Memorable Lines



A recent article in the New Scientist mentioned a team at Cornell University had taught a computer to identify memorable movie one-liners. Such as “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine”. We all know that one from Casablanca.

Apparently the goal of having taught the computer to ferret out these memorable lines is to - possibly - help politicians come up with truly memorable slogans to boost their campaigns.

What researchers found is that the quotes that stick in our minds ‘contain surprising combinations of words but at the same time use a structure that is common’.

I wonder when some enterprising writer will decide that this software is just what (s)he needs to come up with a memorable book title. Another catch phrase to boost sales. Or how about more catchy chapter headings and while we’re at it, how about those first lines of each chapter? But if all our lines are memorable won’t that mean our audience gets overloaded and won’t remember any?

Even Casablanca only has two memorable lines in it. The one I quoted at the top from the beginning of the movie and then the one at the end, ‘.. this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship’.

More than that would be too much of a good thing and spoil the fun.