Skip to content

Working on the Craft: Chastity

Today’s exercise comes from Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft. Titled Chastity, it is maddeningly simple: Write a few paragraphs of descriptive narrative, without using adjectives, adverbs, or dialogue. It was surprisingly hard, which tells us that I am a novice at doing exercises, because obviously it would be hard! But the result was sufficiently satisfactory, and yes, I am dumping all these sweet, tender adjectives and adverbs right here, since I wasn’t allowed to do it in the text itself.

Oh, also. It’s short, because I did the barest minimum. Did I mention It was hard? I like my adjectives and adverbs with a fiery passion.


The clouds began to part, layer by layer, to reveal beams of light. For a moment, I had to avert my eyes. As I adjusted to the brightness, I looked up to see a vessel that dwarfed the peak I stood on. It was like a rose of metal, come from a giant’s garden. Walls curved, lines chased each other to craft a shape which made me weep with awe.

It towered above me as it descended, a landing that obscured the sky. The beams of light that came from its surfaces reflected from the curves in the metal, and turned the ship into a source of radiance, as if the illumination came from the inside, wanted to escape, and the hull contained it with difficulty.

My mind refused to comprehend, all thought banished by the sight in the clouds. I should have ran. I should have sent warning. I wanted to avert my eyes, but I could not. The sight occupied the entirety of the world I had known so far. The colony at the foot of the mountains could not muster anything with the capability to combat this vessel. An empire had descended over a backwater. Everything was about to change.

Published inWorking on the Craft

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.