Write a paragraph or page of descriptive narrative prose without adjectives or adverbs. No dialogue.
I looked up from my desk, gazed out the window. There she was, striding through the skyline. She brushed back her hair and smiled at me. I don’t know how she could see me. Apartments hid her ankles, offices blocked her knees, her thighs waded past rooftops. I smiled back, hating my shirt and tie, resenting my coworkers. Sunlight glowed on her shoulders, wind rustled her sundress. She looked down and stepped: I heard an explosion and an alarm. She chuckled and advanced.
Explosions, screams, sirens.
Sunlight, shadows, breezes.
I rose from my chair and walked to the window. She grinned at me and beckoned. I nodded and waved to her. But she continued, tiptoeing and grinning. I pressed my hands to the window, staring. A helicopter raced by her head. She glanced at it and smiled, then returned to walking. Her breast caved a section of skyscraper: glass sparkled in the air.
She blushed and grinned at me, and she called my name. She waved, called my name, and strode. I studied her path, then looked for the exits. My boss skulked in the aisle, looking at me. She waded into downtown.
My office isn’t in downtown.
Her hair spilled down her back. Sunlight shone on her shoulders and butt. Her dressed danced in the wind. Buildings blocked my view of her, and my heart sank. My boss called to me before she disappeared. I took my seat, rested my hands on my keyboard, and hated my life.
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2 thoughts on “Writing Exercise: Chastity”
Without adjectives or adverbs. Yeah, I keep hearing a body can write wihtou them, but I didn’t quite believe til now. This is a perfect example of that. I see it all so very clearly, my own mind dropping them in place without need of anything beyond a clear, concise narrative. And emotional commitment.
I’m emotionally committed to beating the shit out of her for moving on, instead of harvesting that little guy, someone she clearly knows, and probably the entire reason she’s engaging in city shenanigans. I’m emotionally invested in the man’s mounting frustration and his heart in a blender when she strides off into the angular horizon.
I’m emotionally curious to see what the inside of his boss’s skull looks like, that she would stare at a man staring at a giantess. It feels so much like peep-tomming.
Thank you for another entry that produces marked heart-felt responses.
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When I was reading up on this chapter, I thought I’d have to write out my piece in its entirety, then go back with a red pen and cross out all the adverbs, adjectives, and adjectival phrases (my wife nailed me on a few of those, when I thought I was being clever). But I didn’t: I just put myself into a more journalistic frame of mind, that of attempting to impartially related the facts, and then I found some relief in choosing diverse verbs. You don’t have to say “her massive foot,” when you can simply state “she stepped on the car and flattened it.” I wouldn’t do this always, but it’s useful to practice.
I stumbled over not being allowed to use the adjective “away.” I didn’t know how to elegantly describe that she was leaving him without that one single word. I worked around it, but it would’ve been much easier the other way. But easier isn’t the point of this, is it.
Thank you for paying attention and saying something. You are worth your weight in diamonds.
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