if e-prime was odd…

Here’s some more crazy things people have done with books.

Le Train de Nulle Part. Hat tip to Brad, my day-job minion, who in turn found this on Neatorama, which is always a fun place to look for odd events and interesting stories. Le Train de Nulle Part (The Train From Nowhere) is a French novel (233 pages) written entirely without verbs.

Lipograms. A specific letter is eschewed from the book. Gadsby has no e’s, and neither does La Disparition (another French novel, by Georges Perec). Les Revenentes, a novella written also by Georges Perec, contained no vowels but the letter ‘e’.

Others… Never Again, by Doug Nufer, doesn’t repeat any words once they’ve been used.

Frankly, some of these ideas scare me. E-prime is difficult enough; how did they do that?!

One of my ideas was to center my next book around, among other things, the golden ratio, implementing the Fibonacci sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89 […]. I could plot out the major events to take place so many pages, pick important words in each chapter and reiterate them according to these numbers. Since the next book that I’m planning is actually a series of interconnecting short stories, it really plays into the experimental nature I’ve had pictured.

(If you’re interested, the book is called ‘The Marionette’s Waltz’ and loosely centers around demons, drugs, and a crazy woman fighting for the soul that she gave away. The book never distinguishes what’s real and what isn’t.)

But I think I’ll still keep my vowels and my verbs. 😉

dancing in e-prime

I have a confession to make. E-prime fascinates me.

Some haven’t heard of the style before, so allow me to give a quick explanation. Those who write in e-prime eschew all forms of the verb ‘to be’, allowing the restrictiveness of the style to force them to find other, more interesting (and often more accurate) verbs. This list includes was, is, are, am, be, been. ‘The house was blue’ becomes ‘The blue house’ or ‘The house looked blue’, ‘I was angry’ transforms into ‘I felt angry’. While the style requires work, patience, and creativity, I find that it also challenges me to consider the language I use carefully. Often I remove entire passages, rewrite paragraphs to fit with the style, but the effort shows. Readers don’t typically notice the extra work, but sometimes they can see that something in the prose differs from what they have grown used to.

Try it. See if you can find independence from easy verbs.