Napkins and best lines: Writing advice from Carolyn Jourdan


Arthur C. Clarke napkin quote

I have a bad habit of watching “Bookmark” on Alabama Public Television. It is the “Inside the Actor’s Studio” of author interview programs.

But I picked up a wonderful nugget of advice from Tennessee author Carolyn Jourdan, who wrote “Heart in the Right Place” (affiliate link).

She eats at a lot of fast food restaurants because she’s a vegetarian. (She explained that her options were limited by work schedule and restaurants.) As a result, she accumulates a lot of napkins.

Whenever she hears a line worth saving, she writes it on a napkin. When her family threatened to toss all these napkins lying around the house into the trash, she transcribed them into a computer.

Each line waited for her to find an appropriate place to use in her writing.

I’m going to start hording lines I hear. (Yes, I could tweet them, but I need to have my own stockpile.)

But I’ll share the first one that made it into my collection: “There was a chick in college with me named Anna Graham.” (From a Facebook discussion on anagrams and palindromes.)

From such assorted gems, a novel will be born.

Photo by gi / CC BY-SA 2.0


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