Sunday, June 1, 2008

This Week's Practice Exercise~

Prepared by: Ruth Douillette
Posted on: Sunday, 1, June 2008


Exercise: Choose a person and focus on his or her hands. In no more than 400 words, write a short story, scene, or poem that shows readers something important about the person whose hands are described.


Sometimes it is the small things that give writers the greatest opportunity to highlight something unique about a particular character. For this exercise the "small thing" will be hands. Choose someone and focus on his or her hands. The appearance of the hands and what they do can show readers a lot about a person.

Note how the hands look: professionally manicured with fire red nails, ragged fingernails, bitten to the quick, shaky hands with prominent veins . . .

Note what are the hands are doing: smoothing hair off the forehead of a child, dealing cards, arranging a vase of flowers . . .

Think of a simile or metaphor that relates to the hands: they quivered like a tiny bird trapped in a corner.

Consider adding a character who speaks to the "hand person" or asks a question. Does the conversation distract the person from what he is doing with his hands? How do the movements of the hands change?


These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop.

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