Sunday, October 11, 2009

This Week's Practice Exercise

Action! Version 3

Prepared by: Rheal Nadeau
Reposted on: 11 Oct 2009

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Critics should tell us what they learn of the characters through those actions, and note any wasted, nebulous words.

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 Writing Workshop.

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