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Exercise: Free-for-all

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.internetwritingworkshop.org/).

Prepared by: Rhéal Nadeau
Posted on: Sun, 1 Apr 2001

There will not be a set exercise this week; rather, members will need to decide what they want to work on, creating their own exercise then writing a text that meets the goals of that exercise.

State your exercise in 50 words or less - if you can't say what you're trying to achieve in this many words, your exercise is too complex. Narrow things down further. (Acceptable exception: you are allowed to write a preamble discussing the topic, the way we usually do when we post as set exercise, but the exercise itself must be short and clear.)

Your text should be no longer than 500 words (and if possible, under 300 words.) This is longer than the usual limit, to take into account that some of the self-assigned exercises may require more room.

There are many ways this can be done:

  • do one of the previous exercises (or a variant on a previous exercise) which you didn't submit a text for.
  • redo a previous exercise (or a variant), based on what you learned.
  • identify an area you'd like to improve on, for example you might want to work on dialogue, showing vs telling, etc. Make the exercise specific enough that the other members can critique your text accordingly.
  • heck, if you see someone else's exercise you like, there's no law against using that one.
Use your imagination. The exercises don't need to be specific to fiction - you could tackle some aspect of poetry or non-fiction, for example.

When submitting your text, include the exercise you've assigned yourself, followed by the text.

Rhéal Nadeau's wrap-up
Posted on: Sun, 8 Apr 2001

I've found this an interesting week. Without a set exercise, participation was down a bit, but we did get 10 diverse submissions. This week sums up one of the underlying lessons of this list: the variety of challenges writers face, and the equal variety of ways to tackle those challenges.

I think I will repeat the free-for-all occasionally, but before I do I'll create a Web page with all the previous exercises (so people can look through those to see to get ideas.)

Thanks to all who participated!


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