General info:
How it works
Too Many Emails?
Listserv Settings
Contact Us

Critiquing Lists:
Child/Young adult

Discussion Lists:

The IWW Blog Writing Advice

Other Topics:
Our administrators
Other writing lists
Books on writing
IWW History
Showcase of Successes

IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Can you taste it?

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, 24 Jun 2001
Reposted on: Sun, 30 Nov 2003
Reposted on: Sat, 19 Jun 2004

This exercises marks a milestone - this is exercise number 25 since we started back in January. (If I had any doubts back then as to whether this list would work, well, those doubts are long gone!)

We've covered most of the senses, but this week, let's concentrate on taste. We'd like you to describe a special meal. This can be a meal you've eaten in a restaurant, in a friend's home, or one you've prepared yourself. Or it can be a meal one of your characters would eat. What sensations go with that meal, and what emotions might be revealed?

Remember, though, that a great many things enter into our enjoyment of food. All the senses come into play. So don't just shove a fork full of the meal down our throats. Let us experience it thoroughly, through all five of the senses.

As an example, what if you were describing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at a friend's home. You walk in the door, and, right after your host takes your coat (or even before) what greets you? The aromas! Roasting turkey, onions, sage. Perhaps the spicy scent of baking pumpkin pies.

You hear the laughter of children, voices raised in greeting, the clink of silverware and crystal as the table is set. Perhaps soft music plays on the stereo. Take a look in the dining room at a table set with the best china and sparkling glasses. Perhaps a centerpiece of fall flowers, pine cones, autumn leaves. A crisp white tablecloth almost buried beneath the sumptuous feast.

After you're seated, your host opens a bottle of wine. You hear the cork, then the sounds of the wine being poured into a glass. Bubbles sparkle in the golden wine. You take a sip, it feels cold on your tongue. Someone passes you a dish of corn, and it's hot, almost burning your fingers.

And finally, after all the other senses, there's taste. The tang of onions and sage, corn on the cob, dripping with butter, sweet and salty, succulent squash, smooth mashed potatoes and brown gravy tingling your mouth with peppery herbs. A side dish of celery attracts your attention. Listen to the crisp crunch as you bite into it. As a final touch - hot pumpkin pie garnished with a scoop of cold ice cream. Taste it. Feel it on your tongue.

I've only skimmed the surface of this meal, just to give you an example of what we'd like you to write about.

Now think of other situations - what would the last meal of a man about to be executed taste like, however delicious the food might be? How about the first meal in days of someone hungry, however poor the fare?

So here's the exercise. In 300 words or less, describe a special meal. Through it, without any other indications, give us a clue of the character(s)'s emotions at the time.

When critiquing a submission, pay attention to the sensory detail, and tell us what impression you got of what was happening to the characters.

Florence Cardinal's wrap-up
Posted on: Sun, 1 Jul 2001

What a "tasty" collection of SUBS for this exercise, everything from a full course meal eaten in splendor to a Big Mac as a convict's final meal to a juicy peach.

I noted several subs that equated food with sexual ideas. This serves to remind us of just how closely one appetite is to the other in the mind of man.

This exercise also prods the memory to recall events of the past and tie them into other memories of things tasted, smelled and seen by the subconscious. So often a vagrant aroma will awaken a whole memory that has long been forgotten.

We must remember this in our writing as well. When we describe tastes, aromas and things of the other senses, they may not bring the same type of memories to life for our readers. For instance, where the aroma of fried onions may evoke memories of the Midway or a sumptuous Thanksgiving dinner for you, the same aroma may bring back memories of a greasy meal in a cheap diner, perhaps eaten during a meeting with an illicit lover. Perhaps the memory of being the victim of a mugger.

What can you do about it? Not much, really, except keep it in mind when someone is less than appreciative of a scene you have written. Perhaps it awakened something unpleasant in his or her subconscious.

All in all, everyone succeeded to some extent with this exercise. Well done everyone.


Florence Cardinal's wrap-up
Posted on: December 9, 2003

A great lot of submissions. Made me hungry. And such variety - from the religious to the sacrilegious. Even one about a dog.

All in all, you have done well. Some of the tasted weren't all that pleasant to the taste buds - or the imagination, and that's as it should be.

The majority of the critiques were brief and to the point, letting us know how the submitted exercises 'tasted' to them.

I'll mark this down as a success. Thanks to all who participated.


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