Did you know that E is the most common letter in the English language, appearing in 11% of all words in the common English vocabulary? (1) I thought it would be both a cool, challenging exercise and a fun activity to see if I could write a little story without using the letter E.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
My first attempt, after many migraines from banging my head on the table, was this beam of sunshine:
I am blind. Blind to what is obvious to most, to common functions of a human brain. It slips past, as unknown and confusing to my brain as a logarithm in physics is to most humans.
Though it floats by with no warning, it commonly floods my soul without a thought. Not a day flings by without a crying run down a hallway or a courtyard, for I know what pain and sorrow I bring unconsciously, but I do not – cannot – fully know what this condition is.
As I lay down onto my pillow at night, I usually cannot drift off until hours of confusion and frustration pass. I think of how this pitiful condition will always haunt my spirit, how my lack of it will hold on fast until I am totally cut off from sympathizing with humankind.
No idea what I was trying to convey there.
My second attempt was written in August during our trip to the UK, when I was rather bored on a train from London to Edinburgh. I decided to write about what I saw outside my window, but I had no idea how painfully difficult it is to write a defined topic without the letter E.
Rolling country and grassy plains zoom by my window. I watch with a happy thrill as cows munch on lush grass and a shaggy pony plods around. High up, clouds drift across a bright sky. Warm sunrays jump off a rippling pond in dazzling bursts of light. Pink and coral blossoms form a ring around a fluffy lamb.
Ah, the happy memories of the English countryside! Far more pleasant than the task of writing it.
Finally, I decided to go crazy and actually write a full story. It’s flash fiction length, not the highest quality prose, and rather silly in general, but considering that I managed not to use a single E, I think it’s quite decent.
Back. That’s all I can think of, all I want. To go back to my family. How am I on land? I don’t know. I can’t think. I want to go back.
Running is not for naiads, but my longing is so strong that I try anyways. I lurch through tall grass and clumsily crash onto sharp sticks, faintly focusing on my path but doing a lousy job of it. I trip on a rock and fall straight into…an unknown liquid. It isn’t at all familiar, which is disturbing, but it’s silky to my touch and soothing to my worry.
So soothing, in fact, that I opt to stay for a bit, soaking in its soft arms. A colourful, sparkling dragonfly zips around as blissful aromas float by on soft winds. With fascination, I look around this lagoon that is so similar to my own, catching a glint of crimson fins dodging a rock and holding back a grin as tiny fish pick at my arm.
All of it brings back a story I found not long ago, about a young king who falls from his kingdom of stars, pools of liquid moonlight forming upon contact with dirt and grass. I thought it was fiction, but…what if it wasn’t? What if this unknown liquid I’m lying in is liquid moonlight?
I frown, gazing up at a starry night sky. What if I’m from that kingdom of stars? Absurdity. Still, disturbing thoughts start to whirl. I can’t control it. How did I fall, if I did at all?
“Thinking about that crazy story?”
I look up in shock to find a boy-fairy smirking. His wings flap lazily and his hands plant firmly on his hips. I instantly find him annoying, but I’m also curious. A fairy, boy or girl, is unfamiliar.
“A fairy? A boy fairy?”
“I do think that’s fairly obvious, wings and all. My masculinity is also fairly obvious, I should think.
“It is.” I flush. “Sorry for my assumption.”
“Not to worry.”
I study him for a bit, noting his shirt and pants of shrubs, his curly brown hair, and abnormally pointy chin. As our lack of talking turns awkward, I abruptly stick out my hand. “I’m Gyrana. You?”
“Tayin.” His grip almost rips my hand off my arm. I pull away as inconspicuously as I can.
Tayin looks as awkward as I am, finally saying uncomfortably, “You know, I’m not all that fond of girls. Particularly naiads.”
I blink. “Okay. Why stay?”
“That’s just it. I don’t want to stay. But I also don’t want to go. Don’t know of any fairy to talk to.”
“You would only talk to a fairy?”
“No. But naiads annoy my brain. You don’t though,” Tayin adds with a quirk of his brow.
“Why, thank you.” I stand up, moonlight pooling up to my waist. “Anyways. How did you know what I was thinking? About that ‘crazy story?’”
Tayin shrugs. “Most think about that story, on good grounds.”
“You’ll find out shortly.”
I find that odd. “Oookay. So what do you know about this story?”
Tayin shrugs again. “Lots of things. Most important of all, it’s not fiction. It’s my own story of how I got into this situation. Long ago, I was a young king, ruling a happy kingdom lit by moonlight and starlight. Your imagination is good, right? Good. Now think of this. I’m standing on my balcony on a wondrous autumn night. My balcony abruptly splits in two, hurling down my poor body. I land painfully, making this pool of moonlight. And now I’m stuck, with no way of going back. Oh, do shut your mouth,” Tayin complains. “That wasn’t at all astonishing.”
I clamp my jaws back. “Why did you say it was a crazy story?”
“It was crazy, obviously! It still is.”
I think for an instant. “So…I’m stuck too?”
“And you don’t know why?”
At sounds of a loud, startling splash, I whirl around in shock. Tayin sighs.
“And now an additional poor soul is also stuck.”
In short, what I got from this frustrating and fun exercise is that the vast majority of verbs have E in them, it forces you to think of words and phrasings you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, and it makes normal writing seem like a float through clouds of bunny fluff.
You should try it!
6 thoughts on “An Experiment Without E”
Woah, this is so cool!
I wonder if I could avoid said-marking for the last bit of this…. comment. Whoops. XD
Lol, I told you it’s hard. xD If you ever feel stuck in writing, you should try this and realize how easy ‘normal’ writing is. 😉
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Hahaha that’s a great point.
Hmm. I’m going to have to try that now…
This is fascinating! I think that words can function in surprising ways and my brain is happy for this. It’s amazing what words (and brains) can do in a tight spot. Thank you for this intriguing post. (Did you grasp the lack of…IT in this string of words? I say, this is difficult. Good job with your story! I want to try now.)
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Indeed! Limits FORCE brains to work more creatively, which is why I’m always hunting around for more limits. 😛 (Lol, you did great! Thank you! Yes, yes, go try! I’d love to read it if you do. 🙂
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