Hammer It!

Today’s tool of the day:  the hammer.

Huh? (And no, I’m not going to hit you over the head with it. But…if it would get you to write more, well, then, maybe I should.)

Seriously though, we all know that a hammer is used to drive a nail. But how do you use a HAMMER in your writing?

Instead of driving a nail, you drive a point.

You emphasize a particular word or sentence by giving that sentence its own line and paragraph. Let it stand alone. This sets it apart from the other lengthier paragraphs which makes it more memorable. (Think of it as a red hammer on a white page.) 

If you’re not sure what I mean, pick up the book you’re reading and thumb through it. Hunt for one line sentences–the short ones with the punch–amidst the long ones. Notice how they seem to mean more than the other sentences around them.

First lines of novels are often like this. They’re given their own line and are typically strong statements. One of my favorites is:  “Ever hear the dead knocking?” by Brandilyn Collins in Dark Pursuit.

“Stealing is common here. It’s survival.” Michelle Saint-GermainOksana


Here are a few others I found buried in the middle of chapters. Check them out:

“How could she find her place in a world where she knew she didn’t belong?” Susan May Warren, Baroness, Daughters of Fortune.

“She’d never lived with a sibling, let alone four of them. Let alone a boy.” Rachel Hauck, The Wedding Dress.

“She had made her choice, and so had he.” Jill Williamson, From Darkness Won (Blood of Kings, Book 3).

“The cutter had returned.”  Laurie Alice Eakes, Heart’s Safe Passage (The Midwives)

“It happened more quickly than anyone expected.” Frank PerettiIllusion, A Novel


One line sentences are also common at the end of scenes. Check these out:

“Of course, the odds have not been very dependable of late.” Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

“I removed my hand from Abby’s. She didn’t seem to notice.” David Bell, Cemetery Girl

Notice these “hammered points” while you’re reading so you can learn how to implement them in your own writing. Use them when you want your readers to remember.

What are your favorite one-liners?



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  1. Excellent, excellent post! You sent me thumbing through opening lines in my library. Here’s one:

    “Jem was scarlet.”

    It’s from To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

    Love it because if you just look at those three words, he could be sunburned, angry or embarrassed!

    • Thanks for valuing my post and sharing that one-liner, Cindy. I love that one, too. (I need to read that classic.) My guess is there are many more hammered points and sentences in MOCKINGBIRD.

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