Polysyndeton vs Asyndeton: Definition and Examples

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You know how sometimes you're reading a book and a writer will use a really long sentence without commas or periods and they're just going and going and you kind of run out of breath just by reading it but it's also kind of nice if you're into that sort of thing?

Well, there's a term for that! It's called polysyndeton, and in this post, you're going to learn exactly what polysyndeton, as well as the corresponding technique of asyndeton, and how and when to use them both in your writing. Let's get started!

Polysyndeton versus Asyndeton

What Is Polysyndeton? Polysyndeton Definition

Polysyndeton is a literary device in which conjunctions (e.g. and, but, or) are used repeatedly in quick succession, often with no commas or other punctation, even when the conjunctions could be removed.

It is often used to change the rhythm of the text, to make it either faster or slower, and it can convey a sense of gravity or excitement. It can also be used to intentionally overwhelm the reader, giving them very little room for mentally or visually breathing with the lack of commas.

Below are a few more examples now that you know what to look for.

Example from Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities:

… Jerry stood: aiming at the prisoner the beery breath of a whet he had taken as he came along, and discharging it to mingle with the waves of other beer, and gin, and tea, and coffee, and what not, that flowed at him, and already broke upon the great windows behind him in an impure mist and rain.

A bit gross, but you get the idea.

Example from Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:

I got into my old rags and my sugar-hogshead again, and was free and satisfied. But Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and said he was going to start a band of robbers, and I might join if I would go back to the widow and be respectable. So I went back.

Twain was a big fan of polysyndeton and the first pages of Huckleberry Finn are littered with fun but unnecessary conjunctions.

Example from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice:

Mrs. Hurst and her sister allowed it to be so—but still they admired her and liked her, and pronounced her to be a sweet girl, and one whom they would not object to know more of.

Austen uses polysyndeton frequently to convey a sense of enthusiasm and breathlessness.

Example from Herman Melville's Moby Dick:

There was a low rumbling of heavy sea-boots among the benches, and a still slighter shuffling of women's shoes, and all was quiet again, and every eye on the preacher.

Melville is constantly carried away by polysyndeton, which adds to the gravity of his prose.

The Opposite of Polysyndeton: Asyndeton

Polysyndeton has an opposite, called asyndeton (something Joe is very fond of using). Asyndeton is what would result if you replaced all the conjunctions in the sample sentence above with commas, as in the famous Julius Caesar quote, “Veni, vidi, vici.”

It is important to note that polysyndeton and asyndeton are not necessarily indicative of a run-on sentence. A run-on sentence has no conjunctions or commas to indicate transition of ideas or phrases, but barrels on as if it were two sentences that should be properly separated by a period. Polysyndeton and asyndeton maintain the elements of transition or connection, and are grammatically functional techniques.

Do you like to use polysyndeton or asyndeton in your writing? Let us know in the comments.

PRACTICE

Write for ten minutes about a sudden cold snap, using polysyndeton to thrown in as many conjunctions as you can. After the ten minutes, go back through your prose and replace all the conjunctions with commas. See which version of your practice you like better and post your practice in the box below, leaving feedback for a few other writers.

Enter your practice here:

Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she's not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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46 Comments

  1. Ramsey

    Polysyndeton. So that’s the term for that thing I do with my ands. I’ve been writing with a slightly polysyndeton-heavy style for years now – I adore shoving in a quick onslaught of horrible visuals and sounds and smells into a nice, quiet, peaceful summer day scene – and it’s lovely to finally know the term for it! Not only is it not a run-on sentence (as much as people love to say they are), but it is actually a valid grammatical technique.

    Thank you for this post!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I had the same feeling when I read this, Ramsey. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Lisa Buie-Collard

    Great post, and informative. Pronouncing those words is a challenge in itself! Thanks for the info…

    Reply
  3. Katie Hamer

    Here’s the polysyndeton version:

    The weather vane turned, and turned, and almost turned full circle, as it’s cast iron dragon tried to breathe fire into the frosty air. Droplets of rain punched the frozen earth, and then transformed into sleet and hail, and then snow. Turning slate grey, the clouds blocked out the sun, and shadowed the earth apocalyptically.

    Eva thought she heard a tinkling melody in the raindrops, which turned to the drumming of hail and sleet, and then the silent drift of snow.

    What a day to venture out without an umbrella! she thought, as she sheltered under the rowan tree, and thought about how late home she would be, and how her Mum would scold her.

    Here’s the asyndeton version:

    The weather vane turned, turned, turned almost full circle. It’s cast iron dragon tried to breathe fire into the frosty air. Droplets of rain punched the frozen earth, metamorphosing into hail stones, sleet, snow. Turning slate grey, the clouds blocked out the sun, shadowing the earth apocalyptically.

    Eva thought she heard a tinkling in the raindrops, turning to the drumming of hail, the slushiness of sleet, the whisper of drifting snow.

    What a day to venture out without an umbrella! She thought, as she found shelter under an old rowan tree. How late home would she be? Would her Mum worry, and scold her? She should have been back from the shops by now!

    Reply
    • Jay Warner

      For this particular exercise I liked your asyndeton version better.

      Reply
      • Katie Hamer

        Jay and Elise, thank you so much for your feedback. I think omitting words like and, so, but, does lead a better more direct flow, especially when narrating in the third person. It’s more natural for the reader, as they would tend to skip these unimportant words in skim reading, anyway.

        Reply
    • Elise Martel

      I agree with Jay. The second version lended a much more interesting and less drawn out way of describing, thinking, and saying.

      Reply
  4. Renaissance Project

    Hi Liz, I sensed that my preference would be asyndeton, then referred back to a recent letter to see for certain. I pasted it below and cut off the “ask” that appears at the end of our holiday fundraising letter. I like to mix up, use, and likely misuse punctuation because I dislike seeing the same word too many times on a page of my writing. It just depends. (Would love your good grammar and punctuation reference book recommendations.) Then I realized that instead of and, but, or – I use the combination of “while” and commas to deliver a mouth and mindful of activities and events over time. And FYI we’re expecting snow in New Orleans today and the City is closed until Thursday, much akin to hurricane preparations; am not feeling so much like writing about a cold snap!

    Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year to you all!

    We haven’t spoken in a while and I ask that you kindly grant me your indulgence of my holiday long-windedness.

    I spent Christmas week with seven other family members in New York City
    and we have had a wonderful time together. I so needed this time of the
    winter solstice, to rest, reflect and reconnect.

    On Thursday, we all went to the Metropolitan Museum for a youth and
    family tour. My granddaughters both six years old, got to draw African
    masks, see a Tiffany window and walk through towering naked Greek
    sculptures! Then we had hot dogs outside; Mauriyonna dropped hers,
    because in a group of eight, someone just had to; and hot chocolate from
    Dean and Delucca at 85 and Park on the way back to the train. Earlier
    in the week, the girls both went ice-skating at Rockefeller Center. It
    has been such a blessing spending time with everyone and just having
    fun.

    Today I am drafting and mailing thank you notes to twelve
    people who gave from their hearts in support of the holiday luncheon we
    coordinated and sponsored last week for the Lower Ninth Ward Senior
    Center in our building at Trinity Lutheran Church. While respecting
    their privacy and wishes for anonymity, I will tell you that while one
    overextended, vegetarian, healthcare professional made time to cook a
    turkey in Treme, a restaurant owner from MidCity sent two pans of dirty
    rice, one of my staff-whose mother has the same phone number as when we
    were in kindergarten in Lower 9-provided tossed salad. A large grocery
    store from Uptown, sent two veggie sides and an Uptown business owner
    bought extra cooked turkeys, to make certain there was enough to go
    around. The seniors provided drinks and desserts.

    An employee
    of a local senior advocacy agency brought their office staff
    contributions, that she had collected to join with ours towards holiday
    stipends, tokens of our appreciation, presented to two Senior Center
    employees.

    When the organ and amplifier didn’t work, our board
    member and her musician husband drove from Uptown to confirm that while
    there was no hope for the amp, the organ could be saved to play another
    day. Our landlord drove to New Orleans East for another amplifier and a
    pastor’s wife loaned her keyboard, so a local R&B artist living in
    the French Quarter could provide holiday entertainment while our staff
    assembled and served the meal. “. . . and a partridge in a pear tree.”

    As I see it, this is the essence of philanthropy: people giving of
    their abundance in whatever shape or form it appears, for the benefit of
    other people whom they may never know simply because they care and they
    can. Philanthropy is an act of faith in oneself and in others.

    Reply
  5. Jay Warner

    polysyndeton:

    We woke up that morning to a gray fog and a glaze of ice crystals across the fence. The water was frozen in the bucket Mary had left out for the dogs who huddled in their little houses and snuffled their way out when they heard her boots crunching in the yard. Lifting and groaning and mumbling and creaking, she lifted the heavy gate latch and swung it out. The dogs stretched their limbs and began to wiggle the cold out of their bones as they danced around Mary’s legs and waited for their breakfast.

    asyndeton:

    We woke up that morning to a gray fog, a glaze of ice crystals across the fence. The water was frozen in the bucket Mary had left out for the dogs, huddled in their little houses, snuffling their way out, hearing her boots crunching in the yard. Lifting, groaning, mumbling, creaking, she lifted the heavy gate latch, swung it out. The dogs stretched their limbs, began to wiggle the cold out of their bones, danced around Mary’s legs, waited for their breakfast.

    Reply
    • Katie Hamer

      Jay, I prefer your asyndeton version, too. It’s remarkable how much more action there is in there. In this version, I’m in the midst of the action. I can hear all the sounds in the yard, the crunching, creaking, and the dogs snuffling. The over-all effect is very onomatopoeic.

      Reply
      • Jay Warner

        thanks for your comments, I hadn’t thought about the other language elements but reading it over after reading your comments, I can really see and feel it.

        Reply
    • MichiganKim

      Jay, I also prefer your asyndeton version. I was surprised at this exercise — my initial thought was that I would have a strong preference for polysyndeton, but I’m finding that both methods have their strengths.

      Reply
      • Jay Warner

        I agree, I expected to like polysyndeton better and was mildly pleased to find I liked writing the opposite.

        Reply
    • Elise Martel

      I really liked the sentence with the snuffling of the dogs in the polysyndeton version. Most authors won’t strictly use just one of the two but intermingle both. The other sentences I preferred in asyndeton.

      Reply
      • Jay Warner

        you’re right, good authors, and most authors I would think, would use a mixture of styles. It was an interesting exercise to focus on one and then the other.

        Reply
        • Katie Hamer

          Good point about using a mixture of styles. Varying sentences is essential in good writing. It helps to keep the reader’s attention.

          For me, this practice was an exercise in writing and then re-writing – an essential skill for any writer. The asyndeton version was the second one, so it’s possibly better, because it’s also a revision of the original.

          Reply
  6. Joe Latino

    Thank you for a good post. I would include Hemingway among authors who skillfully use the polysyndeton. I plan to use it in my writing.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Good example, Joe! I agree, Hemingway’s one of my favorite polysyndotephile.

      Reply
  7. Amy Bailey

    Polysyndeton

    The cold snaps on this planet were frequent and unpredictable. This one was like nothing she had ever experienced before. The wall of snow and ice barrelled towards them in the distance like a sandstorm. The temperature was dropping fast and the cold seeped through her hazard suit to press it’s Icy hands against her. She felt her skin burn and her lungs labour and her breath rose like wisps of smoke and clung to the inside of her helmet. She had to get back to the ship fast.

    Asyndeton

    The cold snaps on this planet were frequent and unpredictable. This one was like nothing she had ever experienced before. The wall of snow and ice barrelled towards her in the distance like a sandstorm. The temperature was dropping fast, the cold seeped through her hazard suit to press its icy hands against her. She felt her skin burn, her lungs labour, her breath rose like wisps of smoke before clinging to the inside of her helmet. She had to get back to the ship fast.

    Reply
    • MichiganKim

      Wow, that’s some weather system on your planet…what a great concept! A “wall of snow and ice”….brrrr.

      Reply
  8. MichiganKim

    Liz, thank you for this article! I love the words themselves and I look forward to perfecting my skills with these new tools in my writing toolbox.

    Polysyndeton:

    The January sky turned gray quickly that afternoon. The snow began falling at dusk and an icy wind blew all night long, and by morning the hills were cloaked in a thick white blanket, and the trees stood as sturdy soldiers braced against the cold, and the birds shivered resolutely in their determination to survive it all. The fish and frogs lapsed into their winter torpor and the pond grew hard and quiet and the whole world fell into a deep sleep.

    Asyndeton:

    The January sky turned gray quickly that afternoon.The snow began falling at dusk, an icy wind blew all night long, by morning the hills were cloaked in a thick white blanket, the trees stood as sturdy soldiers braced against the cold, the birds shivered resolutely, determined to survive it all. The fish and frogs lapsed into their winter torpor, the pond grew hard and quiet, the whole world fell into a deep sleep.

    Reply
    • Dawn Atkin

      Nice writing. Thanks for sharing.
      The Asyndeton seemed to work better for me…as I was reading it I could feel how the story would have slowed down at the end if the ‘ands’ (polysyndeton) were there.
      Its interesting how the two approaches can adjust the pace or intensity of the prose isn’t it.
      Cheers D 🙂

      Reply
  9. Winnie

    Polysyndeton:The second he turned over with the first awakening and stole a glance at his alarm clock and wondered why it hadn’t gone off he knew it would be a duvet day. Rather than go to work and type with frozen fingers on a PC sluggish with iced-up circuits, he’d cuddle up with Dickens and Hemingway and Jane Austen. The plumber’s pickup truck across the road sputtered into life with a chesty roar and the drivers door banged shut and it rattled off to attend to frozen pipes somewhere.
    Asyndeton: The second he turned over with the first awakening, stole a glance at his alarm clock, wondered why it hadn’t gone off, he knew it would be a duvet day. Rather than go to work, type with frozen fingers on a PC sluggish with iced-up circuits, he’d cuddle up with Dickens, Hemingway, Jane Austen. The plumber’s pickup truck across the road sputtered into life with a chesty roar, the drivers door banged shut, it rattled off to attend to frozen pipes somewhere.
    I suppose the next step would be to replace the commas with full stops and turn it into an action piece.

    Reply
    • Jay Warner

      I think it would be too choppy with full stops. I like the way it flows. It moves at a fast pace and catches you in the moment.

      Reply
      • Winnie

        Thanks Jay. With this Polar Vortex all our minds will be on freezing weather.

        Reply
  10. gianna

    Is there a word for quick, short fragments used as sentences in succession? Because that’s how I wrote my practice today. Didn’t exactly follow the rules but oh well…

    Empty. It’s nothing new. Every day, I pull myself out of the covers to a brain that’s gone cold. Up until four five nights in a row. Up again at six on the nose. A shower than doesn’t warm. Breakfast that doesn’t taste, while skimming a paper that doesn’t make sense. Then out, into a car. No talk. I prefer watching for the big houses on the side of the road.
    Six hours in a room, then back to my own.
    It’s the end of the week. I’m up till six, then remember practice at ten. I rest my eyes for a little less than three hours, then pull myself out of bed again. Cold shower. I don’t feel it. The house is still dark, as I like it. Twenty minutes of burnt toast, two sweatshirts and dabbing at the dark circles until they’re gone. My legs are heavy, but my mind’s gone blank. I forget my water.
    The music’s low in the vehicle. Anna doesn’t talk. Neither do I.
    Fast-forward half an hour. My team is a mix of tight shorts and slurred words. My coach wears a shark shirt and another hair cut. He smiles at the others, but when I don’t move for passes his expression evens. At some point he brings me aside, but I’m far more focused on the spike of his hair than anything Nick has to say.
    I make us all run. Twice. I don’t go for a ball. Then I serve three straight in the net. Nick yells my name again and again. I am confusion and tired legs, and I miss another. It’s like my head is in water and my limbs are in lead.
    From a distance, Nick’s shout. “On the line!” It rings in my bones. Someone pulls me with them and suddenly I’m moving forward. Then we go back. And forward. Turn and do it again. Again. Back and forth with gasps of air and black spots. My legs guide me, but they aren’t mine.
    Spots. More spots. More lines. They come in pairs and intermix where my blurry vision meets my blurry mind. Hand on my shoulder. “Kate?” I am not okay. There are faces among the spots, and I they don’t know me. I don’t know them. Kate. Repeated. Kate Kate Kate. Again. Over and over. Like my heartbeat. A throb. One face. Then black.
    Then black.

    Reply
  11. Adelaide Shaw

    POLYSYNDETON

    This is the winter of the Big Freeze. We are preoccupied with this unusual weather. I check the outside thermometer every day and every morning and every afternoon and every evening and every hour in between. Is it safe to go out shopping or will I skid on the ice and have an accident and wreck the car and end up in the hospital? Do I have enough food in the house for a couple of days or three or four? I check the fridge and the freezer and the cupboards and decide that I don’t need to go out.

    ASYNDETON

    This is the winter of the Big Freeze. We are preoccupied with this unusual weather. I check the outside thermometer every day, every morning,every afternoon, every evening and every hour in between. Is it safe to go out shopping, or will I skid on the ice, have an accident, wreck the car and end up in the hospital? Do I have enough food in the house for a couple of days or three or four? I check the fridge, the freezer, the cupboards and decide that I don’t need to go out.

    My preference is for the asyndeton version. It’s more polished. The polysyndeton seems more of a whine than a narrative.
    Adelaide

    Reply
    • Elise Martel

      While the asyndeton version did seem more polished, the other version almost seemed less patient. Like you really hated the Big Freeze and just knew it would take forever to end. Just waiting and waiting and waiting. Although, like you said, some of the sentences are ponderous, if you were conveying the Big Freeze from the point of view of someone who just drags out their thoughts and words constantly, connecting sentences perpetually with one thought after the other (okay, you get the point), polysyndeton might be effective. Of course, it is exhausting to write in because it feels so heavy and useless, almost like a first draft that you have to pick worthwhile things out of.

      Reply
      • Adelaide Shaw

        You got that right about really hating the Big Freeze. This has been the coldest Jan. I can remember in the nearly 40 years of living in NY.
        Ah, spring…spring…spring…

        Reply
        • Adelaide Shaw

          Elise,
          Your profile says you have mild synesthesia. I do not know anyone who has that. For writers, especially haiku poets, it is a literary term we sometimes use. Here are two haiku in which i”ve tried to use synesthesia.

          the snow over
          stepping ouside
          into a blue cold

          prize winning rose
          I touch silk
          with my eyes

          Adelaide

          Reply
          • Elise Martel

            My synesthesia isn’t as strong as some people’s. I read one book where the author’s son associated different colors with almost every word. He had a color for every number, every day of the week, and many other things.

            My color/word association is more with adjectives. For example, when I read the word ambiance, I think of a soft, dusky yellow glow, like lamplight shining from underneath the pinkish parchment of a lampshade. I know that ambiance means the atmosphere of a place, but I would be unlikely to use ambiance in a negative/dark setting because of the colors that my brain associates the word with.
            The word fetid, on the other hand, lends itself a dark greenish/blackish color, like the bottom layer of silt in pond scum. It just sounds and looks slimy, untouchable, and decaying. I probably wouldn’t use the word fetid except in a negative circumstance with a character that I really didn’t like.
            My synesthesia can drive me crazy because if I am reading a book where the author uses words that I associate with certain colors that I feel don’t match the mood of the setting or the character described, I may stop reading the book altogether.

    • Katie Hamer

      Adelaide, I love the way you use the weather to create tension and apprehension in this scene. Both versions have their merits. Are you planning on taking this story further? I certainly hope so!

      P.S. How are the haiku going?

      Reply
      • Adelaide Shaw

        Hi katie,
        I hadn’t thought about a story, but it could be part of a haibun, which is prose and haiku.
        If you like haiku, check out my haiku blog where I post previousely published haiku and other forms of short Japanese type poetry.
        http://www.adelaide-whitepetals.blogspot.com
        Adelaide

        Reply
  12. Adelaide Shaw

    Generally, for all the samples of writing, I prefer the asyndeton versions. The polysyndeton is slow and ponderous, whereas the asyndeton pulls you into the action. I can see that polysyndeton would be affective in someone’s dialogue as a way to show the speaker’s excitement or annoyance or emphasis.

    Adelaide

    Reply
  13. Michelle Anindya

    Hello! This is my very first post here! I’m pretty sure there are plenty of grammar errors here and perhaps awkward sentences (I’m not from US), so sorry if that distracts you. Anyway, any feedback would be much appreciated!!!

    polysyndeton:

    Ohhh God the sunlight feels warm. That was what Carrie
    thought, her mind is on the edge of waking up as she kicks the blanket away. In
    a split second afterwards she remembers that this is just her heater and
    perhaps it is just sunny outside (as it usually is). Her alarm goes off quietly
    and Carrie tries to ignore it, but it is just buzzing louder so, going against
    her will, she gets up. Accidently she hits the button snooze and she cursed to
    herself. Carrie looks at the window and notice that it really is sunny outside.
    But it must be really cold too because she found condensation on the edges of
    her window. So she grabs a small towel that she placed near the window and
    begin to scrub away the condensation. Even before she is halfway through, her
    alarm goes off again. She already felt like it’s a busy day.

    Reply
  14. Elise Martel

    I felt that the Polysyndeton felt really awkward to write. Perhaps it was the context. My character just sounds so much better and more real in Asydeton. Maybe because she conveys just the emotion, using natural pauses of her voice to introduce pauses rather than incessantly repeating and and and.
    There are definitely times where Polysyndeton could be useful. Some people just think in run on sentences, so a chapter in their POV would have to be filled with enough ands to drive the writer to wish the word never existed.
    Polysyndeton
    When I dance with time, he waltzes slowly and moves long and languishing. The shadows lengthen; they bend and moan and whisper. Tightly, he holds me and we move together. I cannot escape him and cannot remove his arms from around me. He grips me gently at first, but as soon as I try to escape, he grabs me and claws at me and snatches me. At times, we move slow snail slime, but then he whirls me at dizzying speed and dazzles my eyes and muddles my reason. I cannot get away and perhaps I do not want to get away. Time is here to stay, so I embrace him and love him and obey him.
    Asydeton
    When I dance with time, he waltzes slow, long, languishing. The shadows lengthen, bending, moaning, whispering. Tightly, he holds me; we move together. I cannot escape him, cannot remove his arms from around me. He grips me gently at first, but as soon as I try to escape, he grabs, claws, snatches. At times, we move slow snail slime, then he whirls me at dizzying speed, dazzling my eyes, muddling my reason. I cannot get away, but perhaps I do not want to get away. Time is here to stay, so I embrace him, love him, obey him.

    Reply
  15. nancy

    Dampness, cold, ice, wind, whatever it takes to weigh down that football in Peyton’s grip. Interception! Seahawks!
    Bring on the damp, and the cold, and the ice and the wind and whatever else it takes to weight down that football in Peyton’s grip. Interception! Seahawks!

    Reply
  16. Dawn Atkin

    Polysyndeton
    Everything was cancelled. The sweet seduction of spring had been swept away over night. A bitter south westerly swept across the scarp biting and wet and icey.

    The winds sharp teeth dragged dead leaves and twigs and debris and dank reminders of the dark winter only just past.

    She grimaced and hunched forward into its bluster. Clouds rolled and cracked and snarled overhead. She muttered and swore and kicked the stones beneath her feet. Ruined. The whole day and all the plans and hopes and excitement of the reunion dampened into cancellation at the whim of a precarious and moody weather.

    Asyndeton
    Everything was cancelled. The sweet seduction of spring had been swept away over night. A bitter south westerly swept across the scarp: biting, wet, icey.

    The winds sharp teeth dragged dead leaves twigs and debris; dank reminders of the dark winter only just past.

    She grimaced and hunched forward into its bluster. Rolling Clouds cracked and snarled overhead. She muttered and swore. She kicked the stones beneath her feet. The whole day ruined. All the plans, hopes and excitement of the reunion dampened into cancellation at the whim of a precarious and moody weather.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Foy

      Love it, Dawn. I especially liked “The sweet seduction of spring” and “All the plans, hopes and excitement of the reunion dampened into cancellation at the whim of a precarious and moody weather.” Wonderful prose.

      Reply
      • Dawn Atkin

        Hi Rebecca.
        Thanks for reading and commenting. I really appreciate your feedback. 🙂

        Reply
  17. Dawn Atkin

    Great post. Something fun to play with…beyond a 10 minute practise. Big thanks.

    Reply
  18. Rebecca Foy

    I felt that the polysyndeton was the best way to do it. I liked the way it purposefully speeds up the rhythm of the text and conveys a feeling of breathlessness.
    I’m not 100% sure I did it right, so tell me what you think. I did a long practice today, so I’m just going to post the polysyndeton:

    “It’s so-o-o-o cold here,” Angela whined into the phone. “I don’t think I’ll ever be warm again.”

    I snickered softly. My cousin has spent her entire life in Florida. She’s never known the taste of snow on her tongue or the nip of January wind on her cheeks or the delight of snow days. She’s never carved forts out of snowdrifts the size of houses or had to wear long johns under her fashionable designer jeans.

    “You don’t know the meaning of cold,” I told her. “While it may be thirty-five degrees where you are, it’s twelve-below here. I haven’t seen a living creature– excepting Matt, and does he really count as a living creature?– in three days. It’s too cold for man or beast.”

    “Why doesn’t that cowboy of yours come plow your driveway out with his tractor?”

    “Justin ain’t a cowboy,” I said indignantly. “Cowboys live out west. On ranches.”

    “You live in WEST Virginia. And I thought cattle ranches and dairy farms were the same things?”

    “No, Angela, they’re not,” I sighed impatiently.

    “Well, what’s the–”

    I glanced out the window and saw a tractor with a plow tied to the front. It was clearing out the long and narrow and maple-lined strip of gravel that is our driveway.

    “Oh my–” Was it– possibly– yes! “Angela, I’m going to have to call you back.”

    “But–”

    I slammed down the landline and ran to the coat rack. Pulling on layer after layer, I bundled up to go out. My scarf and gloves and earmuffs and hat and another scarf–

    “Someone’s excited,” came a voice from the living room. I ignored my older brother and stomped into my knee-high snow boots. “Is Prince Charming outside?”

    Too happy to tell my him to shut up, I stepped out.

    I pulled the door shut behind me quickly, shuddering at the bitter cold that met me. Oh, it was cold. And an utter stillness came with the cold. The birds weren’t chirping and the streams weren’t flowing and the road down the hill wasn’t shadowed by a long line of road-rage drivers stuck behind the milk truck. There was just… nothing.
    Except for the sound of Justin’s tractor.

    Quite aware that I looked like an idiot standing there rubbernecking, I snatched the shovel and began clearing off the front porch. I stared at my feet until I heard the tractor shut off and the heavy tread of work boots on packed snow and a second person’s breathing join mine. My face was burning red as I continued to stare at the snow-dusted porch.

    A gentle hand was on my shoulder.

    I turned and looked up into a smile that could have melted all the snow if he’d beamed at it like that.

    “Good morning, Prince Charming,” I breathed. Then, with horror, I realized what I’d said. My face froze in panic. Would he make fun of me or walk away or–

    “Good morning, Natasha.” he teased, brown eyes sparkling.

    Reply
  19. Isaac

    The beasts grandiose wings surmounted a force so powerful as to level a forest. As it began its descending glide, an ominous glow grew within the pit of its stomach. The villagers ran in a futile effort to escape the heat and fire and ash and death while their heroes sprinted toward the oncoming storm.

    Asyndeton

    The beats grandiose wings surmounted a force so powerful as to level a forest. As it began its descending glide, an ominous glow grew within the pit of its stomach. The villagers ran in a futile effort to escape the heat, fire, ash, and death while their heroes sprinted toward the oncoming storm.

    Reply
  20. Susannah M. Cyrus

    Finally! Grammar sticklers have a place to nerd out with one another! Where have you all been? Thanks so much for content that gets right down to it!

    Reply
  21. daniel wiles

    Surprised you didn’t mention Cormac McCarthy, here’s an example:

    “Then he picked up his airtank and the stun gun and walked out the door and got into the deputy’s car and started the engine and backed around and pulled out and headed up the road.”

    Reply
  22. John Molenaar

    What an interesting thread this quick little article produced. I enjoyed the examples of original writing and the jovial comments they produced.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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