Short Story Look In — Those Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin

Sarah Thomas
4 min readJul 17, 2022
Photo by PAN XIAOZHEN on Unsplash

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas (1973) — Ursula Le Guin

Synopsis: A narrator describes a summer party in the utopian town of Omelas, the beauty and perfection of the citizens and the terrible price a young child pays for their splendour.

Story Home: The Unreal and The Real

The Writer

Ursula K. Le Guin

She is the author of 23 novels, 12 volumes of short stories, 11 volumes of poetry, 13 children’s books, five essay collections, and four works of translation — someone to learn from.

I’ve recently had the joy of picking up her book ‘Steering The Craft’, which has an incredible selection of writing tools — language, grammar, voice, tense and all the things missing from the non-traditional route through storytelling.

I’ve also just found this exciting Podcast — Crafting With Ursula, where writers explore the advice on writing that Ursula gave.

Below are my three favourite takeaways

1 — Language

If you’ve read Steering The Craft, you’ll see Ursula as a poet and language guru. If you haven’t read it, you should. As you would expect from this author, the language of this story is impeccable — each sentence crafted to take you gently on to the next and delicately into the world that she describes.

With a clamor of bells that set the swallows soaring, the Festival of Summer came to the city of Omelas, bright-towered by the sea.

The story’s opening sentence uses sound, movement and anticipation to bring the feel of the festival straight to the reader — ‘set the swallows soaring’ itself has the sound repetition at the beginning of each letter — giving the language a rhythm.

In Steering the Craft, she has a section on sentences –

Think of it like this: there’s one best way for the parts of a sentence to git together

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Sarah Thomas

Storyteller, ex playwright (produced), award winning screenwriter, always writing. Creating story-based content for businesses. Based in Aberdeen.