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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Family Rules (Version 3)

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: Loretta Russell and Carter Jefferson
Posted on: November 25, 2007
Revised and Reposted on: November 30, 2008
Reposted on: January 10, 2010
Reposted on: January 16, 2011
Reposted on: October 26, 2014
Revised and Reposted on: July 3, 2016


Exercise: In 400 words or less, write a scene in which a character
breaks a "family rule" and suggest what the consequences of this
action will be.


Every therapist knows that families have "rules," some unconscious,
and some known and openly enforced.

Rules often govern a family’s household routine. Examples: some
families always clean house or do laundry on a designated day of the
week; in many households, parents decree that television shows and
video games are prohibited on school nights; and, it’s increasingly
customary in modern, double-income families for both spouses to share
household chores.

Other types of family rules emphasize social conformity and teamwork.
Examples: attendance at holiday dinners – and/or church - is
mandatory; or, quite commonly, older teens and grown children help out
with the family business; and, in many homes, parents dutifully put
money aside for each child’s college education.

Such rules usually keep families moving smoothly. But when a rule is
broken, sometimes serious trouble follows. And when people marry,
bringing two sets of family rules to the union, conflict often ensues.

In your SUB, let your reader know, either by implication or through
dialogue, what rule is in force. Show a character breaking this rule,
or show that someone has transgressed by focusing on family members’

Exercise: In 400 words or less, write a scene in which a character
breaks a "family rule" and suggest what the consequences of this
action will be.


Your critique: Was the family rule clearly presented? When the rule
was broken or ignored, what was the family’s reaction? Did you
identify with the rule-breaker, or did you side with the family
members? Comment on any aspect of the writing that needs improvement,
and be sure to compliment the writer for things well done.

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