a shopping cart heaped over with all his belongings, and yet despite grubby, soiled clothing, there’s a rumpled elegance about him.3He speaks with a slight regional accent I can’t place. Maybe he’s from the Midwest or up near the Great Lakes, and he seems to have been told to always stand up straight, enunciate, carry himself with pride and respect others.

“I’m trying to get back in shape,” he says. “But I’m going to get back in there, playing better. I just need to keep practicing.”

“So you like Stevie Wonder?” I ask.

“Oh, yes, certainly. ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life.’ ‘My Cherie Amour.’ I guess I shouldn’t have written his name on my violin, though.”

I write a column for the Los Angeles Times. The job is a little like fishing. You go out and drop a line, cast a net. I’m figuring this vagrant violinist is a column. Has to be.4

“I’m in a hurry at the moment,” I tell him, “but I’d like to come back and hear you play again.”

“Oh, all right,” he says, smiling appreciatively but with trepidation. He looks like a man who has learned to trust no one.

“Do you always play in this spot?” I ask.

“Yes,” he says pointing across the street with his bow to Pershing Square5, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. “I like to be near the Beethoven statue for inspiration.”

This guy could turn out to be a rare find in a city of undiscovered gems, fiddling away in the company of Beethoven.6 I would drop everything if I could, and spend a few hours pulling the story out of him, but that will have to wait for another day. I’ve got another column lined up and not much time to shape it. The deadlines come at you without mercy, even in your dreams.

“I’ll be back,” I say.

He nods indifferently.

Back at the office I seat out another column, scan the mail and clear the answering machine. I make a note on the yellow legal pad where I keep a list of possibilities.

Violin Man.

It’s got potential. Who knows where it will go?

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it 7; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with our dog’s blanket and the tea cosy. I can’t say that I am really comfortable, and 2 there is a depressing smell of carbolic soap, but this is the only part of the kitchen where there is any daylight left. And3 I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring. I wrote my very best poem while sitting on the hen house. Though even that isn’t a very good poem. I have decided my poetry is so bad that I mustn’t write any more of it. 

It is comforting to look away from the windows and towards the kitchen fire, near which my sister Rose is ironing though she obviously can’t see properly, and it will be a pity if she scorches her only nightgown. (I have two, but one is minus its behind.)4 Rose looks particularly fetching by firelight because she is a pinkish person; her skin has a pink glow and her hair is pinkish gold, very light and feathery. Although5 I am rather used to her I know she is a beauty. She is nearly twenty one and very bitter with life. I am seventeen, look younger, feel older. I am no beauty but have a neatish6 face. 

I have just remarked to Rose that our situation is really rather romantic two girls in this strange and lonely house. She replied that she saw nothing romantic about being shut up in a crumbling ruin surrounded by a sea of mud. I must admit that our home is an unreasonable place to live in. Yet I love it.7Intentional fragment: This short sentence, although not an independent clause, creates emphasis by standing on its own. By disconnecting this phrase from the first independent clause, Casandra portrays the conviction of her love for her home despite its being unreasonable, and she makes the idea more important.

[source]

A Short History of the Jewish Fist Fighter by Markus Zusak

His favorite fight, now that he looked back, was Fight Number Five against a tall, tough, rangy kid named Walter Kugler. They were fifteen.8 Walter had won all four of their previous encounters, but this time, Max could feel something different.2 There was new blood in him—the blood of victory—and it had the capability both to frighten and excite.3

As always, there was a tight circle crowded around them. There was grubby ground. There were smiles practically wrapped around the on looking faces. Money was clutched in filthy fingers, and the class were filled with such vitality that there was nothing else but this.

God, there was such joy and fear there, such brilliant commotion.

The two fighters were clenched with the intensity of the moment, their faces loaded up with expression,4 exaggerated with the stress of it.5 The wide-eyed concentration.6

After a minute or so of testing each other out, they began moving closer and taking more risks. It was a street fight after all, not an hour-long title fight. They didn’t have all day.

“Come on Max!” one of his friends was calling out.” There was no breath between any of the words. “Come on, Maxi Taxi, you’ve got him now, you’ve got him, Jew-Boy, you’ve got him!”7

A small kid with soft tufts of hair, a beaten nose, and swampy eyes, Max was a good head shorter than his opposition. His fighting style was utterly graceless, all bent over nudging forward, throwing fast punches at the face of Kugler. The other boy, clearly stronger and more skillful, remained upright, throwing jabs that constantly landed on Max’s cheeks and chin.

Max kept coming.8

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time.9 That is the life of men.

Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.

So the beginning of this was a woman and she had come back from burying the dead. Not the dead of sick and ailing with friends at the pillow and the feet.2 She had come back from the sodden and the bloated; the sudden dead, their eyes flung wide open in judgment.3

The people all saw her come because it was sundown. The sun was gone, but he had left his footprints in the sky. It was the time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and talk.4 These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human.5 They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment.

Seeing the woman as she was made them remember the envy they had stored up from other times. So they chewed up the back parts of their minds and swallowed with relish. They made burning statements with questions, and killing tools out of laughs. It was mass cruelty. A mood come alive. Words walking without masters; walking altogether like harmony in a song.6

“What she doin coming back here in dem overhalls? Can’t she find no dress to put on? Where’s dat blue satin dress she left here in? Where all dat money her husband took and died and left her?—What dat ole forty year ole ‘oman doin’ wid her hair swingin’ down her back lak some young gal?—Where she left dat young lad of a boy she went off here wid?—Thought she was going to marry?—Where he left her ?—What he done wid all her money?—Betcha he off wid some gal so young she ain’t even got no hairs—why she don’t stay in her class?—”7

When she got to where they were she turned her face on the bander log and spoke. They scrambled a noisy “good evenin’ ” and left their mouths setting open and their ears full of hope. Her speech was pleasant enough, but she kept walking straight on to her gate. The porch couldn’t talk for looking.

[Source]

Chapter 2: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

“I have a problem, Miss Everdeen,” says President Snow. “A problem that began the moment you pulled out those poisonous berries in the arena.”

That was the moment when I guessed that if the Gamemakers had to choose between watching Peeta and me commit suicide — 8  which would mean having no victor — and letting us both live, they would take the latter.

 “If the Head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane, had had any brains, he’d have blown you to dust right then. 2 But he had an unfortunate sentimental streak. 3 So here you are. Can you guess where he is?” he asks.

I nod because 4 , by the way he says it, it’s clear that Seneca Crane has been executed. The smell of roses and blood has grown stronger now that only a desk separates us. There’s a rose in President Snow’s lapel, which at least suggests a source of the flower perfume, but it must be genetically enhanced, because no real rose reeks like that. As for the blood … 5 I don’t know.

6 “After that, there was nothing to do but let you play out your little scenario. And you were pretty good, too, with the love-crazed schoolgirl bit. The people in the Capitol were quite convinced. Unfortunately, not everyone in the districts fell for your act,” he says.

My face must register at least a flicker of bewilderment, because he addresses it.

“This, of course, you don’t know. You have no access to information about the mood in other districts. In several of them, however, people viewed your little trick with the berries as an act of defiance, not an act of love. 7 And if a girl from District Twelve of all places can defy the Capitol and walk away unharmed, what is to stop them from doing the same?” he says. “What is to prevent, say, an uprising?”

It takes a moment for his last sentence to sink in. Then the full weight of it hits me. “There have been uprisings?” I ask, both chilled and somewhat elated by the possibility.

[source]

Mrs. Dalloway — Virginia Woolf

“Yes,” said Peter. “Yes, yes, yes,” he said, as if she drew up to the surface something which positively hurt him as it rose. Stop! Stop! he wanted to cry. For8 he was not old; his life was not over; not by any means 2. He was only just past fifty. Shall I tell her, he thought 3, or not? He would like to make a clean breast of it all. But4 she is too cold, he thought; sewing, with her scissors;5 Daisy would look ordinary beside Clarissa. And she would think me a failure, which I am in their sense, he thought; in the Dalloways’ sense6. Oh yes, he had no doubt about that; he was a failure, compared with all this—7the inlaid table, the mounted paper-knife, the dolphin and8 the candlesticks, the chair-covers and the old valuable English tinted prints—9he was a failure! I detest the smugness of the whole affair, he thought. Richard’s doing not Clarissa’s; 10 save that she married him. (11Here Lucy came into the room, carrying silver, more silver12, but charming, slender graceful she looked, he thought, as she stooped to put it down.) And this had been going on all the time! he thought; week after week; Clarissa’s life; while I—13he thought; and at once everything seemed to radiate from him; journeys; riders; quarrels; adventures; bridge parties; love affairs; work; work, work!14 and he took out his knife quite openly—his old horn-handled knife which Clarissa could swear he had had these thirty years 15 – and clenched his fist upon it.

What an extraordinary habit that was, Clarissa thought 16; always playing with a knife. Always making one feel, too, frivolous; empty-minded; a mere silly chatterbox, as he used 17 summoned, like a Queen whose guards have fallen asleep and left her unprotected (18 she had been quite taken aback by this visit – it had upset her) so that any one can stroll in and have a look at her where she lies with the brambles curbing over her, summoned19 to her help 20 the things she did; the things she liked; her husband; Elizabeth; her self, in short, which Peter hardly knew now, all to come about her and beat off the enemy.

All the Light We Cannot See- Anthony Doerr

Zero
7 August 1944
The Boy

Five streets to the north, a white-haired eighteen-year-old21 German private named Werner Pfennig wakes to a faint staccato hum. Little more than a purr. Flies tapping2 at a far-off windowpane.

Where is he? The sweet, slightly chemical scent of gun oil; the raw wood of newly constructed shell crates; the mothballed odor of old bedspreads—he’s in the hotel. Of course. L’hôtel des Abeilles, the Hotel of Bees.

Still night. Still early.3.

From the direction of the sea4 come whistles and booms; flak is going up.

An anti-air corporal hurries down the corridor, heading for the stairwell. “Get to the cellar,” he calls over his shoulder, and Werner switches on his field light, rolls his blanket into his duffel, and starts down the hall.

Not so long ago, the Hotel of Bees was a cheerful address, with bright blue shutters on its facade and oysters on ice in its café and5 Breton waiters in bow ties polishing glasses behind its bar. It offered twenty-one guest rooms, commanding sea views, and a lobby fireplace as big as a truck. Parisians on weekend holidays would drink aperitifs here, and before them the occasional emissary from the republic—ministers and vice ministers and abbots and admirals6—and in the centuries before them, windburned corsairs: killers, plunderers, raiders, seamen7.

Before that, before it was ever a hotel at all, five full centuries ago, it was the home of a wealthy privateer who gave up raiding ships to study bees in the pastures outside Saint-Malo, scribbling8 in notebooks and eating honey straight from combs. The crests above the door lintels still have bumblebees carved into the oak; the ivy-covered fountain in the courtyard is shaped like a hive. Werner’s favorites are five faded frescoes on the ceilings of the grandest upper rooms, where bees as big as children float against blue backdrops, big lazy drones and workers with diaphanous wings—where, above a hexagonal bathtub, a single nine-foot-long queen, with multiple eyes and a golden-furred abdomen, curls across the ceiling.

Over the past four weeks, the hotel has become something else: a fortress. A detachment of Austrian anti-airmen has boarded up every window, overturned every bed. They’ve reinforced the entrance, packed the stairwells with crates of artillery shells. The hotel’s fourth floor, where garden rooms with French balconies open directly onto the ramparts, has become home to an aging high-velocity anti-air gun called an 88 that can fire twenty-one-and-a-half-pound shells nine miles.

Her Majesty, the Austrians call their cannon, and for the past week these men have tended to it the way worker bees might tend to a queen. They’ve fed her oils, repainted her barrels, lubricated her wheels; they’ve arranged sandbags at her9 feet like offerings.

The royal acht acht, a deathly monarch meant to protect them all10this appositive helps the reader understand the significance of the acht acht where they otherwise would have glossed over it. It’s description helps the reader see the vital importance of these two unfamiliar words[/fragment].

[source]

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

The ring of Connor’s cell phone wakes him out of a deep sleep.  He fights consciousness.11  He wants to go back to the dream he was having.  It was about a place he was sure he had been to, although he couldn’t quite remember when.2     He was at a cabin on a beach with his parents, before his brother was born.  Connor’s leg has fallen through a rotted board on the porch into spiderwebs so thick, they felt like cotton.  Connor had screamed and screamed from the pain, and the fear of the giant spiders that he was convinced would eat his leg off.  And yet,this was a good dream3—a good memory—4 because his father was there to pull him free, and carry him inside, where they bandaged his leg and set him by the fire with some kind of cider so flavorful, he could still taste it when he thought about it.5 His father told him a story that he can no longer remember, but that’s all right.  It wasn’t the story but the tone of his voice that mattered, a gentle baritone rumble as calming as waves breaking on a shore.6Little-boy-Connor drank his cider and leaned back against his mother pretending to fall asleep, but what he was really doing was trying to dissolve into the moment and make it last forever.  In the dream he did dissolve.  His whole being flowed into the cider cup, and his parents placed it gently on the table, close enough to the fire to keep it warm forever and always.

Stupid dreams.7 Even the good ones are bad, because they remind you how poorly reality measures up.