Sunday, June 10, 2007

Practice Exercise for the week of June 10th

Prepared by: Rheal Nadeau
Posted on: 8 Jul 2001
Reposted, revised, on: 10 Jun 2007

Some words have been used so often as to have practically lost all meaning.Think of the following phrases we might come across while writing or reading:

  • he's a nice guy
  • she is a loving mother
  • she was an abusive mother
  • he was very pious
All deal with strong concepts, but in weak ways--we don't get a specific image. Such phrases have been used and overused and have lost much of their power. In most cases, it would be better to replace those with an action or two showing the concept.

For example, how was he "a nice guy"? Did he buy her roses, or do the dishes without being asked? What does a loving mother do, or an abusive one? A proper action can show "nice" or "loving" or "abusive," but even more, it can tell us something about the character involved.
Exercise: In 300 words or less, write a scene in which one or more characters demonstrate traits like "nice" or "loving" or "wicked" or "pitiful" or any other characteristic through their actions. Make us know the characters through what they say or do, rather than through vague descriptive words.

The Internet Writing Workshop's Practice Exercises are archived.

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