I am a collector of phrases. I started with this absolutely perfect description from Middlesex: Riding in a fancy new car was like climbing into someone's wallet. How great is that? Since then, I've been collecting fabulous phrases. They are my rocket fuel.
From Lauren Groff's Arcadia:
muscled men with badness in their eyes
she is a cage of bones
From Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson:
a halfway place, a rest stop on the road to sleep
From Ethan Coen's introduction to the screenplay Fargo:
The story that follows...pretends to be true
I am working on a long story about two women orphaned at five and seven, who are raised by their nineteen year-old aunt. My characters are now fifty-five and fifty-seven, facing a new challenge that tests their bond and their strengths. How to tell this story? Every day, I read some truly great sentences. I soak up the rhythm and efficiency in their constructs, focus down, down, down on the beauty in each luxurious phrase. And then, with this quietness and harmony settled in my mind, I write.