Style Training With Ursula K. Le Guin, Exercise, 4 (part 1) Issa Dioume

I lifted my head and looked upwards. Clouds of all shapes and sizes were congregating; showing entryways for nuances of light-grey and dark-grey and grey-grey all over the sky. And soon,
towards me, a mizzling came tumbling down. And I let it. Droplets tinkled on my face in explosions of fertility, and the sound of their plops appeased me. Then it was a bucketful of water that the clouds spewed, and still I stayed beneath. Laughing and dancing and crying. I danced to my mother’s death, to my brother’s, to my father’s, to my grandmother’s. I danced to our fears, to our sorrows, to our lost dreams. I danced to cleanse them. I danced to happiness and life, smiled at life, and from somewhere behind all the grey, grappling through the unrelenting thick vest of clouds, a line of light fell on me, and life smiled back.

In this part of the book “Steering the Craft” Le Guin talks about the effects of repetition and argues that they can be quite effective! She then asks to write 150 words with at least three repetitions (verb, noun, adjective) Not words that are invisible like and, the, be, say, said, do, but words that can be seen and yet that serve to great effect in your prose. I employed the word ‘dance’, and let whatever comes after, come. Other author’s might find it interesting! Charles Dickens for one, used repetitions to great effect. They can truly help generate a flow! Do try, and always Have fun doing it!


Issa A. Dioume

17 thoughts on “Style Training With Ursula K. Le Guin, Exercise, 4 (part 1) Issa Dioume

  1. Repetition is a common feature of poetry. I love using it. You find that often editors will point out repetition and ask you to change the words “to avoid repetition’. Shows a lack of ear, I think.

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  2. Indeed, unless it is not the sought out effect by the author. However, if it is, they should be able to realise that it is. If they do not, either the author did not polish the passage enough, or they do not have an ear.


  3. I had a battle with one editor and ended up digging my heels in and refusing to change the text at all because her propositions changed the tone of it completely. Others have been more open to compromise.

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  4. Depends on how much respect you have for the editor. They see (if they’re any good) a lot of problems that we miss, but they’re not necessarily writers and don’t know how to put it right. When an editor rewrites something, you have to be very wary and look at it long and hard before you agree to it.

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  5. Nicely done. It seems that the intentionality of the repeats is what gives them strength and makes them work. They aren’t random, if you know what I mean. In this case, dancing is the key action and emotional expression of the scene. Ah, so much to learn. πŸ™‚

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