Sunday, December 25, 2011

This Week's Practice Exercise


This Little Light of Mine


Prepared by: Alice Folkart
Posted on: December 25, 2011

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In 400 words or less write a scene that takes place on the night of the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, and show us someone or something bringing light into the darkness.

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Our ancestors regarded the lengthening darkness of winter and the longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice, as a threat. They feared the darkness would never end, the sun wouldn't come back, crops would fail, and they would die, a fear which led to the development of rituals to chase away the darkness and beckon the light's return, where bonfires, torches, lamps and candles were important.

This exercise asks us to show the contrast between the time of darkness and the coming of light. You may set your scene in the past, present or future, in any culture. It might be as simple as the electricity going out and someone replacing a fuse or finding the flashlight. Or the scene might be dramatic--a man kindling a fire in desperate circumstances; nostalgic-- a family lighting the candles of the Menorah; or exciting, like the lighting of the huge bonfires along the levees in New Orleans. You might look at what the displays of Christmas lights do for the mood of communities. Why, in the dead of winter, do we need to 'lighten up?'

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In 400 words or less write a scene that takes place on the night of the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, and show us someone or something bringing light into the darkness.

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In your critique, look at whether the author has made you feel the threat of the darkness. Can you sense the relief brought by the coming of light? Do we participate in the story through the feelings of characters, description of the scene or through the development of the plot? What did you like best about the story? Could the story be improved? How?

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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