Constrained writing

related topics
{language, word, form}
{work, book, publish}
{math, number, function}
{film, series, show}
{theory, work, human}
{woman, child, man}
{@card@, make, design}

Constrained writing is a literary technique in which the writer is bound by some condition that forbids certain things or imposes a pattern.

Constraints are very common in poetry, which often requires the writer to use a particular verse form.

The most common constrained forms of writing are strict restrictions in vocabulary, e.g. Basic English, copula-free text, defining vocabulary for dictionaries, and other limited vocabularies for teaching English as a Second Language or to children. This is not generally what is meant by “constrained writing” in the literary sense, which is motivated by more aesthetic concerns. For example:

  • Lipogram: a letter (commonly e or o) is outlawed.
  • Palindromes, such as the word “radar”, read the same forwards and backwards.
  • Alliteratives, in which every word must start with the same letter (or subset of letters; see Alphabetical Africa).
  • Acrostics: first letter of each word/sentence/paragraph forms a word or sentence.
  • Reverse-lipograms (each word must contain a particular letter).
  • Anglish, favouring Anglo-Saxon words over Greek and Roman words.
  • Anagrams, words or sentences formed by rearranging the letters of another.
  • Aleatory (where the reader supplies a random input).
  • Chaterism Where the length of words in a phrase or sentence increase or decrease in a uniform, mathematical way as in "I am the best Greek bowler running", or "hindering whatever tactics appear".
  • Univocalic poetry, using only one vowel
  • Bilingual homophonous poetry (where the poem makes sense in two different languages at the same time, thus constituting two simultaneous homophonous poems)[1]
  • Limitations in punctuation (such as Peter Carey's book True History of the Kelly Gang, which features no commas)
  • Mandated vocabulary, where the writer must include specific words, chosen a priori, along with the writer's own freely chosen words (for example, Quadrivial Quandary, a website that solicits individual sentences containing all four words in a daily selection)
  • E-Prime, where all forms of the verb "to be" is disallowed, for clarity.

The Oulipo group is a gathering of writers who use such techniques. The Outrapo group uses theatrical constraints.

Contents

Full article ▸

related documents
William Stokoe
-logy
List of Latin place names in Continental Europe
Hapax legomenon
Diaeresis
Allative case
M
Indo-Iranian languages
Object Agent Verb
F
Malapropism
High German languages
R
Grapheme
Giga-
Gur languages
Occidental language
Gibberish
Dalmatian language
Rhotic consonant
Layamon
Native Esperanto speakers
CIA cryptonym
Homophone
Homograph
Iota
Malayo-Polynesian languages
Back-formation
Danelaw
Boustrophedon