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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Imaginings

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: Don Mackenzie
Posted on: Sun, 19 Feb 2006

Dreaming is a natural function of ordinary and creative life. Dreaming, or more properly "imagining", can be something you do consciously for any number of reasons. You may be trying to take yourself out of an uncomfortable situation or imagining the steps you need to take to achieve a personal victory.

Dreaming or imagining can also be an activity which sneaks up on you. It may undermine your intentions, or if you are more fortunate, point the way to new successes, as it did for Archimedes in his bath.

Dreaming is a powerful force which writers should be encouraged to explore, but caution is needed. The revelation "it was all a dream" is one of the most offensive devices in fiction. Readers object when they feel they have been tricked and that the contract between writer and reader has been broken. A writer must be careful to keep the reader on side. Surprises are wonderful, but the reader must feel properly prepared and that the surprise is appropriate.

For this exercise, in three to four-hundred words, show us a character whose imaginings have a particularly significant effect, either within the story or on the reader. Be careful to keep in mind the extra difficulties faced by your reader.

When critiquing explain whether you found it easy or difficult to draw the line between what was real and what was imagined. Did you find the writing believable or insightful?

Don Mackenzie's wrap-up
Posted on: Sun, 26 Feb 2006

Imaginings cover a lot of territory, as this week’s entries showed. Decisions were made, actions were taken, and realizations occurred as a result of imaginings. This group of writers had no difficulty showing imaginations at work in important ways, in ordinary life. Some gave us a glimpse of the complexity involved in the interplay between control and reaction when scenes are imagined. Some of my favourite pieces used imagining as a way of clarifying or emphasizing a point which was being made in the story.

Writers seemed to have little difficulty in signalling readers what was imagined and what was real.

The crits were particularly impressive this week. When mistakes were made, or weaknesses surfaced, critters noted these flaws with gentle precision.

Thanks to everyone for their contributions this week.

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Modified by Gayle Surrette.