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Exercise: Closing the Circle

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: Florence Cardinal
Posted on: Sun, 3 Jun 2001

I've always found it adds a little something extra to a paragraph/article/story if you can bring it "full circle" by using something from the beginning in the ending. For instance, if you start the story with softly falling snowflakes, then maybe end it by mentioning the snow again.

A story follows a certain pattern - rising progressively to a climax, then winding down to closure. (This is referred to as the story arc, or can be drawn as a lopsided triangle.) At the end, whatever situation was dealt it should have returned to a normal state - the crisis is resolved, in some form or other. The use of a repeated symbol or image helps establish this sense of closure.

For instance, this is from the first paragraph of a descriptive essay I wrote:

   With the first killing
   frost, the pelicans left me, heading for their winter home
   in Texas.

This is from the last paragraph of the same essay:

   As I trudge up the path, I look up and see
   frost fairies dancing in the moonlight.

With the mention of frost in both paragraphs, I have brought it full circle.

For this exercise, write a story or descriptive text of 300 to 500 words, and bring it "full circle" by using something from the beginning at the end.

Florence Cardinal's wrap-up
Posted on: Sun, 10 Jun 2001

This, again, was an exercise in variety. Complete stories in 500 words or less, each one incorporating a bit of the beginning at the end.

Some people didn't catch the exact idea of the exercise, and I can't fault them for that. It took Rheal and me about two months to try to figure out what I was saying when I suggested the article! And, I'm afraid, even the example I gave, wasn't too illuminating.

For this exercise to work, it was necessary to not only repeat a part of the beginning at the end, but to have it be an integral part of the story. However, most of the participants did get our intention of the exercise and did a good job of it.

I'm hoping that Rheal will choose to do this exercise, or something similar.

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