Sunday, May 10, 2009

This Week's IWW Practice Exercise


What's Driving

Prepared by: Carter Jefferson
Posted on: September 16, 2007
Reposted on: May 10, 2009

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, write an opening scene in which something happens, and then show us a character through that person's thoughts, words, and deeds. Though you may use more than one character, focus on one in particular to let us learn as much as possible about that person as the story begins.
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Good characters are essential to a good story whether it is plot-driven or character-driven. In both kinds of story something happens and characters react. The reader comes to know the characters through what they think, say, and do.

In a plot-driven story, action tends to predominate; it causes the character to react. In a story about a hard-nosed detective who must chase down criminals, the plot usually is complex, but well-drawn characters greatly enhance such a tale.

On the other hand, in a character-driven story, there may be little action, with the focus on the thoughts and reactions of the characters, but things still happen, characters still react. For instance, we might learn a lot about a quiet, reserved widow by her deep emotional response to observing a butterfly alighting on a flower.

Choose one of the two styles, plot-driven or character-driven, and write a scene that shows us what your character is like.
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Exercise: In 400 words or less, write an opening scene in which something happens, and then show us a character through that person's thoughts, words, and deeds. Though you may use more than one character, focus on one in particular to let us learn as much as possible about that person as the story begins.
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In your critiques, consider what you have learned about the character. Are the character's traits things that people around him or her would notice, or are they hidden from view? Do the character's thoughts and actions match? Can we tell why the character reacts in a certain way to an event?
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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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Photograph by Savannah Newsome © 2009

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