Sunday, October 30, 2011

This Week's Practice Exercise

Back in the Day
Prepared by: Charles Hightower
Posted on: October 29, 2011

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, have an older character's dialog transition us between present and some time in the past when the character was in the prime of life. You should briefly ground us in the present so that we can witness the character's current condition and listener¸ and then smoothly transition into days gone by, to a time of particular importance to the character. There's no need for the entire piece to be in dialog.

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You might have an old pirate describing his or her days of glory to a recent recruit, an aged lawyer sharing a grueling court case with a reporter, a law officer reliving the takedown of a notorious criminal, a WWII veteran recalling a battle from sixty years before. The possibilities are endless. Your goal is not only to perform a smooth transition, but to make us care about the character and the beginnings of your tale.

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Exercise: In 400 words or less, have an older character's dialog transition us between present and some time in the past when the character was in the prime of life. You should briefly ground us in the present so that we can witness the character's current condition and listener¸ and then smoothly transition into days gone by, to a time of particular importance to the character. There's no need for the entire piece to be in dialog.

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In your critique, you might identify anything that strikes you – positive or negative - about the contrast between old and young versions of the character. Did the transition work for you? If not, what might be done to improve it? Did the dialog/tale feel natural? Most importantly, did the character and the tale hold your interest? Would you want to read more?

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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