Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Discussion Topic: Summing it up in one line

I think it's amazing when a writer can sum up a character with one line of dialogue, one telling action, one perfect piece of description or internal thought.

In the new Bond movie, a bartender asks Bond whether he'd like his martini shaken or stirred. Bond turns to the bartender, a slightly annoyed expression on his face and says, "Do I look like a man who'd care?" (or something like that)

What I love about this line is that it not only defines his character, but it also defines the new direction the franchise has taken. Bond is no longer a fastidious invincible cartoon hero but a real rough tough man who bleeds (and makes others bleed more).

Love it!

So, what perfect characterization lines do you love? In a book, a movie, your own work...

Post Script:
Depending on your perspective, I'd like to say either, "You're welcome," or "I'm sorry," for this uncharacteristically short post.


Molly O'Keefe said...

THAT WAS MY FAVORITE LINE TOO!!!! So telling -- so perfect. Amazing. I think it's like advanced writing if you can get every scene rushing to one line that leaves the reader wrecked and turning pages and loving it -- to get the whole book to get to one line is serious stuff.

As far as movies go -- hate to beat my dead horse here -- but Good Will Hunting is amazing for this -- it all comes down to Robin Williams telling MattDamon it's not your fault. Brilliant.

Saw Casino Royale and man -- they've done an amazing job with this movie. All those idiots who didn't like him for Bond -- they are eating mud right now. The guy is brilliant! And soooo easy on the eyes. My dad even said (die-hard Connery fan) that he's a good choice for Bond because he actually looks like he could do the physical stuff.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Maureen. Sometimes short really is sweet.

Why am I always last to see the really good movies. Sigh! This weekend, I will see Bond, weeks after everyone else.

But that man looks so sexy in a swimsuit that would look silly on 99% of men in the world.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the new Bond movie yet either, Sinead. I'm hoping I might be able to this weekend. *crosses fingers*

Grat post Maureen.

Sara Hantz said...

HAHAHAHA your PS made me laugh outloud.

Totally agree with your line.... even though I haven't seen the movie... just loads of trailers.

Anonymous said...

My all time favorite? Jessica Rabbit's (played by Kathleen Turner) "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way.". (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen Bond, but Daniel Craig is delish. The only Bond I liked before was Connery, I thought the rest were all wishy washy, Craig oozes sex appeal and power and that's what I want to see in a Bond.

I can't think of any line per say I quite enjoy in Regency's when the Hero would say something like "Devil take you!" or something along those lines. I gave my heroine a tag line, a Celtic Anglo Saxon curse, "Sweet Freya," that I think sums up her spit fire attitude. She says it a lot.

Anonymous said...

One that comes to mind (and in the spirit of the season) is Joni Mitchell's line in her Christmas song: "I wish I had a river, that I could skate away on." I'm reading David Sedaris' "Holidays on Ice" for the first time. Love the scene where he's describing the guys dressed up like hot dogs, handing out leaflets on the streets of Manhattan. Characterizing line "I tend to accept a leaflet saying, 'Thank you so much,' and thinking, 'You poor, pathetic son of a bitch. I don't know what you have but I hope I never catch it.'"

Maureen McGowan said...


I LOVE that line. Joni Mitchell is such a poet... You can see her as a young woman sitting in LA and missing Saskatoon in that one line... And so much more.

While we're on great JM lines, how about "I could drink a case of you and still be on my feet."

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