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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: What moves you (part 2 of 2)

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 (http://www.internetwritingwor kshop.org/).

Prepared by: Rhéal Nadeau
Posted on: November 15, 2003

By the way, this week marks a milestone for Practice-W - this is the 100th exercise (or exercise variant) to be posted on this list.

In the past week, we have been remembering something from our past, remembering our feelings and emotions at the time, and looking at how those might have changed us or changed our choices and decisions later on. (You can see last week's exercise at: http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/pwarchive/pw99.shtml )

Of course, the goal of the Remembering exercises is not just to talk about our past, but to explore those emotions so we can better use them in our writing. Just as emotions affect us, and influence (or at times even control) our lives, so do emotions affect our characters - all of them, from the protagonist and antagonist down to the most minor characters (though we may not show all those emotions, we do need to make sure that all characters have their own reasons for their actions.) This is true not only in fiction, but in non-fiction as well - often it is useful to wonder what experiences or emotions drive the actions of the people we might write about (from George W. Bush waging war in Iraq to the sweet old lady who feeds the pigeons in the park.) What makes them who they are, what causes them to make the choices they make?

So this week, take the emotion (or set of emotions) you explored last week, and use it in a fictional scene. Show how that emotion (or a mix of emotions) determine or at least influence the character's actions. In a classic example, fear might lead someone to run away - or else, might inspire an act of bravery. Someone who has suffered loss might be afraid of new relationships, or might crave them.

(If you didn't do the exercise last week, or if you want to use a different emotion than the one you wrote about, then do last week's Remembering exercise now - just for yourself. Don't submit it, but think of a moment in your life, take the time to remember what that moment felt like, then use that in doing this week's exercise.)

Remember to *show* the emotions - what it actually feels like to the character - rather than just telling us. (In other words, don't use words like "fear" or "anger" or whatever, but *show* those emotions in action.) Use what you explored in last week's (and any previous) remembering exercises - focus on the sensations, not on the names of the emotions. So don't say a character was angry, but instead show what that character is actually feeling.

Don't use the actual scene you used last week; use the *emotions" you experienced at the time in creating a different fictional scene. Last week the requirement was to use a real incident from your life. This week, the requirement is to create a fictional scene, with a fictional character, but to use our own experiences as background.

Word count: 300 words.

Have fun!


Web site created by Rhéal Nadeau and the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.