The Art of a Great Line

I emailed a writer friend to congratulate him on the short story he sent along for my read, and he responded with a single line:

“In Errachidia on the Western Edge of the Sahara; typing on an Arabic keyboard/ Will call later in the week, back Wed/ Thanks”

Now, that’s the work of a good writer. He sets the scene, gets my imagination going, and makes me want to know more. He doesn’t waste a moment of his reader’s time. Every word counts for something.

Intrigued, I will look up Errachidia in a spare moment, imagine for a second, maybe, that I can hear camel bells. I will also wonder about his use of an Arabic keyboard—he speaks Arabic? But for all this color and mystery, I have received real information—his whereabouts, when he will return, and the news that he will call. To achieve so much in the space of a single line, is the work of someone who knows his craft.

Less is more when it comes to power. Just make your sentences count.


Bill Schubart is the author of The Lamoille Stories (White River Books, 2008). Fat People is a new collection of stories. For his commentary and a profile of his varied career in business, the arts and civic policy check out: