Tuesday, May 4, 2010

No verbs?

My cousin contacted me last night looking for information on a French novel.

In 2004, a French author under the pseudonym (or shall I say nom de plume) Michel Thaler published a 233-page novel called "The Train to Nowhere" in which he used no verbs. For the Francophiles, the French title is "Le Train de Nulle Part."

Wikipedia cites it as an example of a "constrained novel." Apparently this movement has other authors with other self-imposed restrictions, including a book called "Void." "Void" does not use the letter E.

So my thought for today is this... How creative are you? Can you write under restrictions? Do you need freedom or can you handle rules? In my view, we all think we have total freedom as artists, but as soon as we hear "tips" or "rules" that might help us get published, we adapt the ones that make sense to us.

Too many prepositions.
Too many adverbs.
Too many independent clauses linked with a conjunction.
Too many run-on sentences.
Sentence structure that does not vary.
Too much passive voice...

Sample from the text of the Train to Nowhere:

Quelle aubaine ! Une place de libre, ou presque, dans ce compartiment. Une escale provisoire, pourquoi pas ! Donc, ma nouvelle adresse dans ce train de nulle part : voiture 12, 3ème compartiment dans le sens de la marche. Encore une fois, pourquoi pas ?

Fool's luck! A vacant seat, almost, in that compartment. A provisional stop, why not? So, my new address in this train from nowhere: car 12, 3rd compartment, from the front. Once again, why not?

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