Today’s writing prompt comes from Ursula K. LeGuin. It is titled, “The Sound of Your Language – Being Gorgeous.” The task is to write a paragraph (up to a page) of narrative that’s meant to be read aloud. Use onomatopoeia, alliteration, repetition, rhythmic effects, or whatever kind of sound effect you like, avoiding rhyme and meter.


For many, being in the desert begets a special, spiritual kind of beauty: to bathe in the baking sun; to gaze at the silky shelf of stars; to hear the tones and movements of critters and crawling things going about their tasks in the dry-parched earth and sand. But Nathan lived in the desert. He did not love it.

So, while dreamers and poets, Midwestern fantasy-lovers and romantics, fantasized of desert sunsets and philosophized on the pure and ancient beauty of the cacti and the palms, Nathan simply lived among it all.

To wish upon a star. To walk the wash. To smile at shaded parking spots and the rare, cool breeze as it comes tumbling down Spring Mountain and into the valley. To worship water, and obey it. These were the sacred things, and the ordinary things.


This is perhaps the setting for my current WIP. I’m wondering why the name “Nathan” came out while writing, when I’ve been struggling with character names for months. I don’t think this is the right name, after all, as I want it to be more “gorgeous” and intentional. A name should mean something, right? (Uriah Heep. Jane Eyre, etc.) But this one worked here, for now. The exercise in general was enjoyable. It reminds me of reading like a writer. The sound and rhythm are important because, after all, readers “hear” these (in their own voices) when they are reading, even if reading silently. I don’t often enough think consciously about the sound of my writing; it is something I tend to create naturally and then correct on re-reading, as needed. But thinking about it as I’m creating the sentences and scenes seemed helpful, even powerful. It sure slowed me down, though.

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