Style Training With Ursula K. Le Guin, Exercise.2: Am I Saramago {1st attempt}

The instructions for this 3rd piece of writing practice are as follows:

“Write a paragraph to a page 150-350 words of narrative with no punctuation (and no paragraphs or other breaking devices).”

As always, here is my 1st attempt at this exercise, ENJOY! :

“The birds were falling in mass from the sky and people were rushing and running about all over the streets as though red ants had crawled down their trousers they clamoured about and elbowed their ways across the stream of people outside desperate to avoid getting hit and some were seeking shelter in cafés and bars while others just ran desperately with bags or briefcases over their heads as they hurried to work or wherever it was that they had to be and I stood there simply looking up at the sky wondering why this was happening at all as I recall it had started off a couple of weeks ago when suddenly a hailstorm of lifeless birds had been observed falling off the edges of the sky in gallops around some beaches of Spain close to Santander and very soon the phenomenon was reported happening all across the globe the experts naturally claimed it was some sort of flu or something to do with the pollution in the air but I knew as I stood there watching men bumping into one another violently I knew as they hurried about still trying to maintain a semblance of  civility amidst this catastrophic event as they continued to head to their jobs despite the horrible forecast weather of well bird rain that had laster for so long already obviously it was perfectly normal as this had never happened before everything had remained perfectly sensible and logical and controllable but suddenly chaos had erupted and nobody had any idea how to carry on with their lives with this weather  and cars could no longer drive calmly down the streets as they would undoubtedly get pierced by a falling pigeon or falcon should the schools be closed down was what questioned one political figure on some tv show I saw last night he did not have an answers for why this was happening and seemed very reluctant to admit the reality of what was happening but I do yes I know now as I did then on the very first day all this began taking place that there was no explaining it the world had simply gone mad and that the weather and seasons we had for so long been able to trust and take for granted had all been completely spun around on their heads my theory was proved a few months later when came what would be remembered as the moowinter when cows began spouting out of the clouds overhead in hoards but sadly that was only the begining”

I had a lot of fun writing this one hahaha. I hope it will prove as enjoyable as it was to write. The aim is to understand where punctuation is necessary for one’s punctuation style and what does a lack of said punctuation bring to one’s work for one it can bring a certain style or a feeling of a rush or speed all of which are stylistic attributes which can be used to elevates one’s style depending on the story one is attempting to write. I recommend testing out this exercise writing a scene where something hectic is happening, I think it truly helps translate that feeling onto paper.

– Issa Dioume

19 thoughts on “Style Training With Ursula K. Le Guin, Exercise.2: Am I Saramago {1st attempt}

  1. I wondered if this exercise couldn’t also be applied to a piece of writing to show how word choice and structure can keep the sense without breaking it into phrases. It seems to me that when there’s a lot of action you have to use short phrases and the result of not punctuating is always going to make a confused mess. I tried it twice, with a straight narrative and an action piece. It’s interesting, though I’m not sure what it’s taught me. Maybe we can’t teach ourselves. We need to learn from others.

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  2. I will have to make a second attempt at it for sure! It’s interesting for at times it does bring something but at others punctuation is simply a necessity. I think there is something to learn from this but it is not necessarily clear. It is up to the writer to draw his or her own conclusions. To teach ourselves what we ourselves think works 💭 perhaps…


  3. I actually read a passage like this in a certain dark fantasy series, and it was executed so damn well. Yes, there was a whole page with no punctuation. Tbh, I have yet to find a better book series, even after years of discovering it, just because it tries to be different in style, narration, story, pretty much everything. Anyway, this practice is something I vouch for.

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  4. It’s called Dungeon Defense by a Korean author, Yoo Heonwha. You can read the fan-translation for free here:

    My personal description goes like this; it’s a very, very dark story of a calculating young man who somehow gets into a fantasy setting that’s based on a strategy game. He reincarnates as the second weakest Demon Lord, and as soon as he wakes up as Dantalion, the bloody chaos begins. His goal is to conquer the whole world, starting from zero, just to ‘save the world’, for if the humans win the war, the world will go BOOM. Be prepared, however, as almost every character is either a psychopath, insane, or just crazy.

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  5. I tried something like this last year, though I discarded it, as I couldn’t make it fit into the book I was working on at the time. I will, however, try to put this in practical use at some point like in Dungeon Defense (the no-punctuation passage was in the 5th volume, I believe).

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  6. Oh, and another crazy trick Yoo uses in the books is basically an empty page. First, you read the pages normally, and then suddenly, there is an empty page, followed by a page where a single word or short sentence reads right in the middle of the blank page. The point is that if the word or sentence was part of a paragraph or a small paragraph of its own, mixed with others on a page, it wouldn’t hold so much value. If a whole page is reserved for a single word or sentence, on the other hand, it kinda makes the importance of the message skyrocket.

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