exercises were written
and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its
You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that
them at the Internet Writers Workshop
Prepared by: Rhéal Nadeau
Posted on: Mon, 26 Mar 2001
Reposted on: Sun, 29 Feb 2004
Revised and reposted on: Sun, 22 May 2005
Experts say that the majority of communication is non-verbal. Body
language, tone of voice, intonation, etc. For example, how often
have we known something was wrong with a friend or loved one,
even though that person hadn't said so?
The purpose of this exercise is to make us think about how we detect
much about the people around us. What are the physical signs that
someone is angry, happy, tired, skeptical?
The assignment: in a passage of 300 words or less, describe a
using physical cues only (no dialogue, no "saying" or "telling" words)
such that we know what that character is feeling. Don't tell us what
that is: let us figure it out on our own.
Critics: When you critique, be sure to mention what you believe the
character is feeling. As well, point out cases where the writer is
telling rather than describing.
Extracurricular activity: for one day this week, pay attention to
body language of people you meet (strangers and acquaintances alike),
and pay attention to how much you can tell about them without any words
being exchanged. If you're feeling ambitious, try to see how different
people use different signals and cues.
Extra activity: look for online sites which discuss body language;
any good examples here (using the subject line: "Disc: Non-verbal
Rhéal Nadeau's wrap-up
Posted on: Sat, 31 Mar 2001
When we started this list, I was afraid that with set exercises,
getting submissions that would be too much alike, but that has
not been the case. Once again this week, we've seen a broad variety of
approaches, both in what we wrote about and how we wrote it.
I need to make it clear that while I'm a teacher and administrator
these lists, I'm also a student, learning from my own submissions and
critiquing those of others. I know I have learned a lot about how to
convey things by showing, through actions and physical cues. And I
know, having done a submission of my own, that it takes some care to
avoid falling into telling or exposition - like all other skills, of
course, this is something that will get easier with practice, so I hope
we all keep the lessons we learn here in mind as we tackle our own
writing (especially in the revision phase, because until these skills
become second-nature through practice, it's not possible to keep all
these principles in mind as we write.
As always, thanks to all who participated.
Web site created by
Rhéal Nadeau and
the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.