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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Where Are We? (Version 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.internetwritingworkshop.org/).

Prepared by: Carter Jefferson
Posted on Sunday, June 24, 2007
Posted on Sunday, June 28, 2009
Posted on Sunday, July 13, 2014
Revised and Posted on Sunday, April 3, 2016
Posted on Sunday, October 22, 2017


Exercise: In 400 words or less, write a portion of a story or memoir that clearly portrays the setting and its importance to the events that will follow. Your characters should show us the surroundings in which they act.

Readers need to visualize the setting of a drama for successful plot development. The location or setting of a story affects the characters’ behavior. For example: At a solemn church service, the worshipers sit quietly and listen; at a rowdy football game, the crowd is restless and raucous; in a busy city mall, shoppers browse around the merchandise and chat companionably.

Some writers introduce the setting for their story in the first paragraph. Others gradually reveal the setting as the narrative moves along. Whatever an author’s choice for location revelation, he or she must provide sufficient descriptive details to support the plot, but without distracting the reader from the story line.

It's advisable to restrain from composing a big complex setting in the intro. Be subtle. Sip in details in small doses, as the plot progresses. Try different things -- a variation of sight, smells and sounds, and see which combo best fits your story line.

Exercise: In 400 words or less, create a realistic setting for a story or memoir. Use the characters’ sensory clues to immerse the reader in the scene. Make your story’s “backdrop” come alive.

In your critique, consider: were you able to clearly visualize the story’s setting? Did you picture the characters in action on this “stage?” What role did the setting play in the plot? Could other details have been added to improve the scene? And, as always, critique the writing.

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Modified by Gayle Surrette.